Today, most eyes are turned towards the headlines coming out of North Korea, and its recent threats on the United States and South Korea. Yet, there is a history to North Korea that few remember, who recall only the days of the late Kim Jong Il, or the current ruler, Kim Jong Un.
In 1907, Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, experienced a Christian revival. Like the south, the north has a long history of Christian involvement in the country, dating back to over a hundred years. By the 1940’s, despite persecution from Japan, which had annexed the Korean peninsula, North Korea had around 3,000 churches, and looked to be flourishing.
Yet, the regime of Kim Il Sung marked the start of a slow end to religious freedom and a slow death to the once flourishing church in North Korea. Kim Il Sung made his followers swear to follow him, and only him. The penalty of being a Christian under the new leader was generally torture, deportation to a concentration camp, or death.
By the 1960s, Pyongyang, the city that was once called “The Jerusalem of Asia,” was a shadow of its former self. All of the churches were either gone, or moved underground, where they remain today.
Into North Korea
North Koreans Listen
Quietly in Their Homes
North Korean Defectors
Learn About Christ
North Korea Ministry Highlights
South Korea now has 13 radio stations and reaches most of Korea, ministering also to Koreans in most of the surrounding countries. The FEBC station located on Jeju Island, which is situated off the coast of the southern tip of Korea, is one of the Korean continent’s most powerful station. The Jeju Island station has the ability to broadcast into South Korea’s northern neighbor, North Korea.
North Korean Christians quietly and carefully listening to FEBC broadcasts in their homes, must always be careful of who might be watching. The government continues to exert intense pressure on underground churches, using tactics that make the churches that do persist extremely wary.
Background on North Korea
Population: 25,115,311 (2016 est.) racially homogeneous; there is a small Chinese community and a few ethnic Japanese
Religion: traditionally Buddhist and Confucianist, some Christian and syncretic Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way)
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