North Korea remains atop 2024 list of countries where Christians are at most risk

January 19, 2024

The State Department report on religious freedom in North Korea says that “authorities held 50,000 to 70,000 citizens in prison for being Christian.” Even Christians who were not imprisoned “experienced persecution that was ‘violent and intense.’” The report stated that “life for Christians … is a constant cauldron of pressure; capture or death is only a mistake away.”

For more coverage of the persecution of Christians in North Korea, see here.

“Christian persecution rising; North Korea remains atop 2024 World Watch List,” The Baptist Paper, January 17, 2024:

North Korea remains atop the list of countries where persecution of Christians is highest, Open Doors reported Jan. 17 amid the release of its 2024 World Watch List. The annual report highlights the top 50 countries where Christians are most at risk for living out their faith.

This is the second consecutive year North Korea has been named the world’s worst country to be a Christian after dropping down to No. 2 in 2022. That year Afghanistan jumped into the top spot, but has since dropped to No. 10 on the list. Before that, North Korea had been in the top spot since 2002.

Others in the top 10 include Somalia (2), Libya (3), Eritrea (4), Yemen (5), Nigeria (6), Pakistan (7), Sudan (8) and Iran (9).

“More than 365 million Christians face high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith — that’s one in seven Christians globally,” the organization noted in a promotional video on its website. Open Doors has been supporting and advocating for the persecuted church for nearly seven decades.

North Korea

In 2023, North Korea reportedly strengthened its border with China, Open Doors reported, “so it’s now harder for Christians to flee and harder for support to reach them.” In North Korea, simply owning a Bible is illegal and can cost someone their life.

“Christians are sent to appalling labor camps or simply killed on the spot,” they noted.

“… Being discovered as a follower of Jesus is effectively a death sentence.”

One Christian, identified as “Ji Ho,” shared with Open Doors that her father was arrested when authorities found his “secret book.” “She never saw him again.”

‘Disturbing increase in persecution’

Other countries spotlighted in the report include Algeria (15), which has risen four places on the World Watch List, “with a disturbing increase in persecution,” Open Doors reported. “Previously, there were 47 Protestant churches in the country. Now only four remain open, and they are under intense pressure,” they said.

In China (19), more than 10,000 churches closed in China in 2023….

Meanwhile in Nigeria, more Christians are killed for their faith than anywhere else on the globe, the organization reported. Read more about persecution in Nigeria here….

In 2023, 14,766 churches and Christian properties were reportedly attacked….