Over 75 percent of Christians in North Korea do not survive persecution, defectors say

More than 75 percent of Christians in North Korea do not survive persecution, according to defectors interviewed after they came to South Korea starting 2007.

North Korean people visit in front of bronze statues of North Korea founder Kim Il-sung (L) and late leader Kim Jong-il at Mansudae in Pyongyang, in this photo taken by Kyodo, February 15, 2013, a day before the birthday of their late leader, Kim Jong-il. | Reuters/Kyodo

Based on the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights' (NKDB) annual white paper on the reclusive state's record on religious freedom, citizens caught practicing unapproved religions are punished with imprisonment or death. Some of the victims endure physical battery until they lose control of their bowel movement, UPI relays.

NKDB researchers interviewed 11,730 North Korean defectors in the South and identified 65,28 cases of religious persecution of 38,328 individuals. In 1,247 of those cases, 1,040 North Koreans reportedly became victims of state-sanctioned human rights abuses.

Almost 100 percent of the defectors interviewed by the South Korean nongovernmental organization (NGO) said there is no religious liberty in the country where they came from. Plus, 98 percent said there are no publicly accessible places of worship except in Pyongyang, and those places are only for display for tourists.

Moreover, around 18 percent of the persecuted Christians die at the hands of the state. The defectors also said the whereabouts of 80 percent of the individuals apprehended by the state are still unknown.

Last month, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has released a report expressing deep concern over North Korea's human rights situation. The group said the regime's human rights abuses against its citizens continue unabated.

CSW has recommended launching a United Nations Commission on Inquiry (COI) to investigate North Korea's human rights crimes. The abuses include violations of the citizens' right to food, life, freedom of belief or religion, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement. The violations happening inside prison camps are also of great concern.

CSW's report also documents the torture, arbitrary detention, discrimination, and inhuman treatment that Christians suffer at the hands of the state. Enforced disappearances —including abductions of foreign nationals — are also detailed in the said report.

Inside Christian Daily