A new report has found that an increasing amount of North Koreans have seen a Bible.
The North Korean Human Rights Information Center publishes an annual report to assess levels of religious persecution. This year it surveyed 1,234 people related to religious persecution and 1,411 cases of religious persecution, and found that the number of people who've seen a bible has risen by 4 per cent since the year 2000.
According to its 2020 North Korean Religious Freedom White Paper, only 16 North Korean defectors said they has read the Bible before 2000. But since 2000, a Bible has reached 559 people.
Despite the encouraging statistics, North Korea remains hostile to religious freedom.
Those surveyed were asked "what is the level of punishment for religious activities in North Korea?", 46.7 per cent responded that they would be punished with being sent to a prison camp.
A person who defected from North Korea in 2018 gave insight into the level of persecution people are enduring.
The person said during an interview: "When we lived then, we didn't know if that person was religious. But when I came home and heard it, he said that he was dead. When I asked why she died, she said she had a religion and the house was all open, but she was caught and came in. He said he died while praying until he died while suffering. It was Christianity. He said he believed in God. I was also investigated by the Bowie Bureau, and he said that he was beating and beating until he shed poop. He said he killed him because he didn't take a sip of water. He said he died while he was in high school."
The white paper says that since Kim Jong-un's order to ``Arrest the residents who came into contact with Christianity'' was came into effect in 2014, the crackdown on religious oppression worsened. The report says North Korea's "Ministry of National Security, reconnaissance officers, and even employees of the consulate in China were mobilized to arrest residents suspected of encountering them."
Last week, it emerged an American pastor who sends scripture-filled helium balloons across the border into North Korea is now facing criminal prosecution.
South Korean police recommended that Pastor Eric Foley and his mission group Voice of the Martyrs Korea (VOMK) faces three separate charges, two of which are related to national security and border violation.
VOMK has sent approximately 600,000 Bibles into North Korea by balloon and various other methods over 15 years.
Christian persecution watchdog Open Doors estimates that there are approximately 300,000 Christians in North Korea, from a population of 25.7 million.
From that 300,000, Open Doors estimates that 50,000 to 70,000 Christians are currently imprisoned in terrible labour camps for their faith. It is unlikely that they will ever be able to leave.
It is ranked number one on Open Doors' World Watch List which ranks 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution