Newsletter of the District
Quick Look at North Korea
a few thousands only, with no bishop, no priest, no brother, no
In its edition
of March 1, 2001, the French periodical Eglises d’Asie, made
known a report given to the United Nation by the North Korean Authorities,
last May 2000, and rendered public by the UN only last February
2001. This report is the first one since 1950 to address the issue
of religions in North Korea. Beside speaking of associations for
the Buddhists and the Protestants, it mentions for the first time
the existence of a Korean Association of Roman Catholics. No statistics
however were given on the number of faithful and their places of
show that North Koreans do enjoy religious freedom, the authorities
of North Korea have informed the U.N. that 10 religious books have
recently been published, four of which were for the Catholics.
There is no
mention in the report of Catholic schools although it is said that
“the Central Committee of the Korean Association of Roman Catholics
also gives instruction to its students”.
As one could
expect, the report makes no mention of any missionary activity in
the country. Under the heading “Prohibition of warlike propaganda”,
one can read that “all citizens and all foreigners legally
residing in North Korea” share the same rights, whatever their
nationality, race or religion. It is also specified that any disorder
for violent, hostile or discriminatory action done for a national,
racial or religious motive is considered as a violation of this
equality of rights.
of this report recalls that the Constitution guarantees to every
citizen religious liberty and the right to build whatever equipment
needed for the practice of one’s religion. In fact, since the end
of the 1980s, a Catholic church and two Protestant temples are visible
in Pyongyang. However according to relations of the rare visitors
allowed in these building, the Catholic church is without a priest
whilst the Protestant temple has two pastors. According to some
rare testimonies of North Korean faithful, there should be small
and scattered communities throughout the country, but they are persecuted
by the authorities.
no.326, March 1, 2001, pp.6-7.