This article claims that people may be killed for owning a bible. How true is it?

  • Probably hard to verify. There aren't very many North Koreans and the country is pretty socially isolated.
    – fredsbend
    May 4 '16 at 17:10
  • 5
    In a country with no rule of law, you can be killed for whatever reason the government wants. I guess possible alternative questions are whether there's a law against owning a bible that is punishable by death, and whether the government is so opposed to owning a bible that it'd kill people for doing so. May 5 '16 at 4:34

North Korea claims to have limited freedom of religion and has a few Christian churches. However, these are widely believed to be for show for the purposes of foreigners:

Except at the handful of state-controlled houses of worship, which are widely believed to exist for the benefit of foreigners, religious believers typically practice their faith individually and secretly, sometimes even keeping their faith private from members of their own family.


In pracitice, the above United States Commission on International Religious Freedom report claims that North Koreans can be imprisoned (or worse) for possessing religious items - this would almost certainly include Bibles. Christians are especially targeted:

The North Korean government reserves its most severe persecution for Christians, although in practice the regime is adverse to all organized religion. Based on information collected by the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights, individuals face persecution for propagating religion, possessing religious items, carrying out religious activities (including praying and singing hymns), and having contact with religious persons. Christians believed to have committed any of these acts are typically jailed, or worse. In prison, Christians reportedly endure harsher treatment than other prisoners.


The reports of people actually being executed for owning a Bible may come from a South Korean newspaper report:

One of South Korea's largest newspapers has reported that North Korea executed around 80 people in early November, some for such prohibited activities as viewing South Korean television shows and possessing Bibles.



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