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In the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, all the nightmares are real—especially for Christians. A former prison guard in North Korea testified before the U.S. Congress in 2002 about how Christians are singled out for special abuse. The man said that after a woman prisoner was overheard praying aloud for a child who was being beaten, guards repeatedly kicked her. A former prisoner testified that she saw security officers fatally pour molten iron over several elderly Christians. They had refused to renounce their faith and adopt the Orwellian ideology of dictator Kim Jong Il.

The State Department's International Religious Freedom Report, released in September, gives credence to unconfirmed reports that "members of underground churches have been beaten, arrested, tortured, or killed because of their religious beliefs." Defectors, the report says, "claimed that Christians were imprisoned and tortured for reading the Bible and talking about God, and that some Christians were subjected to biological warfare experiments."

Over the last decade, more than 300,000 Koreans have fled this foretaste of hell. Increasing numbers attempt the perilous trek across the border to Communist China every day. Human-rights activist Michael Horowitz, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, says many of these refugees are now "happy to be eating tree bark in China." Yet Chinese authorities are sending an estimated 5,000 refugees back every month, refusing their claims of political asylum and battling a small but determined band of human-rights activists. Shockingly, prosperous and heavily Christian South Korea, pursuing a "Sunshine Policy" of détente with Kim Jong Il, has allowed asylum for precious few North Koreans.

Yet the first signs ...

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December 2004

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