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MISSIONARY SPOTLIGHT

September 1998

North Korea

The church in North Korea today

The present state of the church in North Korea is not easily gauged. There were about 400,000 professing Christians in the North in 1945, with many living in the capital, Pyongyang. By the end of the Korean War there were 100,000. Many emigrated to the South as a result of the fierce communist persecution.

 

The Korean Christian Federation (KCF) is the only Protestant church organization currently functioning in the North, with up to 12,000 members. However, it is widely believed that there are quite a number of family-based house churches meeting secretly, and attended largely by old people. Probably many Christians are still in labour camps. There have been reports of tensions between the ‘conforming’ KCF and those in the ‘underground church’. The far north-east of the country seems relatively more open to Christian influences.

The government of North Korea permitted one Roman Catholic and two Protestant churches to open in Pyongyang in 1989 and 1994. It has very recently promised to permit the erection of more church buildings. This is almost certainly motivated by the desire to remove unwelcome publicity and attract Western aid and investment. Given the state of economic collapse in the North, it seems only a matter of time before there will be further opportunities for Christians to enter and witness in North Korea.

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North Korea