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North Korea: A Family Vanishes

North Korea

Ten-year-old Hyun Joo was different. Very few North Korean children know about Jesus and God. But Hyun Joo believed in God and trusted Him.

Hyun Joo’s parents were Christians. Many North Korean Christians do not talk about God with their children. If the children mention God outside the home, government officials might punish the whole family. The government wants the citizens to honor the country’s leaders, not God.

But Hyun Joo’s parents wanted her to know Jesus. They prayed that God would use her to change North Korea.

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North Korea: First Words

North Korean baby

What were the first words you learned as a baby? “Mama” or “Dada” are the first words of many babies.

“But that’s not really good in North Korea,” said Dr. Eric Foley, the president of VOM-Korea.

The government of North Korea expects people to follow the teachings of Juche (JOO-chay). Juche teaches that human beings are the masters of everything. (Learn more about Juche here.)

Citizens of North Korea must honor:
*Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s first leader, who died in 1994
*Kim Jong Il, Kim Il Sung’s son, who died in 2011
*And Kim Jong Un, Kim Il Sung’s grandson, who now leads the country.

According to Dr. Foley, 43,000 centers across North Korea teach Juche beliefs. And 100 percent of the people must be involved in honoring the leaders. Following Christ is not allowed.

So, if a North Korean baby’s first words are something like mama or dada, the baby’s parents might keep it secret. They don’t want government officials to think their family members are more important to them than the Kim family. If friends ask about the baby’s first words, the parents will often not tell the truth. They will say, instead, that the baby’s words were words from Juche teachings.


Pray that North Korean babies will learn that Jesus loves them.

North Korean Hymn

Christians in North Korea meet together in secret, even though it is very risky. They know they can go to prison just for owning a Bible. Thousands of Christians are in prison. But there are followers of Jesus in North Korea. Press the Play button below to hear a North Korean hymn.

The words to the hymns in English are as follows.

A Spring Flowing In The Desert

  1. A spring will flow in the desert, flowers will bloom in the desert;
    The desert will turn into a flower garden when the kingdom of God comes;
    The kingdom of God where lions play with children, the world of true love and happiness, will come soon.
  2. The desert will be wooded, pretty birds will sing;
    The desert will become paradise when the kingdom of God comes;
    The kingdom of God where children can put their hands into snake dens but snakes do not bite;
    The world of true love and happiness, will come soon.

Read Isaiah 35:6–7 and Isaiah 11:6–9. Which parts of the North Korean hymn remind you of those verses?

North Korea: A Smuggler Escapes


Park Chin-Mae took pride in his job as a border guard for the North Korea military. He arrested anyone he caught trying to sneak out of North Korea, or attempting to smuggle forbidden goods into the country.

But Chin-Mae had a secret. He was guilty of the same crimes for which he arrested others! He smuggled illegal goods into North Korea and sold them to make money.

Then another guard discovered his secret and reported him to the authorities. Chin-Mae went to jail for 60 days. When he got out, he returned to his job — and to smuggling. One day, Chin-Mae discovered six Bibles in a box that a woman smuggled into the country. He was filled with fear. Bibles are forbidden in North Korea, and Chin-Mae had never seen one before. Border guards are not allowed to even open a Bible if they find one. The government wants citizens to put their faith in the country’s rulers, not God. Chin-Mae permitted the Bibles to enter the country, knowing he could be killed if he was caught for allowing them past the border.

A New Life
Like many North Koreans, Chin-Mae wanted to escape the conditions in North Korea, where many people are hungry and citizens have few freedoms. After years of working as a border guard, he knew exactly how to cross the border without getting caught.

Chin-Mae settled in South Korea, and a Christian in his new country told him about God. He began to visit a church, where he volunteered to set out Bibles before the worship service. As he put the Bibles on the empty chairs, he realized that he was holding the book that would have gotten him killed in North Korea.

He began to read the Bible, and in time, he placed his faith in Jesus. “I didn’t just read it like any other book,” Chin-Mae said. “I read it and took every word of the Bible into my heart.”

Chin-Mae is receiving help from The Voice of the Martyrs as he starts his new life in South Korea. He asks people to pray for North Korea and for him as he adjusts to a new way of life with new hope in Jesus.

(Source: The June 2019 The Voice of the Martyrs magazine. Edited for length, clarity, and age appropriateness.)

This Month

Parents and Teachers

The June 2019 issue of The Voice of the Martyrs magazine features stories about bold believers risking their freedom and lives to reach North Koreans with the good news of Jesus. Also included are updates from Sri Lanka, Colombia, Kenya, and Uganda, and information about the upcoming Day of the Christian Martyr (June 29). You can share stories of Christians in those areas from this site with your children, then pray together for the people in the stories.

Note: To subscribe to the free monthly The Voice of the Martyrs magazine, visit the subscription signup page.

Additional Related Resources
*Download Bold Believers activity books for kids that highlight North Korea, Colombia, and Sri Lanka from the Downloads section.

*Find Restricted Nations books about North Korea and Colombia at

*Find a Torchlighters DVD and related resources about Robert Jermain Thomas (North Korea) at and in the Downloads section.

*Click here to find a lesson plan for Colombia.