North Korea's isolated regime is the most oppressive in the world. North Koreans are indoctrinated with an ideology called "Juche," a philosophy of self-reliance that centers on worship of the country's leaders. Following Kim Jong Il's death in December 2011, power was transferred to his son, Kim Jong Un, who seems determined to carry on his father's policies. North Korea maintains one of the world's largest standing armies and an expansive system of political prison camps, which hold a significant number of individuals arrested for "illegal"; religious activity. North Korea has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the USCIRF since 2001.
North Korea is the worst persecutor of Christians in the world. Christians are tortured, imprisoned and murdered. Private, non-state-sanctioned religious activity is prohibited. Anyone discovered engaging in clandestine religious activity is subject to arrest, torture or even public execution. Under the ideology of Juche, the only acceptable religion is "Kim-Il-Sungism." However, the North Korean government is careful to maintain a facade of religious freedom with four "show" churches in its capital city. When Christians are executed, they are typically charged with being spies or being involved in illegal activities. As many as 100,000 believers are thought to worship secretly. Experts estimate that of the hundreds of thousands incarcerated in labour and concentration camps, about 30,000 are Christians. Religious prisoners are typically treated worse than any of the other inmates. Possessing a Bible, saying the words God or Jesus and meeting together are all offenses punishable by death.