The family was sentenced in 2009 to life in prison for their religious practices and for having a Bible. The entire family, including a two-year-old boy, was sent to a prison camp.
A North Korean family, including a two-year-old boy, was sentenced to life in prison camp in 2009 for being Christian, the latest US State Department report on religious freedom has revealed.
The document, which cites a 2021 report by Korea Future, a non-governmental organization that investigates and documents human rights violations in North Korea, reports on different abuses committed against North Koreans for professing the most diverse religions and creeds. North Korea is an atheist state, and as such, religious practice is strongly discouraged.
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The Korea Future report is based on interviews with 244 victims of religious persecution between the ages of two and 80, most of whom are practitioners of shamanism (150) and Christianity (91). Most of the respondents were women (more than 70%), charged with different religious practices in North Korea and China or with possession of religious objects, among other crimes.
A victim sentenced to time in a prison camp described having to work without being adequately fed. “He suffered from malnutrition and was not sure if he would survive,” she said, confessing that he weighed “only 35 kilos” and that he “looked like a skeleton.” According to the US State Department report, other prisoners were subjected to physical and psychological violence, forced to remain in uncomfortable positions for long periods of time, and forced to eat contaminated food.
The document also gives an account of the case of a Christian family, sentenced in 2009 to life imprisonment for their religious practices and for owning a Bible. The entire family was taken to a prison camp, including a two-year-old boy.
According to a report by Open Doors USA, a non-governmental organization that works in favor of persecuted Christians, also cited by the US State Department, Christians are considered “the most dangerous political class” in North Korea and their persecution is “violent and intense.” The document describes life for North Korean Christians as “a cauldron constantly under pressure” and estimates that between 50,000 and 70,000 are in prison.