The North Korean policy towards religion is simple-annihilation. However, some changes in actual religious persecution have been noticed. This is not because the official polity towards religion has been amended, but rather because the attitudes of those who monitor religious activities have been altered.
The wealthy are not punished for their religious activities. Everyone in North Korea-regardless of their social position, or education- is primarily interested in money-the agents of the National Security Agency(or any other security force) are not immune to this. Therefore, when any issue regarding religion occurs, the first thought of the agent is typically of money.
Recently, there have been several cases in which it has appeared that religious suspects have been only lightly punished for their activities and then released. In these cases, they were released thanks to bribery. In the past, it had been impossible to avoid strict punishment, but recently a bribe is enough to secure one’s release.
In fact, agents of the NSA have accepted bribes without even bring criminal charges against the offenders. Even if one is charged with a religious related offence, the NSA agents have reported the crime to their upper level managers as misdemeanors in order to obtain a bribe. However, if one cannot afford to bribe an official, they will be punished for the serious crime that a religious offense is.
In other cases, offenders have been used as informants or double agents. Government agents utilize suspects who cannot afford bribes by turning them into informants rather than punishing them.
Those who have been arrested for religious offenses mostly tend to deny any religious persuasion. In addition, there are also many impostor religious person. These people pose to be religious in hopes of obtaining food or financial support from underground religious organizations.
Agents do not punish these fake believers, but instead use them as double agents in order to root out the true religious organizers. However, even these double agents can be bribed. Again, the primary objective of their search for religious organizers is to line their pockets with bribes, not to punish and defeat religious in North Korea.
Therefore, cases in which government agents have upheld the full punishment of religious believers have been rare because there is, quite simply, nothing to earn personally from such a principled punishment.