The number of North Koreans who have seen a Bible has increased 4% each year since 2000 despite harsh government punishments and restrictions, according to a new report.
The Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB) – which publishes an annual paper on religious freedom in the nation – said that before the year 2000, only 16 defectors surveyed had seen a Bible. NKDB says since then, 559 have indicated they have seen a Bible.
"God is finding ways to get Bibles into North Korea," said Pastor Eric Foley of Voice of the Martyrs Korea. "We're amazed at the avenues He's opening," he said. "Please pray that continues. Pray that God is glorified."
NKBD has collected information from 1,234 North Koreans and documented 1,411 cases of religious persecution since 2007.
When surveyed about government punishments for religious activities, 46.7% of respondents said the penalty for such activities are prison camps. Another 38.6% said they were unaware of penalties because they knew nothing about religion.
One defector spoke of a Christian neighbor who was imprisoned and killed for her faith.
"When we were living [in North Korea], we did not know she was practicing religion," said the respondent. "However, when I came back home, I heard she was killed. When I asked why she died, I was told she was arrested alone whereas the whole family left the town [because] they were practicing religion. I heard she was suffering and prayed until the point she died. She believed in Christianity. I heard she believed in God. She was investigated in the provincial political security department, and I heard they hit her until she shed excrement. I heard they dried her out to death... not giving her a drop of water. I heard she died after suffering like a dog."
London-based Korea Future Initiative has documented more than 200 cases of Christians being punished for their faith in such ways. Those simply found with Bibles were executed by firing squads, locked in electrified cages, or starved to death. Others attempting to create religious literature or smuggle Bibles into the country met the same fate.
🔦 North Korea ranks as the worst offender on Open Door's World Watch List for religious persecution.