PYONGYANG, North Korea (ChurchMilitant.com) - A new report reveals the disturbing conditions of being a Christian inside of Communist North Korea. The religious liberty activist group Christian Solidarity Worldwide released the study Thursday.
The report states, "Documented incidents against Christians include being hung on a cross over a fire, crushed under a steamroller, herded off bridges, and trampled underfoot."
The report goes on to detail the various tortures Christian have to suffer under the hand of the Communist-style dictatorship of Kim Jong Un.
A former North Korean top security agent commented, "[Christianity] is so persecuted because, basically, it is related to the United States ... and is considered spying. Since Americans conveyed Christianity and since they are the ones who attempted to invade our country, those who are Christians are spies. Spies are executed."
The report shows Christians almost always have to practice their faith in secret. If they are discovered they are subject to detention and most likely taken to political prison camps known as "kwanliso."
The report documents these kwanliso prison camps are "extremely harsh." "Prisoners are forced to carry out long days of hard labor," it explains, "such as mining and logging. Malnutrition is rife due to the poor rations, and increases the mortality rate."
"Horrific accounts of torture, forced labor, starvation, sexual assault and even execution confirm the brutality of a system that despises religious believers and their freedoms," the report continued.
One victim of the North Korean gulag who managed to escape detailed the horrific experiences in the work camps, where prisoners are routinely forced to work 16–20 hour days. North Korea believes in "guilt by association" and often the grandchildren are punished for crimes of their grandparents.
Testifying at a UN conference last year, Kim Hye-Sook, taken to a prison camp at age 13, said, "I was taken to Prison Camp 18, and I was imprisoned there for 28 years, living in a life that is unimaginable, a life that is worse than a dog's, living a life like a slave."
As with Jews in the Nazi death camps, Christians are often used as test subjects for medical experiments. "Forms of torture include beatings with fists or implements such as electric rods, wooden pokers, metal poles, water torture through forced submersion, and being used as test subjects for medical training and experimentation."
The report is a comprehensive gathering of recent surveys, interviews and studies based entirely on secondary sources because of the near-impossibility of on-the-ground research inside the Communist country.
The report urges the international community to take action. China has been influential in returning escapees back to North Korea, where they are tortured and thrown into political prison. "The Chinese authorities have forcibly returned tens of thousands of North Koreans," the report stated.
From a Catholic point of view, the North Korean people are entirely deprived of the sacraments. "There is no resident Catholic priest anywhere in the country and just one Catholic church building in Pyongyang, Changchung Cathedral. But experts say it holds no confessions, baptisms or sacraments."
One bright side to the study cited that in December 2015, the Bishops Conference of South Korea announced they made an agreement with the North Korean government and would be sending priests to North Korea on a "regular basis" to offer the sacraments.