Bringing Christmas to North Korea

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North Korea (MNN)– To many North Koreans, Christmas is a completely foreign concept. But with the help of Alpha Relief, an initiative of Global Advance, the holiday may open doors for sharing the Gospel with North Korean migrant workers who are laboring in other countries.

In North Korea, Christmas in its truest sense, is basically forbidden, says Ben Gabriel, Alpha Relief’s director at Global Advance.

Gabriel explains that Kim Jong Un’s grandmother was born on Christmas Eve, so their government has refocused the attention of the holiday to celebrate her and her birth, rather than the birth of Christ.

“On paper, North Korea says there is religious freedom and they have a state-sanctioned Christian church,” Gabriel says. “But really, any open expression of Christianity, Christmas included, is punishable. They do punishments by a three-generation system, going after both your parents and your children if you are caught doing anything that the state is not a fan of.”

Gabriel says that people who truly believe in and celebrate Christmas must do so in secret.


“I’ve heard stories of going out into the forest to worship and celebrate together,” he says, adding that there is an underground church in the country. “It is a bit difficult to get real good reliable data on how widespread this is, but there are hidden, secret meetings of believers who worship in private and might pass each other on the street with a slight nod of the head or whatever they do to at least try to maintain some sense of community.”

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