Pyongyang, Capital of North Korea, was once known as the “Jerusalem of the East,” with Christians constituting 13 percent of the population in 1945.
According to a woman who fled North Korea in 2005, Kim Eun Jin, North Korea is now “the most dangerous place in the world to be a Christian,” with Christians numbering only 2% of the population.
“Growing up, I was told by the authorities that there was no God in this world,” Kim said. “We were ordered instead to worship Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, the leaders of the country.”
“We met every Saturday evening,” Kim recalled. “My family gathered in the back room of our small apartment. We had to be very quiet. We whispered when we prayed, sang songs or read the Bible. We often covered our heads to muffle the noise.”
“My parents often asked me to stay outside the apartment on Saturdays to make sure no one was coming while the family prayed inside. We couldn’t allow anyone to know what was going on,” she said.
“We had one Bible in the house. My grandmother, who was a believer from the Japanese Imperial times, had a Chinese Bible. She translated the Bible by hand into the Korean language on pieces of paper. That’s how we read the Bible. We found strength in those pages.”
In 1994, authorities discovered that her father was operating an underground church. Her father and an uncle were arrested and ended up in one of North Korea’s six labour camps.
“The day my father was arrested I was at school, but I’ll never forget that day. He hugged me before I left for school and like every other day he reminded me to be careful.”
“Every morning at the breakfast table he would tell us that one day the government will come and arrest us for being Christians. He warned us of the price we would someday pay for our faith. I remember him saying often that ‘Even if I face death I will follow Jesus.”
Kim doubts her father is still alive today, saying: “Everyone knows what happens when government agents arrest Christians in North Korea. They never make it out alive.”
“I know my father is in Heaven and he’s praying for North Korea and my family,” she said while in tears.
Kim finally defected to China with the help of a Chinese pastor and her family followed months later.
“It was a difficult decision. I knew that if I got caught I’d be arrested and sent to a prison camp,” she said. “But my family defected because we were being persecuted in North Korea for our faith.”
Now, Kim has her own family and lives in Seoul, South Korea. She dreams of returning to Pyongyang someday to share the Gospel of love with other North Koreans.
“We are getting ready for that day when the doors open,” Kim said.
- Pray for Christians in North Korea, who daily face the risk of arrest, torture, or public execution if discovered.Pray for strength, a faith that endures and the knowledge that they are constantly watched over by their heavenly Father.
- Give thanks that, in the face of serious oppression, the North Korea church is not only surviving, but growing.
- Pray for open doors for the Gospel in North Korea, and for many to find hope and life through Jesus.
Ephesians 6 vs 19: “Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.”