Online journal Slate has an article on the semi-covert attempts of Christian missionaries to get into North Korea. It discusses first the case of Kenneth Bae, now serving a 15-year prison term for his evangelism work, and then it looks at others who are trying the same.
There are risks:
One American minister in Seoul warns that as many as 70 percent of the supposedly underground North Korean Christians are actually government informants, looking to entrap adherents and those who help them.
But still the missionaries arrive:
At least five Americans have been arrested and imprisoned by North Korean authorities in recent years; according to the AP, at least three of those have been devout Christians. One American missionary, who also did not want to be identified because he still travels to North Korea, says he is prepared to die for his calling.
Any Christian hoping to spend extended periods of time in North Korea must come up with an officially acceptable reason for being there. In this instance, the missionary entered first with a business group then set out to establish his own. He and his organization have invested an amount he estimated at “more than several million” dollars in various North Korean ventures, including a number of factories. (The money comes primarily from donations from Korean-American Presbyterian congregations.)
He explained that he is usually supervised by the same North Korean minders when he visits the country. He claims they are fully aware of his religious beliefs, even going so far as to ask him to offer the occasional prayer at mealtime.
The missionary’s long-standing relationships still do not guarantee his safety, and he follows certain self-imposed rules. Though he has been asked, he refuses to assist North Koreans looking to escape the country; if he or any of his group were caught doing so, it would mean, at best, immediate expulsion.