Persecution prevents Christian parents in North Korea from sharing their faith with their children

Christian parents in North Korea cannot share their faith with their children or would have to wait until their kids were old enough to know the "family secret" since they know that authorities could go after them and persecute them if news got out.

(Christian Peterson-Clausen / Handout via Reuters)Statues of former leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are seen in Wonsan, North Korea. October 2016.

Lee Joo-Chan (not his real name), who is now a pastor in China, only discovered that his parents were Christians after 30 years. He always knew that they were different and noticed that they read a "secret book" every night, but he only became privy to the details when they escaped persecution from North Korea and fled to China in the late 90's, Open Doors USA detailed.

"I knew my parents were different. Everybody called them 'Communist parents,' because they took care of the sick, the poor and the needy. At night, they read from a secret book, which I wasn't allowed to read from," said Lee. "But I heard them whisper the words, and I knew it was their source of wisdom. I also knew that if I ever talked about this to someone else, our family would be taken away."

After some time, Lee tried to go back to North Korea together with his mother and brother. Little did they know that four soldiers were waiting for them across the river. His mother was killed with a rifle while his brother was stabbed to death when they reached the opposite riverbank. Lee, who was still on the other side, saw what happened. He found out afterwards that his father and siblings had also been detained and killed later on.

Meanwhile, Open Doors told that North Korea was publishing photos of "show churches" with fake parishioners in a bid to cover up its human rights abuses. These images made it appear that Christians could practice their faith freely, but in reality, they were forced to do so in secret or risk being jailed, beaten, or face death.

A spokeswoman from Open Doors said there were four churches in Pyongyang --- one Catholic, one Russian Orthodox, and two Protestant churches. Defectors have testified that these buildings were nothing more than a show for foreign visitors as citizens were only allowed to treat their leader Kim Jong-un as a god.

North Korea has once again topped Open Doors' annual persecution watch list, which contains the countries with the worst Christian persecution.