North Korea: Christians starved, beaten, tortured, shot, forced to have abortions

One Christian was put in a 4ft by 3ft cage that was heated using electricity and kept there for 12 hours until he soiled himself and passed out, before being beaten while unconscious

A new report from the London-based Korea Future Initiative contains horrifying tales of abuse suffered by religious prisoners in North Korea, where worshipping anyone other than Kim Jong-un is strictly forbidden.

The report was obtained by

Staff of the organization, which helps rescue people from the isolated, backward communist nation, interviewed 117 exiled North Koreans about their experiences of religious persecution within the country, dating from 1990 until 2019.

Survivors of prisons and “re-education” camps described how young children were arrested and given body cavity searches, women were forced to have abortions or have their newborns killed, and others were worked to death in forced labor camps.

People who were arrested for possessing Bibles were fed on soup made of water and sand, tortured using an electrified metal cage and shot in front of other prisoners.

While the prisons are designed to punish believers in any religion, former inmates indicated that the harshest punishments were reserved for Christians. They described hundreds of incidents of people being punished for their beliefs, including public executions, beatings, torture and sexual assaults.

In one case, a man who had converted to Christianity was put into a 3′ by 4′ metal cage.

“There were steel bars on all four-sides that were heated with electricity,” he said. “Usually prisoners lasted only three or four hours in the cage, but I sat there for 12 hours and prayed. I kept praying to God to save me.”

The man said he eventually passed out. When he woke up, he found guards had removed him from the cage and beaten him while he was unconscious, leaving him with severe injuries.

Female prisoners were also subjected to horrifying treatment, including forced abortions in North Hamgyong province. One subject recalled how women would be forced into labour using injections, and give birth to live babies. The babies would then be smothered by guards using sheets of plastic or cloth sacks.

While most of the punishment took place inside North Korea, the report also documented abuse of North Koreans in China – usually before they were deported back to their home country for further torture.


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