Celebrating Christmas Illegally in This Country Can Be Sentenced to Death Lifestyle – 1 day ago

Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – Most Christians in the world are preparing to commemorate Christmas which falls every December 25th. However, in fact there is a country that prohibits celebrating this holiday, with consequences up to the death penalty for celebrating it.

North Korea is a country that prohibits its residents from embracing any religion. This rule practically makes the entire population of North Korea atheists, although there are citizens who secretly practice religious rituals and if caught face the threat of being imprisoned or even sentenced to death.

Kang Jimin, a North Korean defector quoted by The Independentadmitted that he had no idea Christmas existed while living in the capital city of Pyongyang.

“Christmas is the birthday of Jesus Christ but North Korea is clearly a communist country so people don't know who Jesus Christ is. They don't know who God is. The Kim family is their God,” said Jimin.

Surprisingly, trees decorated with Christmas baubles and lights can be found in Pyongyang, but they are there all year round and residents are unaware of their celebration's connotation with the Christian holiday.

However, history records that North Korea was once a Christian country before the Korean War broke out. In fact, many priests actually come from the northern region of Korea.

“About 60 years ago, North Korea was a very Christian country. People even called it the 'Jerusalem of the East',” said Jimin.

Even now, he believes, there are still North Korean people who secretly practice Christian teachings, even though there are heavy consequences they have to bear if they are discovered.

“You can't say you are Christian. If you do, they will take you to a prison camp,” he said. “I heard there was a family who believed in God and the police arrested them. They are all dead now – even the children – 10 years old and 7 years old.”

“My friend works in the secret police and he told me that they arrested Christian families who were trying to convert people,” he continued.

However, it should be noted that there are several state-supported and controlled Christian churches in North Korea, but their form is very different from churches in general. The North Korean Center for Human Rights Database (NKDB) estimates there are 121 religious facilities in the country, including 64 Buddhist temples, 52 Cheondoist temples, and five state-controlled Christian churches.

According to Kang, the church cannot be visited by ordinary citizens. Instead of being used as places of worship, churches in North Korea are only used as places for tourists to visit.

“If someone asks, 'Is there a church here?', they can answer: 'Of course we have a church, we have everything because we are a free country', then they will take a tour there.”

[Gambas:Video CNBC]

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