Is There Christianity In North Korea

Throughout history, Christianity has had a strong foothold in many countries around the world. From Europe to the Middle East and beyond,of course the United States has been the traditional home to Christianity, but there is one place in the world where Christianity is virtually nonexistent: North Korea. Despite its centrality to the world stage, the Hermit Kingdom remains largely an enigma, particularly when it comes to religious beliefs. So what is the Christian faith like in North Korea? Is there Christianity in North Korea, and if so, how is it expressed?

The short answer is yes, there is Christianity in North Korea. However, it is a heavily repressed faith, with virtually no churches or other forms of public expression. This is because Christianity is seen as a threat to the message of the heavily centralized North Korean government, which is centered on a strict adherence to the Juche philosophy—an ideology of “self-reliance” and devotion to the leader, Kim Jong-un.

The few North Korean Christians who do exist practice their faith in secret, as publicly expressing one’s Christian beliefs can result in harsh punishment, imprisonment, and even death. The US State Department’s Commission on International Religious Freedom estimates that there are roughly 300,000 Christians in North Korea. Reports of arrests, torture, and even executions of Christians by the government are not uncommon. In addition, anyone who is caught practicing their faith can expect to be sent to a prison camp, where torture, starvation, and hard labor are the norm.

Despite the repression, some aid groups are working to help Christians in North Korea. Organizations like Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors provide humanitarian aid to North Koreans in need. They also help North Koreans learn about the Christian faith, offering Bible studies and worship services in safe locations. However, this work is often done in secret, out of fear of government reprisal. This makes it difficult to truly evaluate the true impact of their efforts to spread Christianity in North Korea.

Despite the government’s attempts to suppress it, Christianity may have a chance of surviving in North Korea. A small number of individuals have found solace in their faith, and there have been reports of North Korean Christians even converting other North Koreans. While this is difficult to confirm due to the secretive nature of the North Korean government, it is a testament to the power and resilience of the Christian faith.

North Korean Christians Leaving the Country

North Koreans often flee the oppressive country in search of religious freedom. For most, this means traveling through China to South Korea, where Christianity is an officially recognized faith. South Korea has even started a special program, the “Christian Refugee Settlement Support Program”, to help these refugees adjust to their new home. According to the World Religion Database, South Korea is now one of the most highly Christianized countries in Asia, as the large influx of North Korean refugees has caused the number of Christians in the country to skyrocket.

These refugees have in some cases taken their newfound Christian faith to North Korea, risking imprisonment for the sake of spreading a message of hope. Their work is often done in secret, sharing the message of Christ with fellow North Koreans in clandestine ways in order to avoid the attention of the North Korean authorities. Through these courageous efforts, Christianity may yet find a footing in North Korea.

How We Can Help North Korean Christians

The international community must take action to help North Korean Christians. Pressure must be brought on the North Korean government to abandon its policies of repression, and the world must come together to help those who are persecuted because of their faith. Charitable organizations such as Open Doors and Voice of the Martyrs must be supported, and more pressure must be put on the North Korean government to release those who have been imprisoned for their faith.

In addition, the United Nations and other international organizations must work to ensure that North Koreans have the same access to religious freedom as those in other countries. The international community must take a stand against the North Korean government’s religious repression, and ensure that North Koreans can practice their faith without fear of reprisal.


The situation for Christians in North Korea remains dire. Despite the overwhelming repression, though, there is hope that the Christian faith can survive and even thrive in the Hermit Kingdom. By supporting aid organizations and pressuring the North Korean government, we can ensure that North Koreans have the same access to religious freedom as those in the rest of the world.

Past Persecution of North Korean Christians

While religious freedom is widely recognized as a basic human right, North Korean Christians have long been persecuted for their beliefs. During the Korean War (1950-1953) Christianity was widely targeted for extermination in North Korea, as the North Korean government saw religious belief as a threat to the Marxist ideology that was being imposed upon the nation. Churches and other places of worship were destroyed or turned into military or government facilities. In some cases, pastors and other religious leaders were publicly executed or arrested and imprisoned for their beliefs.

In the decades since, North Koreans Christians have faced systemic discrimination and even outright repression. They have been denied access to education and job opportunities and have even been subjected to forced labor. They are not allowed to build churches or other places of worship, and religious activity such as holding Bible study or prayer meetings can result in imprisonment. Despite the harsh conditions, some North Korean Christians have remained steadfast in their beliefs, while others have fled the country in search of religious freedom.

Cultural Implications

The repression of the Christian faith has had a significant impact on North Korean culture. Over the years, the North Korean government has done its best to eradicate any kind of religious belief or practice from its citizens. This has resulted in a North Korean society that is largely atheistic, with some elements of traditional East Asian religions and shamanism being practiced. This lack of faith has had a profound effect on North Korean culture, as it has led to a society that is largely devoid of morality and ethics.

The lack of religious belief in North Korea has also created a culture of fear and mistrust. The North Korean government has done its best to instill a culture of suspicion and paranoia in its citizens, as it is seen as an effective way to keep them in line. This culture of fear has resulted in a society where people do not trust each other and are afraid to speak out against the government.

In addition, the oppression of Christianity has contributed to a general mistrust of religious belief in North Korea. North Koreans have long been taught to believe that religious belief is backwards and superstitious, and that modern science and technology are superior. This has led many North Koreans to view Christianity with skepticism, which presents a major hurdle for evangelism in the country.

International Support

International support is vital for North Korean Christians. Aid organizations have long worked to provide food, shelter, and other services to those in need. They have also worked to help Christians in North Korea learn about their faith and practice it without fear of persecution. The US State Department and other international organizations have also been working to support North Korean Christians, providing humanitarian assistance and pressuring the North Korean government to improve its human rights record.

The international community has also been putting pressure on the North Korean government to release those imprisoned for their faith and give North Koreans greater freedom of religion. This pressure has led to some progress in recent years, as the North Korean government has taken some steps to ease the burden on North Korean Christians by allowing some religious activity. However, much work still needs to be done in order to guarantee religious freedom for all North Koreans.

Despite the efforts of the international community, the situation for North Korean Christians remains bleak. Even with these small measures of progress, North Koreans still face harsh repression and discrimination for their religious beliefs. It is only through increased international awareness and pressure that the North Korean government can be persuaded to ease its restrictions and allow North Koreans the freedom to practice their faith without fear of punishment.

Jennifer Johnson is an experienced author with a deep passion for exploring the spiritual traditions of different cultures and religions. She has been writing about religion and spirituality for the past ten years in both print and digital platforms, engaging readers in meaningful dialogue about the soul's journey through this life. With degrees in Comparative Religion and English Literature, she brings an insightful perspective to her work that bridges the gap between traditional knowledge and modern theories. A lifelong traveler, Jenn has lived in multiple countries exploring various paths to understanding faith, and her dedication to learning new things is palpable in every piece she creates.

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