According to a white paper published by the Data Center for Human Rights in North Korea, religious activities in that country have been completely banned. About 46 per cent of participants in a study say that believers are punished with forced labour. North Korean also tries to find North Korean Christians who fled to China. Since 2000, only 559 people have "seen a Bible".
Seoul (AsiaNews) – Religious persecution in North Korea is among the harshest in the world. When its ruling regime was installed, religious beliefs became anti-state activity and punished as a political crime.
A clear vision of the situation is impossible from the little information that leaks from behind the existing iron curtain.
Despite the limited data, the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB) has published a white paper on religious freedom in North Korea every year since 2007, putting together the scraps of information available, especially from fugitives.
This year, the Center was able to collect information from 1,234 people who confirmed the ban on all religious activities and the harsh persecution of believers.
About 46 per cent of respondents confirm that people involved in religious activities are sent to forced labour camps. About 38.6 per cent said that they did not know about punishments since they knew nothing about religion.
According to the Center, religious persecution has increased after Kim Jong-un issued an order in April 2014 to "arrest people who had contacts with Christianity".
Since then, the security forces have been actively searching for religious believers whilst the North Korean embassy in Beijing has also been looking for Christians among North Korean fugitives in China.
The report goes on to say that, despite the persecution, the number of people who have "seen a bible" has increased by 4 per cent each year since 2000.
Before 2000 only 16 people claimed to have had such an experience. After 2000 up to 559 North Korean defectors say they had “seen a Bible”.