"If a Buddhist priest [helps a North Korean defector], he goes to a temple, and if a Sister, then he goes to a Catholic church. If an evangelical does the same, he goes to a Protestant church," Kim Sung Min, chairman of the Association of North Korean Defectors in South Korea, said.
Defectors are often highly suspicious and distrustful at the beginning of new contacts, but later become open to religious teachings because of the unconditional assistance they receive from those who preach them.
Later, such defectors, who live precarious lives in hiding for fear of repatriation by the Chinese authorities, may spread their faith to other defectors, and even among relatives back home in North Korea, where only limited forms of state-sponsored worship are tolerated.
Lee Soon Ja said she used to run a shelter on behalf of evangelist missionaries for fugitive young North Koreans who had been reduced to begging and picking pockets.
"There were five young people in my sarangbang, a shelter furnished for those people who were taken care of by me," Lee told RFA.
"The youngest of them was 17 years old and the oldest was 21. I served meals for them, preached the Bible to them, and we prayed together. I sent the younger ones to school, and I finally settled here in South Korea," Lee said.
[Radio Free Asia]