Religious Freedom in North Korea

Christians and other religious believers in North Korea face the most severe persecution of any religious minorities in the world.

It is undeniable that the right to freedom of religion is not respected in North Korea. The Pyongyang regime persecutes Christians in a particularly brutal fashion. Prayer, worship, congregating, and possessing sacred texts are severely penalized by torture and imprisonment.

Torture is routine in North Korea, as is death at the hands of the regime.

Although there are three Protestant churches, one Catholic church, and one Russian Orthodox church in the North Korean capital city of Pyongyang, they are little more than a state-sponsored façade. The reality of religion in North Korea is best seen in Kim Jong-un’s demand for total allegiance to himself from the North Korean people. The North Korean constitution does not allow religious freedom because the constitution bars any religious ideology from posing a threat to the political status quo.

In practice, North Korean government officials completely suppress the religious beliefs of their citizens.

While other rights like freedom of expression and assembly protect religious freedom, the oppression of this fundamental right denies the humanity of the people of North Korea. Various human rights groups, journalists, and North Korean defectors witnessed the heinous human rights violations of religious people across North Korea.

The international community must not allow the denial of such a fundamental right to continue.

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission is committed to protecting our Christian brothers and sisters from further persecution and working for the religious freedom of all North Koreans.

Watch the newest ERLC film “Humanity Denied: Religious Freedom in North Korea” below.


Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations

The United Nations in Geneva hosts a Member State driven review of each state’s human rights record, known as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The UPR process offers civil society opportunities to participate as well. The ERLC, in partnership with other like minded organizations, submitted a report on the threat to religious freedom in North Korea.

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