The International Day of Prayer for North Korea came at a time of mounting concern about "an estimated 200,000 North Koreans, including women and children, currently being held in torture camps of the most terrible cruelty," organizers said. Other estimates put that figure even several times higher.
"Many are Christians; most are imprisoned because they or their relatives are believed to be critical of the North Korean regime," groups organizing the International Day of Prayer added.
In addition, "Millions have starved to death and continue to starve because the regime has prevented the hostile class from receiving aid; all Christian families are classified as hostile."
Christians around the world were urged to pray for suffering believers as well as the "hundreds of thousands of North Koreans who have fled to China to escape persecution and starvation. If caught by the Chinese police, they are forcibly repatriated back to North Korea where they face imprisonment or execution."
Open Doors and other advocacy groups supporting the prayer day have also expressed concerns that a "majority of people in North Korea have never heard the Word of God, or heard the name of Jesus Christ."
Several observers visiting North Korea have alleged that people are forced to worship current North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il and his deceased father, Kim Il-Sung as gods. "Christianity is seen as the greatest threat to the North Korean regime."
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has reportedly said "there are virtually no personal freedoms in North Korea and no protection for universal human rights."
North Korean officials have denied human rights abuses saying the people of North Korea love the "Dear Leader" Kim-Jong Il.
Sunday’s prayer campaign is part of a week-long North Korea Freedom Week, held in the United States and other countries till May 3, which includes rallies and prayer services for the Communist-run nation.