The persecution watch group Open Doors USA has confirmed that two Christians in North Korea have been killed for their faith.
While their identities have not been released, the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the Christians, apparently both males, have been explained.
The first man had been visiting China on a number of occasions in order to find work and make money. While unsuccessful in his financial endeavor, the man came in contact with an Open Doors worker and soon became interested in Christianity. After he turned to Christ for salvation, the man returned to North Korea.
“He was very excited about his new faith and wanted to share the Gospel with his family,” an Open Doors representative explained. “He wanted to come back to China to study the Bible more so he could explain the Christian faith better to his family.”
However, while the newly-converted Christian was on his way to return to China for Bible training, he was shot to death.
“It is heartbreaking that he was killed,” the representative lamented. “I cannot stop thinking: ‘If only he had arrived a little later at the border river, the guard would not have seen and shot him. He could still be alive today.’”
For the second Christian, he too had made trips to China to study the Bible, and after eight months, decided to return to North Korea even though he was advised not to.
“Before his return to North Korea, he was baptized and willing to deal with the all the hardships he had to face,” Open Doors said. “We never tell people to go back to North Korea, but he was happy to.”
When North Korean authorities found out about the man’s faith in Jesus Christ, he was arrested and sent to a labor camp. According to reports, Christians are often sent to labor camps for merely possessing a Bible.
It was while still imprisoned that the Christian died.
“He was terribly tortured because of his faith,” Open Doors explained. “He was also forced to do heavy labor while hardly receiving any food.”
The organization stated that it sorrows over the deaths of the Christians.
“We are devastated to hear about these murders,” it said. “We know Christians die for their faith almost every day in North Korea, but it is still hard to deal with.”
As previously reported, North Korea has been at the top of Open Doors’ “World Watch List” for some time, and remains the most dangerous place to live in the world as a Christian. Also included in the top ten are Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Maldives, Mali, Iran and Yemen.
“Nothing much has changed under new North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un,” said spokeman Jerry Dykstra. “In fact, persecution of Christians has increased. Reportedly one labor camp alone could hold up to 6,000 Christians.”