Religion and Atheism in North Korea

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Under the militant state atheism of North Korea, Christians and other religious people are persecuted more than in any other states. The situation in North Korea can be only compared with the persecution by Enver Hoxha or Pol Pot.

Yoo Sang-joon is a well-known example of Persecution of Christians in North Korea.


In 1907 Pyongyang was called the "Jerusalem of Asia" and Christians could live peaceful with Buddhists and Confucianists. In 1910 the Japanese emperor attacked the Korean peninsula. Christians who did not bowed down to his portrait were tortured, imprisoned and/or executed.[1] After the Second World War the dictator Kim Il Sung came in power who is often treated by the North Koreans like a god. The government mandates belief in the Juche-ideology. Every competing religion is forbidden. The Christians pray in underground and if they get caught, they will be imprisoned. These prisons are comparable with the labor camps in Nazi Germany where the prisoners were treated like slaves.[2] This strategy was continued by Kim-Il Sungs son Kim Jong-Il and his grandson Kim Jong-un. In 2009, a North Korean Christian woman was executed for distributing Bibles.[3] In addition five church leaders were punished by being run over by a steamroller.[4]

Today there are three churches in North Korea but they are not used to exercise the religion, but they serve as a tourist attraction.[5]

The ca.10 000 Buddhists are more tolerated as Christians, but they do not practice their religion openly.[6]

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