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2014-05-21

ASIA/NORTH KOREA - North Korea: Religious freedom denied

Seoul (Agenzia Fides) - Religious freedom is completely denied in North Korea, considered the world's most hostile nation to Christianity: the report "World Watch List 2013", released by the American organization "Open Doors", puts North Korea at the top of the list of countries where freedom of faith is denied. According to "Open Doors", there are currently between 100,000 and 400,000 Christians in North Korea and, despite the danger of being arrested or put to death, the followers of Jesus Christ seek to share the gospel in so-called "house churches" that are "undergroud communities". According to a statement by the group "Christian Aid Mission" sent to Fides, a Pastor talks about having led "three underground churches in North Korea, with 87 members".
According to the Christian NGO "318 Mission Partner" (which refers to 318 fellow warriors of Abraham in the Bible, ed), who works to save the North Korean illegal immigrants, there seems to be over 10,000 underground churches in North Korea.
The South Korean Catholic Church notes that this news is impossible to verify, and that figures of this magnitude appear rather surprising, given the strict conditions of security and network control of the military. But the flame of faith can remain alive even under an oppressive regime.
According to organizations that defend human rights, such as Amnesty International, in the notorious "prison camps" in North Korea, more than 200 thousand political prisoners and dissidents have been detained for reasons of conscience and of religion.
In the early 1900s, Pyongyang, now the capital of North Korea, was called the "Jerusalem of the East", since Christianity had taken root and there were more than 3,000 churches. The persecution of Christians began in 1910, when Japan took control of the Korean peninsula, and worsened with the rise to power of the communist regime of Kim Il -Sung, after the Second World War and continued under his son Kim Jong-Il and today with Kim Jong-Un. Today only one church officially exists in Pyongyang, where sometimes South Korean priests, on the rare missions in the North (such as those organized by Caritas Korea), celebrate Mass in front of an assembly selected by local authorities. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 21/05/2014)

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