Continued from page 2

“They know they would get severely punished,” he said, adding that he thinks many North Koreans aren’t even aware of religion as an option.

Mr. Son was arrested again in January 2006 after police found Bibles at his home in the northeastern city of Hoeryong. He also was charged with spying for the United States and South Korea and sentenced to public execution by firing squad.

His brother launched an international campaign to save him. That apparently led his captors to switch to a less public method: torture. “There are many ways to kill people in North Korea,” his brother said.

Mr. Son died in a prison in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, in December 2008.

“He told me his dream is to build a church at a good Pyongyang location and work as a pastor there,” his brother said. “I thought the religious faith completely changed his fate.”

His death went unannounced, at least outside North Korea. It was not until nearly a year later - when a fellow inmate who had been released managed to call in November - that the younger Mr. Son learned his brother had died.