North Korean officials sentenced a two-year-old and his entire family to live in a political prison. The finding comes from a report on religious persecution in North Korea, where over 70,000 Christians and members of other faiths are currently imprisoned. António Guterres, the United Nation’s Secretary General, blasted the finding. “The right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion [in the DPRK] also continues to be denied, with no alternative belief systems tolerated by the authorities,” he said. The North Korean regime has kept tight control on any religious affiliations, with any churches or religious institutions kept in line by the regime. The COVID-19 pandemic has also made finding exact numbers extremely difficult. The arrest of the 2-year-old and his family over ownership of a Bible reportedly occurred in 2009, which means the 2-year-old could now be 16 years old and still living in a prison camp. 

Open Doors ranks North Korea as the worst place to be a Christian. “Christians have absolutely no freedom… It is almost impossible for believers to gather or meet to worship. Those who dare to meet must do so in utmost secrecy — and at enormous risk,” the group stated. “The government ruled by the Kim family views Christians as the most dangerous political class of people, and the persecution is violent and intense. North Korean parents often hide their faith from their children. Churches of more than a few people are non-existent, and most worship is done as secretly as possible.” The group estimates there are around 400,000 Christians in North Korea. According to the report, “the government continued to execute, torture, arrest, and physically abuse individuals engaged in almost any religious activities.”

The information for the report comes from North Korean defectors from 2007 to 2020. Detractors detailed horrific treatment, including starvation and sexual assault. 70% of victims of religious persecution were women and girls. According to one victim, “[Officials] worked us hard without feeding us properly. I suffered from malnutrition and was sure I would not survive. I kept having diarrhea, even when I only drank water, and I weighed just 35 kilograms [77 pounds]. Today I weigh 60 kilograms [132 pounds], so I was like a skeleton back then.” Prominent North Korean defector, Yeonmi Park, has often spoken out about the atrocities committed against North Korean citizens by the regime. “In North Korea,” she said, “seeing dying people is like looking at a tree. That’s how common it is. In North Korea, we don’t even have a concept of love. The only love that North Korean people are allowed to know is the love for the dictator. … Until my father passed away, he never told me he loved me.”

More from Beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad