Among the oppressed peoples of the world, none has suffered more than the North Koreans. The utter lack of freedom—religious, political, economic—in the dictatorship has long been known. Erasing any doubt, unprecedented information concerning the nation’s prison system was revealed a couple years ago by the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.

Those searching for a ray of hope—anything—were heartened by news that North and South Koreas had agreed to construct a rail link, the first such transportation connection between the two nations since the hostilities of the 1950s. And it looked as though it would really happen. But maybe not. It is evidently impossible to overestimate the mendacity (insanity, some suggest) of Kim Jong-Il and his comrades.