Two reports based on testimony from North Korean refugees – one by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom - have confirmed earlier findings that religious freedom does not exist in North Korea, that local people are aware of state-sponsored acts of religious persecution and that the only state-approved religion is Juche, or self-reliance, which is closely allied to the cult of the deceased leader Kim Il-Sung.
Some interviewees claimed they had witnessed or heard of extreme punishments, even death, meted out to religious believers. The Christian organisation Open Doors has noted that North Koreans arriving in China are usually very opposed to religion in general and Christianity in particular, as a result of the long-term and regular state indoctrination to which they had been subjected.
Given the draconian restrictions on individual freedoms in North Korea, the most reliable knowledge available on religious freedom and other human rights in the country has to be based on insights garnered from North Korean nationals outside the country, interviews with refugees from North Korea and informed foreigners who have visited the country.
[Excerpt of an article by Magda Hornemann, Forum 18 News Service]