North Korea tops a watch-dog list.

By February 26, 2004

International (MNN) — For the third straight year, the isolated communist nation of North Korea remains atop the Open Doors “World Watch List” of countries where Christians
are persecuted.

The annual list ranks countries according to the intensity of persecution Christians face for actively pursuing their faith. Saudi Arabia retains the second spot followed by Laos, Vietnam, Iran, Turkmenistan, Maldives, Bhutan, Myanmar (Burma) and China.

Myanmar and China are newcomers to the top 10 — Myanmar was ranked 13th last year and China 11th. No. 12 Pakistan (sixth last year) and No. 11 Somalia (ninth last year) fell out of the top 10. Iran climbed five places compared to the 2003 list, rising to No. 5 from No. 10. The change is primarily due to the number of Christians being arrested and held without trial for their religious beliefs during the past year. In December a large number of Christians with an Islamic background were also physically harmed in connection with their newfound faith.

For years, little information about the church emerged from Kim Il Sung’s harsh North Korean regime that is now ruled by his son, Kim Jong Il. Recent years, however, have seen a stream of information coming from North Korean refugees fleeing to China. They report that the church has not only survived but grown. To visibly practice the Christian faith in North Korea today can still result in imprisonment and death. North Korea is ranked atop the World Watch List for the third straight year.

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