Prayer Profile
The Han Chinese of North Korea

[IMAGE] The Han Chinese, or Mandarin Chinese, make up the majority of mainland China's total population. They speak Kuoyu (or Mandarin), which is a form of Chinese that comes from the Sino-Tibetan language family. The Han have emigrated from mainland China for various reasons over the years. As a result, they now live in nearly every country of the world.

Almost 170,000 Han Chinese live in North Korea; yet, they make up less than 1% of the country's total population. About four-fifths of North Korea's land is mountainous. The remainder, which is suitable for farming and industry, contains the entire population of North Korea. The climate is similar to that of New England, except for the cold Siberian winds in the winter. Wildlife includes deer, antelope, wild pigeons, and tigers. The Han Chinese living scattered throughout North Korea have, for most part, retained their Chinese heritage and have even influenced Korean culture.

What Are Their Lives Like?
After World War II, North Korea changed from an agricultural to an industrial nation. This was due primarily to the plentiful supply of electric power in the area. At that time, many of the Han Chinese in North Korea migrated into the industrial cities. Today, the production of iron and steel, industrial and agricultural machinery, and textiles, are the three most important regional industries.

Railroads are an important means of transportation between cities in North Korea. Few automobiles are available, so highway transportation is not important. The roads that do exist are not yet paved. Walking and bicycling are by far the main methods of transportation.

In 1950, a Mandarin law was passed stating that Han Chinese marriages were no longer to be arranged. It also said that a bride-price was no longer mandatory and that women were permitted to file for divorce. A marriage based on love is ideal today. Marriages between minors are no longer considered legal. A newlywed couple may choose to live with either the bride's or the groom's family.

Education is very important to the Han Chinese. They are encouraged to excel in school and are given adequate study time while away from school. For more than 2,000 years, the Han Chinese have developed the "humoral balance" theory. This involves the balance of what are believed to be the four fluids of the body: blood, phlegm, choler, and black bile. Acupuncture, or surface point stimulation with needles, is the result of this theory. Today, acupuncture is practiced in many Western countries, including the United States. It is known to prevent or control diseases, relieve pain, and induce sleep.

Most of the Han Chinese in North Korea have retained their ethnic Chinese traditions. Family groups are tightly knit and children's births are welcomed, in contrast to the one-child-per-family law in China. The Han Chinese are known to be self-reliant, flexible, hard working, and frugal.

What Are Their Beliefs?
Three-quarters of the Han Chinese in North Korea are non-religious; 15% are atheists. This is due to the fact that all religious practices were discouraged by the Communist government.

Most Chinese folk religions include the belief that when a Han Chinese dies, his soul is dispersed in the earth to remain in bones before traveling to the realm of the dead. There, the soul is believed to live as it did while on the earth. Finally, they believe that the soul comes to rest in a wooden or paper spirit tablet that is to be worshipped as an "ancestral spirit." The Han believe that these spirits can cause harm if they are not appeased.

What Are Their Needs?
There are less than 200 known Christians among the 167,000 Han Chinese living in North Korea. Christian resources are available in Mandarin; however, no missions agencies are presently working among these precious people. Prayer is the first step to seeing them reached with the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Prayer Points
  • Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to North Korea and share Christ with the Han Chinese.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to stir up a hunger within the hearts of the Han Chinese to know the one true God.
  • Pray that God will use the few Han Chinese believers to share the love of Christ with their own people.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to anoint the Gospel as it goes forth via radio to the Han Chinese.
  • Pray that Jesus will begin revealing Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Han Chinese bound.
  • Pray that God will raise up intercessors who will faithfully stand in the gap for the Han Chinese.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Han Chinese of North Korea by the year 2000.

See also the following Group:
The Diaspora Han Chinese

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Han Chinese
  • Country: North Korea
  • Their language: Kuoyu
  • Population: (1990) 152,400
    (1995) 167,400
    (2000) 181,900
  • Largest religion: Nonreligious 76%
    Atheist 15%
    Chinese folk-religionist 8.9%
  • Christians: <1%
  • Church members: 167
  • Scriptures in their own language: Bible
  • Jesus Film in their own language: Available
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 0
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 63,800 (39%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 8,500 (6%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 55,300 (33%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 103,600 (61%)
  • Country: North Korea
  • Population: (1990) 21,773,800
    (1995) 23,916,600
    (2000) 25,979,100
  • Major peoples in size order: Korean 99%
    Han Chinese 0.7%
  • Major religions: Nonreligious 57.5%
    Atheist 16.4%
    New-religionist 13.3%
  • Number of denominations: 8

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Bethany World Prayer Center

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