North Korean Defectors Say Over 75 Percent of Christians Do Not Survive Persecution

North Korea Freedom Candlelight Vigil
Activists protest in a candlelight vigil honoring the North Korean defectors and human rights activists who have died or been imprisoned thanks to Chinese repatriation policy at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 23, 2016. |

Human rights groups are reporting on new grim statistics from North Korea and its treatment of religious minorities, including Christians, revealing that more than 75 percent of those subjected to torture, imprisonment, and other punishments do not survive.

UPI reported on statistics from the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights, a South Korean nonprofit organization, which are based on the testimonies of defectors, identifying over 65,000 cases of religious persecution.

Close to 99 percent of 11,370 defectors in the study confirmed that there is no religious freedom under the government of Kim Jong-un, and what is more, over 75 percent of Christians who are punished for their faith do not survive.

"Most North Korean religious practitioners say they are either Protestant or Roman Catholic. More than 10 percent of interviewees said they are Buddhist," the article stated.

"The interviews also reveal less than 23 percent of victims of religious persecution survive their punishment, according to defectors' testimonies."

South Koreans Prayer rally
Christians pray for starving North Koreans during a prayer session in Seoul March 1, 2012. About 300 South Korean Christians also asked China not to send North Koreans detained in China back to the North, saying the North Koreans might be executed after their repatriation. |

The statistics also showed that only 1.2 percent of those who fled North Korea admitted to engaging in secret religious activities, due to fear of persecution.

International Christian Concern, Open Doors USA, and Christian Solidarity Worldwide are just some of the persecution watchdog groups that have documented the horrific treatment of minorities in North Korea.

CSW's report on the North Korean regime released in September noted that the government tortures, mutilates, and kills Christians.

The report added that some of the documented incidents against believers include "being hung on a cross over a fire, crushed under a steamroller, herded off bridges, and trampled underfoot."

"A policy of guilt by association applies, meaning that the relatives of Christians are also detained regardless of whether they share the Christian belief. Even North Koreans who have escaped to China, and who are or become Christians, are often repatriated and subsequently imprisoned in a political prison camp," CSW noted.

As the watchdog group also explained, religious belief is seen as a major threat to North Korea's leadership, with Christians often accused of being imperialists seeking to undermine the rule of the 'supreme leader,' as Kim Jong-un is known.

ICC reports that while there are some Christian churches in the capital of Pyongyang, they serve more as "showcases" for the international community, rather than legitimate houses of worship.

Christians in North Korea have said, however, that they are not praying for their own freedom, but for their Western brothers and sisters who are tempted by money and material wealth.

"They don't pray for freedom and money. They pray for more of Christ and to mirror more of Christ in their life," said the Rev. Eric Foley, the head of Soul-based Voice of the Martyrs Korea, based on his conversations with persecuted Koreans.

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