Korea, North
Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea
July 18

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Area 122,370 sq.km. The larger part of the Korean peninsula, but climate more rigorous than in the south.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 24,039,193 +1.57% 196 per sq. km.
2010 26,451,118 +0.78% 216 per sq. km.
2025 29,387,635 +0.71% 240 per sq. km.

Capital Pyongyang 3,450,000. Urbanites 61%.


Korean 99.3%.

Chinese 0.7%.

Literacy 99%. Language Korean. Languages with Scriptures 1Bi.


Heavily industrialized, this centralized socialist economy is in freefall due to the heavy costs of militarization, attempts to become a nuclear power and the ending of aid from China and the former USSR. Huge black market. Increasingly severe famine has gripped the country for years, with no end in sight. Public debt 49.4% of GNP. Income/person $970 (2.8% of USA).


Occupied by Japan 1910-45. On Russian insistence, Korea was partitioned after World War II. A Communist regime was installed in 1948. North Korea invaded the South in 1950 and war dragged on until 1953. The large North Korean armed forces continue to threaten a second invasion. The fortified border between the Koreas is one of the most impenetrable in the world. One of the most repressive regimes in the world, completely dedicated to cultivating their interpretation of Stalinist ideology. Hope for reunification of the Koreas ebbs and flows with political developments – spirits are higher since the 2000 summit.


All religions have been harshly repressed. Many thousands of Christians have been murdered since the Korean War – in 1953 there were about 300,000 Christians, reduced to a few thousand today. The true number of Christians is of course unknown, so the figures given are estimates. Persecution index 16th in the world.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
non-Religious 64.31 15,460,000 +0.9%
Traditional ethnic 16.00 3,846,000 +1.8%
Chondogyo 13.50 3,245,000 +1.3%
Buddhist 4.50 1,082,000 +10.1%
Christian 1.69 406,000 +11.3%

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 1 0.06 15 +2.1%
Independent n.a. 1.46 350 +14.2%
Catholic 1 0.17 40 -2.3%

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Secret believers I 5,000 280,000 350,000
Catholic Association C 1 27,972 40,000
Korean Christian Fed P 2 12,000 15,000
Total Christians   5,003 319,972 405,000

Trans-bloc Groupings pop.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical 1.5 355 +14.0%
Charismatic 0.6 140 +14.2%

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Challenges for Prayer

1 The leader of North Korea has deified his deceased father Kim Il Sung by adulatory propaganda, erection of statues and government enforced policies. Pray that the Holy Spirit might convict him and his cadre to cease their idolatry and worship the true God.

2 The Church in North Korea was the birthplace of Korean revivalPyongyang was known as the "Jerusalem of the East". But most Christians fled to the south during the Korean War or were martyred, and churches were bulldozed. Little is known about today's underground church; only that it has survived amidst great suffering. There are three propaganda "show" churches in the capital, but over 100,000 Christians are interned in labour camps. Pray for physical and spiritual safety for North Korean believers, that they hang on to their Saviour in what is possibly the most difficult country to be a Christian.

3 The majority have never heard the name of Jesus. The knowledge of God has been obliterated for most by an Orwellian nightmare of repression, demands for total conformity, and isolation from the outside world. Pray that the God-shaped hole may be filled within the long-suffering Korean people. The turning to God could be dramatic when the state collapses.

4 As many as 3 million died of starvation from 1994-2000, yet the government stockpiles rations for the military and refuses assistance on any but the strictest of terms. Floods caused by deforestation continue to devastate crops and reports of cannibalism are leaking out of the country. Some Christian agencies have been able to offer aid, but never with permission to share the gospel. Pray for aid to reach the needy population, and for wisdom on the part of foreign governments and NGOs in handling this tragic and delicate situation.

5 Present means of witness are limited:

a) Radio. Many South Korean Christian broadcasts as well as those of TWR-Guam and FEBC-South Korea (19 programmes) reach far into North Korea, but most radios are pre-tuned to government stations, and few can hear these gospel broadcasts.

b) Korean Christians from China and elsewhere who are able to visit and gain opportunities to witness. Korea is open to Chinese businessmen, and their easy access to the country could be strategic for the gospel.

c) South Korean Christians who have prayed and prepared for years for the time when the land opens for the gospel. Pray that this may soon happen.

d) A group of foreign NGOs has received permission to establish an independent church in an area where they run agricultural training programmes.

6 Over 100,000 North Koreans have fled to China in the last three years. There are about 200,000 ethnic Korean Christians living in Chinese provinces which share a border with Korea. Many try to shelter the escapees and share the gospel with them in hidden "Bethlehem Centres" but Chinese are punished severely if caught harbouring escapees, and any Koreans who are sent back face almost certain death. Despite this, converted Korean escapees often return to be a witness to Jesus at extreme risk to their own lives. Pray that the Lord might protect both the sheltering hosts and the escapees from harm, and use them to reap a great harvest among these disillusioned and desperate people.

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