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Watchdogs: Persecution of Christians in N. Korea likely to worsen in 2010

By Paul Hobson

1/11/2010 North Korea (ABP) — Persecution of Christians is set to worsen in North Korea, the world’s worst trouble spot for Christians, in 2010, according to a group that tracks the status of Christians globally.

Release International, an England-based charity that supports the persecuted church around the world, made the prediction in an end-of-the-year assessment.

Many North Korean Christians have been sent to death camps as political prisoners, where they are frequently subjected to brutal treatment in appalling conditions.

But with a poor harvest and worsening economy, things are getting worse, said Release International partner Tim Peters.

“The situation in the North is getting worse,” said former prisoner Kang Cheol Hwan, according to Release International. “It is like a giant prison camp has crossed the land. Starvation spreads out over the entire nation; it has become the norm.

“I lived in Yoduk prison camp for 10 years; I was treated like an animal there. I had watched many people die from starvation and beatings. I witnessed open executions and watched helplessly as people died miserably. These fearful scenes have not left my mind.”

Nobody knows how many Christians there are today inside North Korea. Before the communists came to power, the nation was estimated to be home to about 300,000 Christians. However, during the Korean War (1950-53) many fled to South Korea or were killed. The BBC has estimated that up to 30,000 North Koreans may continue to practice Christianity secretly in their homes.

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