By BosNewsLife Asia Service with additional reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos
SEOUL/PYONGYANG (BosNewsLife) — North Korea is hiding coronavirus patients in ”quarantine camps” where they are left to starve to death, Christian aid workers revealed.
Christian activist Tim Peters, who runs Seoul-based charity Helping Hands Korea, quoted local sources saying that the camps for COVID-19 sufferers were built near the Chinese border.
Peters said he was “alarmed” to discover that North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un’s government ”is providing absolutely minimal or no food or medicine to those who are interred there.”
“It is up to the families of the quarantined citizens to come to the edge of the camps and bring food to keep quarantined relatives alive, ” he said. The relatives also arrive with” whatever health-related aids that they can muster,” he noted. This included medicines “sold in the jangmadang [local] markets or even herbal home remedies gathered from mountainsides.”
He added: “My sources indicate many in these camps have already died, not only from the pandemic but also from starvation and related causes.”
Peters, whose NGO delivers medical and other supplies to the North, said the reported neglect matched survivors’ testimonies of North Korea’s political labor camps.
Among those detained are many thousands of Christians, according to several well-informed sources.
Pastor David Lee, who supports North Korean defectors in South Korea’s capital Seoul, quoted refugees as saying that COVID-19 patients are being forced into isolation. Or they are “being boarded up in their homes without food or other support and left to die,” he added.
However, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un claims that his isolated nation is “coronavirus free.”He also said in a recent speech that he was “grateful not a single person” had tested positive for the disease.
The pandemic added to difficulties for Christians. North Korea is routinely ranked as among the world’s most dangerous places to be a Christian, according to several Christian advocacy groups.
“Believers have been executed simply for owning a Bible,” charity Barnabas Fund told Worthy News
“Tens of thousands of Christians – sometimes entire families – have been incarcerated in labor camps where they are abused, tortured and worked to death,” the group added.
Despite hardships under the atheistic-Communist regime, there are some 300,000 devoted Christians among North Korea’s roughly 26-million people, explained Christian advocacy organization Open Doors.
“From that 300,000, Open Doors estimates that 50,000-70,000 Christians are currently imprisoned in terrible labor camps for their faith,” the well-informed group warned. “It is unlikely that they will ever be able to leave.”