Its 23 million people are ruled by Kim Jong Il (pictured above), the so-called "Dear Leader." His face is everywhere, his reach universal, his power unchallenged. A fearsome army of a million soldiers stands at his command.
A decade-long drought has killed as many as 3 million people. Refugees tell chilling tales of desperate men, women and children reduced to eating grass, tree bark, even human flesh. Attempts at escape are punishable by death, dissent is rare, and news of the outside world is nonexistent. Children are taught their "Dear Leader" is infallible and that their sworn and mortal enemy is the United States.
On October 9, 2006, the world received startling news. North Korea said they had successfully tested a nuclear weapon. It was a frightening development from a country President Bush declared part of "the axis of evil."