New leader, same religious persecution

Saturday, December 8, 2012
Charlie Butts (

It's been one year since the leadership mantle in North Korea was passed from Kim Jong Il to his son, Kim Jong Un, but there have been no significant changes.

North KoreaAside from limited agricultural reforms, allowing women to wear pants in public, and a love for Mickey Mouse, Open Doors USA spokesman Jerry Dykstra reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has spent much of his time building his image and tightening security, which was already rigidly tight.

"There's still tremendous persecution, including against Christians," Dykstra tells OneNewsNow. "It's been number one on Open Doors' World Watch List for ten straight years. Religious freedom, which there is none for Christians, continues; Christians -- estimated to be between 200,000 and 400,000 -- still live in horrific conditions. Many of them are in prison. In fact, Open Doors estimates in gulags as 50,000 to 70,000."

The new regime has sent more spies into China, which has become a refuge for many North Korean Christians who have escaped their home country. The government's aim is to locate those refugees and return them to North Korea, where they are certain to be sent to prison, where most of them die.

"We need to keep the pressure on them as far as human rights and the lack thereof, and we need, of course, to pray during this Christmas season," the Open Doors spokesman contends. "As one Christian told one of our workers there … 'we can only celebrate Christmas in our hearts.' They cannot celebrate outwardly in their homes or in meeting places."

Open Doors is hearing from Christians inside the country who are very thankful for what Christians in the West are doing. But they ask that the prayer effort continues. They are also listening to Christian radio programs, although that practice is illegal.

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