Christianity is spreading in North Korea as fewer citizens in the hermit state consider dictator Kim Jong-Un a god, the Telegraph has learned from an anonymous defector.
Using figures found in the latest International Religious Freedom Report authored by the U.S. State Department, Breitbart News has determined that the Christian population in North Korea has increased dramatically—at least five-fold—from about 37,000 known practicing Christians in 2012 to between 200,000 and 400,000 now.
The State Department, which gleaned the Christian population figures from data maintained by the United Nations and the Cornerstone Ministries International (CMI), acknowledged the number of Christians in North Korea may be higher.
State learned from CMI that an estimated “10-45 percent” of people imprisoned in North Koreans detention camps are Christians.
“An estimated 80,000 to 120,000 political prisoners, some imprisoned for religious reasons, were believed to be held in the political prison camp system in remote areas under horrific conditions,” points out State in its report. “CSW [Christian Solidarity Worldwide] said a policy of guilt by association was often applied in cases of detentions of Christians, meaning that the relatives of Christians were also detained regardless of their beliefs.”
An unnamed North Korean defector confirmed the significant increase in North Korea’s Christian population.
“In the past, the people were told to worship the Kim family as their god, but many North Koreans no longer respect Kim Jong-Un”, the defector, now a member of the Seoul-based Worldwide Coalition to Stop Genocide in North Korea, told the Telegraph. “That means they are looking for something else to sustain their faith.”
“In some places, that has led to the emergence of shamans, but the Christian church is also growing and deepening its roots there”, he also said, adding, “Even though people know they could be sent to prison—or worse—they are still choosing to worship, and that means that more cracks are appearing in the regime and the system.”
North Koreans who practice any form of religion can face jail, torture, or even execution in the communist country, reveals the International Religious Freedom Report for 2016.
“The government continued to deal harshly with those who engaged in almost any religious practices through executions, torture, beatings, and arrests,” stresses the report.
Citing a 2014 report of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the Human Rights Situation of North Korea, State reports that the communist country considers Christianity a serious threat.
Christianity “challenged the official cult of personality and provided a platform for social and political organization and interaction outside of the government,” notes State. “The report concluded Christians faced persecution, violence, and heavy punishment if they practiced their religion outside the state-controlled churches.”
Although the North Korean constitution provides protection for the right to freedom of religious beliefs, the communist nation denies its people the right to freedom of thought and religion.
In North Korea, “there was an almost complete denial by the government of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, and, in many instances, violations of human rights committed by the government constituted crimes against humanity,” notes the State report, which covers about 200 foreign jurisdictions, criticizing American allies and foes alike for their religious freedoms shortcomings.