LA Times Beijing bureau chief Barbara Demick (pictured) recently flew back to the west coast to speak to students at Brigham Young University. The author of the award-winning book Nothing to Envy, a look at the accumulated life experiences of six defectors, shared her uniquely informed perspective on the so-called Hermit Kingdom.

Demick’s talk is chronicled in a report today by BYU public relations major Michal Christine Savage. The country’s ban of all things Christian is well known. Perhaps not so celebrated is the underlying motive:

“In North Korea everyone is ranked by their loyalty to the regime,” Demick said. “How high your standard is is whether or not your family believes Kim Il Sung is a God-like figure. As you may know, there is no religion in North Korea, but they’ve plagiarized the Bible. If you read North Korean propaganda, Kim Il Sung is God and the son is Jesus. When he was born, there is a star that heralded his birth and then a rainbow. There is a reason they banded the Bible, its because they’ve plagiarized it.”

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