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Christians Among Those Killed in Mass Public Executions Across North Korea for Possession of Bibles

“The DPRK has always considered Christians to be their greatest threat” 

11/14/2013 North Korea (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Christians were likely among the estimated 80 “criminals” publicly executed by North Korean officials across the country earlier this month. On Monday, a South Korean newspaper, the JoongAng Ilbo, reported that the coordinated killings took place in seven different cities on Nov. 3. Among the reasons listed by the newspaper for the executions were “watching South Korean movies and the possession of Bibles.”

“It just shows that Kim Jong-un is still trying to consolidate power and I think this is an indication of his failure to do so,” said an ICC source familiar with the region, referring to the mass executions. “I think it is a reflection of both the stepped up crack-down that he started when he became dictator and also the fear he has of the North Korean people…the greatest threat to the regime are those who escape and tell us what is happening and those who have information from the outside world. I am sure all those executed knew information from the outside and [among them] were certainly Christians. The DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) has always considered Christians to be their greatest threat.”

North Korea is consistently cited as the world’s worst persecutor of Christians. Escapees from the authoritarian nation, labeled by the regime as “defectors,” have reported that crimes as simple as Bible ownership are punished severely. According to human rights organizations, sentences for this “crime” range from thirteen years’ imprisonment to execution; up to three generations of the “criminal’s” family may be sentenced to life in prison inside one of the nation’s notorious labor camps. In 2007 and 2009, unconfirmed reports from sources inside the country claimed that individuals had been publicly executed for distributing Bibles.

According to a “single unidentified” source cited by the JoongAng Ilbo, one of the executions took place in the port city of Wonsan. The source said that 10,000 spectators, including children, were forced to gather and watch as eight individuals, including at least one charged with possessing a Bible, were tied to posts and executed by machine gun. “I heard from the residents that they watched in terror as the corpses were (so) riddled by machine gun fire that they were hard to identify afterward,” the source said.

Ryan Morgan, International Christian Concern’s Regional Manager for East Asia, said, “We were shocked and horrified to hear about the recent mass executions under Kim Jong-un’s rule. At this point, there can be no doubt left that Kim Jong-un is bent on retaining absolute power, even if that means maintaining the genocidal legacy of his father and grandfather. Today we are praying not only for the families of those Christians who were executed on Nov. 3, but for the families of all of the victims of North Korea’s tyrannical regime. We also call on the world not to forget the tens of thousands who suffer daily in utterly deplorable conditions inside North Korea’s labor camps, many simply for their religious beliefs.”   

For interviews, please contact Ryan Morgan at rm-seasia@persecution.org

You are free to disseminate this news story. We request that you reference ICC (International Christian Concern) and include our web address, www.persecution.org. ICC is a Washington D.C. based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC provides Awareness, Advocacy, and Assistance to the worldwide persecuted Church.  For additional information or for an interview, contact ICC at 800-422-5441.


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