The Rev. Sung Park of Ahrumdawoon Korean Presbyterian Church in Santa Clarita took his youth group to the show. They, too, couldn’t get in and watched in the church’s TV room. Like those in the West Hills church, Park and his congregants are part of the Korean-American Church Coalition, an organization created to help North Koreans. Park and his congregants also have prayers at 5:30 a.m. and dedicate a good part of those prayers to North Korea. “Everyone knows about the nuclear weapon and the communism, but not the detailed life of what the North Koreans experience every day,” Park said through a translator. During intermission at the “Yoduk Story” musical, workers with the nonprofit group Liberty in North Korea handed out pamphlets with photos of starving children in the Asian country. Adrian Hong, executive director of the Washington, D.C., organization, said the musical accurately depicts the North Korean prison camp. Three million people have died of starvation in North Korea in the last decade, and 400,000 have died in prison camps during that time, Hong said. The regime has an estimated 200,000 people in camps now, based on satellite images of the camps and reports from refugees, he said. Representatives at the North Korean mission to the United Nations declined to comment. In the program for the musical about the political prison camp they survived, the show’s creators describe public executions, forced labor and starvation diets. The musical depicts all these things, even with flourishes of dancing and comedy. One of the show’s lighter moments involves children picking head lice out of a prisoner’s hair, and wondering if they would cook like rice. The Korean-American Church Coalition, which brought “Yoduk Story” to Los Angeles, helped organize 14 prayer meetings for the people of North Korea last year in major U.S. cities. Held as “wailing prayer” meetings, under the slogan “your tear drop will save one life,” the events culminated in a gathering of 12,000 worshippers at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Many of Los Angeles County’s 200,000 Korean-Americans blame Kim, the North Korean leader, for the suffering of his countrymen. Kim, the West Hills church leader, is among them and has attended several of the coalition’s prayer meetings. “We will continue with that prayer meeting until we have the final meeting at Pyongyang,” he said, referring to the North Korean capital. Hong, the head of the nonreligious organization LiNK, takes a less adversarial approach – and has not advocated for the removal of the man referred to in North Korea as “the Great Leader.” “I think more than ever, I think now is a good time when the North Korean government is open to progress, to change – to closing down these camps,” he said. Kim and Hong said their organizations financially support aid workers in China who are secretly feeding and sheltering North Korean refugees. China has an estimated 400,000 of the refugees. And as bleak as the possibility for change appears at times, they both have kept up the fight. “It’s dark before you get to morning prayer,” Kim said. “But after morning prayer, there’s light.” firstname.lastname@example.org (661) 257-5253160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’North Korea’s nuclear bomb test this month galvanized much of the world against the reclusive nation. But Korean-Americans and human-rights groups have another grievance with the regime – the brutal oppression of its own people. Their activism has taken different forms. Over four days this month, a musical stage show called “Yoduk Story,” created by survivors of a North Korean prison camp of the same name, attracted nearly 10,000 spectators to a downtown Los Angeles church. Sun Kim, a saleswoman from Tujunga, and her two adult children were among the overflow crowd at Sunday’s show. The South Korean native saw the graphic portrayal of “Yoduk” – in one scene a child’s hand was severed by prison guards; one lyric begged, “If there is anyone out there, listen to what we have to say.” Kim’s adult children left because the Korean musical was hard for the American-born pair to decipher. But an overflow crowd watched outside on a big-screen TV, with others who couldn’t get into the packed church hall. “I want them to know and understand about the situation in North Korea,” Kim said. WEST HILLS – The Korean-American faithful come before dawn, some in warm jackets to guard against the early morning chill, entering the church’s white-columned back entrance to pray. Ninety minutes later, the last of the congregants file out after voicing tearful pleas for North Korea, a nation marked by prison camps, starvation and a nuclear threat. As they end their prayers, the sun’s first rays break the horizon. It’s a daily ritual at West Hills Presbyterian Church, one of thousands of Korean-American churches across the country that have taken up the cause of North Koreans suffering under the regime of Kim Jong Il. “We pray for Kim Jong Il to repent for his evilness and for the regime to fall, and also pray for the unification of North and South (Korea,)” the Rev. Insik Kim, pastor at the church, said through a translator.