A new report has exposed the atrocities done to North Korean Christians arrested for their faith, including forced abortions, the murder of newborn babies, and death by execution for possessing a Bible.
The London-based Korea Future Initiative published its latest report, “Persecuting Faith: Documenting religious freedom violations in North Korea,” which includes information from 117 interviews with those exiled from the isolated country.
The investigation documents 273 victims of religious freedom violations, ranging in age from just 3 years old to over 80 years old.
Though adherents of various religions are held in North Korea’s “reeducation” camps, the harshest punishments are reserved for Christians, the report found.
More than 200 Christians were identified as victims punished for crimes, including religious practice, religious activities in China, possessing religious items, contact with religious persons, attending a place of worship, and sharing religious beliefs.
The report documented the various methods of torture victims endured in North Korea’s prison camps, including strangulation, starvation, being forced to ingest polluted food, sleep deprivation, and excessive beating.
One former female prisoner recalled, “Men were beaten like dogs. Even in the cell. They screamed like crazy because they hurt so much.
“Even though women were beaten less, I was hit in the face and my skin ruptured and I bled a lot. [Officers] told me to wipe the blood, so I cleaned it. I wept a lot when they hit me again. Blood and discharge ruptured during my next pre-trial examination. They hit me again because I wept.”
In several cases, prisoners found with a Bible or religious pamphlets were executed by a firing squad, while others were locked in electrified cages and fed watery soup. Others were executed for smuggling Bible pages into the country from China for North Koreans to make prayer books.
In one instance, a victim found in possession of a Bible was publicly executed in front of over 1,000 people. The victim was tied to a wooden stake and executed by an MPS firing squad.
One witness told KFI, “I saw the flesh fall off. That is how close I was.”
Another man, who had converted to Christianity, was allegedly forced into a metal cage that was just 3 feet high and 4 feet wide.
“There were steel bars on all four-sides that were heated with electricity,” he told KFI. “Usually prisoners lasted only three or four hours in the cage, but I sat there for 12 hours and prayed. I kept praying to God to save me.”
The man eventually soiled himself and passed out before being beaten by guards, leaving him with severe injuries.
Investigators documented 32 incidents of sexual violence against women — who made up 60% of victims identified in the report — and forced abortions.
North Korea is number one on Open Doors World Watch List of countries where Christian persecution is the worst, a position it has maintained for 18 years.
As the report explains, religious freedom in North Korea is “largely non-existent” and faith-based persecution has been commonplace since the 1950s because religious beliefs are “seen as a threat to the loyalty demanded by the Supreme Leader.” While Christians are the main target of abuse, Buddhism and Shamanism are also practiced in the country and “suppressed to varying degrees.”
“Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” Hebrews 13:3.