Friday, December 22, 2006

Pastor Buck Is a Rescuer . . .

This being The Wall Street Journal, we went straight to the bottom line. How much, we asked our visitor at a recent editorial board meeting, does it cost to free one North Korean refugee hiding in China?

The Rev. Phillip Buck pauses a moment before replying, apparently making the yuan-to-dollar conversions on the abacus in his mind. "If I do it myself," he says, "the cost is $800 per person. If I hire a broker to do it, it's $1,500."

Pastor Buck is a rescuer. It's a job title that applies to a courageous few--mostly Americans and South Koreans and predominantly Christians--who operate the underground railroad that ferries North Korean refugees out of China to South Korea, and now, thanks to 2004 legislation, to the U.S.

Mr. Buck, an American from Seattle, says he has rescued more than 100 refugees and helped support another 1,000 who are still on the run. For this "crime"--China's policy is to hunt down and repatriate North Koreans--he spent 15 months in a Chinese prison. He was released in August.

[Excerpt of an article by Melanie Kirkpatrick, The Wall Street Journal]

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