North Korea tops the list of countries persecuting Christians.
The message of Christianity reached the area in 1880s. This was a traditional Buddhist country including the Confucian Korean peninsula (North and South Korea). Over the years the message of Christ spread in the region causing a great revival in 1907, particularly in the north when people began to accept Christ in huge numbers. As a result of this great revival, 3,000churches were established in what is the present North Korea and Pyongyang- the present North Korean capital.
Because of this grand revival in the country the North Korean capital Pyongyang was even called, “The Jerusalem of Asia.”
However, the persecution of Christians started three years later in 1910 when Japan occupied the Korean peninsula and commanded that all should worship the Japanese emperor. After this spiteful command the Christians who bowed down to the portrait of the Japanese emperor were spared. On the other hand, those who refused to worship the Japanese emperor by bowing down to hi portrait were severely tortured, imprisoned or executed.
Nonetheless, regardless of this persecution, the local Christians grew in number. The Japanese persecution lasted 35 years until 1945, when Japan surrendered to end the Second World War.
Sadly, the relief for the Christians was short-lived; however, as the Communists led by the Soviet-trained Kim IL Sung stormed into the land and occupied the northern half of the peninsula. These insurgents were backed by the Soviets, Kim IL Sung spent five years consolidating his power in North Korea thus strengthening his position by crushing all kinds of opposition, including from Christians. Kim formed an army of his own. Later in 1950, Kim’s Communist army of North Korea invaded the democratic South Korea. The resulting Korean War killed millions, leveled both South and North Korea, and ended three years later in a draw, with the post-war border more or less where the pre-war border had been.
After this war, Kim IL Sung increased the persecution of Christians in North Korea. Those Christians who renounced their Christian faith and swore faithfulness to him and his new “Juche” ideology were spared from his wrath. However, these were downgraded to the lowest levels of his new social order. But those Christians who refused to swear allegiance to his “Juche” ideology were executed or deported to remote concentration camps where they were starved, overworked, tortured or shot to death.
This persecution continued till 1960s, when Christians who were every where to be seen in North Korea vanished and were nowhere to be seen, at least not on the surface.
It has been twelve years now consecutively that North Korea has been the most persecuting country for the Christians. Enforced worship of the emperor and his predecessors spares no room for the Koreans to practice any religion specially Christianity. Christians are facing unimaginable persecution in every sphere of life as they meet only in secret and dare not preach Christianity for the fear of imprisonment in a labour camp. Any one who is caught engaged in any religious practice is either arrested by the police or publicly killed. According to an estimate there are still 50,000-70,000 Christians imprisoned in the labour camps.