North Korea came into existence after World War II, when Korea was partitioned and a communist regime installed in the North. It is one of the most repressive and isolated regimes in the world and denies every kind of human rights to its citizens. North Koreans are indoctrinated with an ideology called “Juche,” a philosophy of self-reliance that centers on worship of the country’s leaders.
This heavily industrialized nation is ruled by a one-man dictatorship with communist influence. Following Kim Jong Il’s death in December 2011, power was transferred to his son, Kim Jong Un, who seems determined to carry on his father’s policies. North Korea maintains one of the world’s largest standing armies and an expansive system of political prison camps, which hold a significant number of individuals arrested for “illegal” religious activity. North Korea has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the USCIRF since 2001.
All religions have been harshly repressed. Many thousands of Christians have been murdered since the Korean War. Little is known about today’s underground church since most Christians practice their faith in deep secrecy and constant danger. The three churches in the capital of Pyongyang are for show only.
It has been estimated that as many as 3 million have died of starvation as famine continues to grip this nation. The government stockpiles rations for military use only. There is a huge black market within the ranks of those in power. Seeking relief from such harsh living conditions, many North Koreans flee to China, where if caught, they face being returned to their country and almost certain death.