As well as interviewing ‘ordinary’ refugees, [the US Commission on International Religious Freedom in 2008] interviewed former members of the [North Korean] security services who had escaped. Their stories largely confirm the extent to which religion in general, and Protestantism in particular, is seen by the Northern regime as an existential threat, and suppressed ferociously. This includes the deliberate creation of fake underground churches in order to trap would-be converts, and of course to foment distrust amongst believers. This much is perhaps predictable, and fits into the agenda which one might imagine USCIRF would be keen to hear (not that I doubt it). But there are some glimpses of something more complicated. One former security official described a remarkable visit to a high-ranking official’s house, at which the two of them and a third official ‘worshipped together in his house with the curtains drawn’. They read the Bible aloud and prayed for Kim Jong Il. The newcomer asked how they reconciled their faith with their official position:Not heroic: but there is a certain kind of plausible courage there. These are the sorts of perilous compromises which are made under those circumstances. In practical terms, there is virtually nothing outsiders can do about these horrors. But it would seem appropriate - and indeed, deeply subversive - to pray.They said that it was a heartbreaking job to catch Christians while they, too, were Christians, but they had to stay in their positions because their situation could turn even worse if an evil-minded person was in that position to ferret out believers. So they keep their positions and sometimes advise people to run away.