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A whistle-stop visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong Il to a church in China is not a sign that the secretive communist regime’s stance toward religion is softening, South Korean Catholics say. Kim visited a Catholic church in Jilin, in northeastern China, during his Aug. 26-30 trip to the country. The church visit immediately sparked speculation that North Korea might relax its rigid stance toward Catholicism and other religions. But Father Baptist John Kim Hun-il of the Korean bishops’ conference was quick to dismiss such speculation. It goes too far to say his visit has a hidden message, he said. “It seems the visit was just part of his trip. North Korea has not given any sign of improving its relationship not only with the Catholic Church but with other religions in South Korea.”