Christian pastor murdered after helping North Korean refugees

A Chinese pastor has been killed on the North Korea-China border after a lifetime dedicated to helping refugees.

Han Choong Yeol's body was found riddled with stab and axe wounds on April 30. He was killed by North Korean spies, according to the persecution charity Open Doors.

Han had left his home town of Changbai on the Chinese side of the Sino-Korean border at midday and when he had not returned later that afternoon, a large search operation was launched.

His body was discovered around 8pm.

Han's colleagues desribed him as "extremely passionate for North Koreans" and he regularly helped refugees from the authoritarian state with food, medicine and clothes. According to Open Doors Han knew his life was in danger after a deacon at his church was kidnapped in November 2014 and never returned.

"His ministry came with a price," said the charity in a statement.

Han was 49 when he died and left behind a wife, a son and a daughter.

Up to 70,000 Christians are estimated to be imprisoned in North Korean labour camps and Open Doors ranks the country as the most dangerous place in the world to be a Christian. Faith is illegal and all Christians face torture, imprisonment and even death if they are caught worshipping.