Reports indicate that North Korea persecutes Christians more than any other country around the world: study

A new study reveals that North Korea has the highest level of Christian persecution worldwide.

Open Doors US is an organization that tracks the persecution of Christians around the world. This week, the organization released its annual report on 50 countries where Christians suffer the most extreme discrimination against their faith.

The North Korean flag flies next to barbed wire at the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, March 9, 2017.
(Reuters/Edgar Su)

The Open Doors Global Watch List provides an annual, global snapshot of where and how Christians are persecuted, Lisa Pearce, interim CEO of Open Doors US said Wednesday.

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The 2023 list consists of contributions from 4,000 individuals around the world.

“Often, the persecution of Christians takes place underground, in hidden or very rural communities,” said Peirce. “Persecution is often increased by stealth. Open Doors GMU refers to ‘shattering’ and ‘compressing’ persecution.”

She explained that breaking down major events makes headlines because they affect most people. On the other hand, the pressure is to limit the rights of Christians and other minorities when it comes to finding work, to exclude Christian youth from education, and to strike in rural towns.

North Korea is the number one country where Christians are persecuted, and according to Watchlist, the country has the highest levels of persecution ever.

The Open Doors Global Watch List in the United States shows the top 50 countries in which Christians are persecuted for their faith.

The Open Doors Global Watch List in the United States shows the top 50 countries in which Christians are persecuted for their faith.
(Open the US door)

The high score reflects an increase in arrests of Christians and the discovery of the closure of home churches.

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Somalia reportedly came second and Yemen came in third.

Afghanistan ranked ninth, and in previous years it ranked even higher. Open Doors said fewer Afghan Christians were killed for their faith in 2022, as many left the country or were killed when the Taliban regained control.

Also worth noting is China, which ranked 16th. The organization said that China’s use of digital surveillance technology increases persecution and intimidation, and with the development of tools, the communist government has used censorship, disinformation, and surveillance to control religious groups.

Open Doors reports that last year, 5,621 Christians were killed for their faith, and 90% of those killed were in Nigeria alone.

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Nigeria ranked sixth on the list, and the organization notes that an increase in violence in the country has only caused more Christians to lose their lives over the past five years.

“I would like to stress once again that the persecution of Christians is now a global phenomenon and requires a global response,” Pearce said. “I urge each of us to do what we can to be on their side, to pray for and support them, and to use the influence we have to speak up for their right to live out their faith.”

One of the three main goals of the organization is to inform the global Body of Christ about the state of persecution, said Weibo Nikolai, founder of World Watch List and former global field director for Open Doors.

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“The First World War is an excellent tool for achieving this goal, as it tries to describe the levels of oppression as objectively as possible,” said Nikolai. “The Biden administration has removed Nigeria from the list of countries of particular interest in terms of freedom of religion. Nigeria is the country with the highest number of martyrs in 2022 – more than 4,000 Nigerians lost their lives because of their faith in Jesus. It would be logical and a great initiative to reverse this decision.”

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