Persecution of Christians in North Korea "is worse than ever", amid fresh reports of torture and executions, Christian investigators said Friday, February 2.
Netherlands-based Open Doors, an influential human rights group supporting Christians persecuted for their faith, said North Korea is once again number one of its 2006 World Watch List of over 50 nations with the "worst" religious freedom violations.
With 85 points it was even more serous than last year when Open Doors gave the Communist nation 82 points. “It means that the situation is worse than ever," said Open Doors Spokesman Jeno Sebok told BosNewsLife. "In 2006 an increasing number of Christians were detained and many Christian refugees who were repatriated from China were tortured and even killed."
Among those executed was a contact of US-based World Bible Translation Center (WBTC) who apparently possessed and distributed WBTC’s Easy-to-Read Korean Version of the New Testaments, officials told BosNewsLife earlier.
WBTC Vice President for Publishing and Distribution, John Andersen, said it was "the first confirmed death of a Christian martyr who was sharing the Gospel using WBTC’s Scripture texts." He added that, "throughout the history of this ministry, others have been severely beaten and some believers harassed, but this is the first confirmed death."
North Korea’s Stalinist system of carrying out Communism is based on "total devotion" of the individual to an ideology promoted by the late leader Kim Il Sung and his successor and son, Kim Jong Il, according to observers who visited the isolated nation. Christianity is seen as a threat. North Korean authorities have denied wrongdoing and say the North Korean people love to seve the isolated country’s "dear leader."
Open Doors estimates there are up to 70,000 Christians in labor camps, although other observers have said that figure may be even higher.