It seems like just another story about missionaries to North Korea. Then you realize that this Associated Press story is about North Koreans who somehow escape their country to take refuge in China, then return to their native land to secretly convert other North Koreans to Christianity. That's a new angle.
These stories are not easy to get. First, you have to have contacts in an obscure corner of northeast China who will talk with you. You also need decent translators who understand religious terms.
Then you need to connect the dots between the North Korean government and a group of determined Christians just across the Chinese border. So as you read this, look for signs of research, the sources for facts and insights.
Also, notice the life-and-death stakes. This is dangerous territory. The further you read on, the better the plot gets.
SOUTHERN JILIN PROVINCE, China (AP) -- To the North Koreans gathered beneath a crucifix in an apartment in this northeastern Chinese border region, she is known as “mom.” She feeds them, gives them a place to stay and, on occasion, money.
In return, the 69-year-old Korean-Chinese woman asks them to study the Bible, pray and sing hymns. She also has a more ambitious, and potentially dangerous, goal: She wants the most trusted of her converts to return to North Korea and spread Christianity there.
Along the North Korean border, dozens of such missionaries are engaged in work that puts them and their North Korean converts in danger. Most are South Koreans, but others, like the woman, are ethnic Koreans whose families have lived in China for generations. In recent years, 10 such front-line missionaries and pastors have died mysteriously, according to the Rev. Kim Kyou Ho, head of the Seoul-based Chosen People Network, a Christian group that runs a memorial hall in the South Korean capital for the victims. North Korea is suspected in all those deaths.
We’re then told why this secret missionizing might be of interest to the greater world at large.