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Nobody knows how many North Koreans celebrate the Christ. For them, displays of faith can lead to prison or worse. It is the most oppressive country in the world for Christians.
In September 2016, the Christian activist group, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, published a report which said: “Among other basic human rights denied to the people of North Korea, freedom of religion or belief is largely non-existent. Denial of this right has occurred since the 1950s, and the current leader, Kim Jong-un, continues to violate citizens’ religious freedom.”
Jang-mi, whose name was changed to protect her, is one of those Christians. She faces the threat of being persecuted for her faith every day, but she still believes in Christ.
Jang-mi was happily living in China after having escaped from North Korea. There she met and fell in love with her husband, who was also from North Korea. They both shared the same passion for Christian faith. However, her husband’s heart didn’t quite feel right. He wanted to go back to the persecuted country and share with his family his newfound faith.
Her husband crossed back over into North Korea, telling Jang-mi he would be back tomorrow. That day never came. She knew she had to go after him.
She knew that crossing the North Korean and Chinese border is dangerous, no matter what direction you are traveling. North Korean police are instructed to shoot on sight. Despite all this, she took the risk.
She was immediately captured by guards and taken to a prison. Jang-mi endured torture. The soldiers yelled at her, calling her — ironically — “Judas” for betraying North Korea and following Jesus. Luckily, a guard recognized her last name and found her uncle, who was a high-ranking official in the North Korean army. He was able to get her released and brought home.
There, he gave her a gift — her father’s old military hat. He instructed her to look inside.
Jang-mi was blown away when she noticed a small cross drawn in the hat. “You mean my father was a believer in Jesus?” Jang-mi asked. “But how? Why did he never tell me?” Her father kept it a secret to protect the family.
When a Christian is caught in North Korea, it is a death sentence. Whether you are discovered sharing the Gospel or holding a single page of God’s Word, you can be sentenced to 15 years in a labor camp. Few people in the camps survive more than a couple of years. Jang-mi’s father is now in one of those prison camps.
Her husband, she found out, had been caught crossing the border and was later executed for his faith.
Jang-mi was heartbroken upon returning home to China. She reflected on her late husband and her father, who were both so passionate about the Lord they risked dying for their faith. She knew she had to do the same.
Jang-mi studied God’s Word thoroughly, knowing that Bibles are few and far between in her home country. Then, she made her way across the border one more time, determined to share the Gospel with those who do not know Jesus.
Jang-mi is just one of the many brave Christians who are risking everything to bring the hope of Jesus to North Korea. In border towns like the one Jang-mi and her husband lived in, Chinese and North Korean believers wait to share food and God’s Word with those who risk their lives to escape to China.