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Seven Facts About North Korea

A balloon launch

Recently, Todd Nettleton of VOM Radio interviewed Dr. Eric Foley from VOM Korea.  Dr. Foley talked about launching Bibles inside balloons into North Korea, where Christianity is illegal. Read below some interesting facts about North Korea from the interview.

*To the North Korean government, it’s worse to be a Christian than to be a thief or a murderer.

*2018 was the most difficult year for balloon launches. In the fall of the year, VOM Radio listeners were asked to pray for the launches. By the end of the year, 30,000 new Bibles had been placed in North Korea by balloons. (See a video about balloon launches from a previous year here.)

*“North Korea, the most closed country in the world, is the only country in the world where Bibles fall from the sky,” said Dr. Foley.

*To the North Korean government, sending Bibles into their country is worse than sending missiles.

*When we started balloon launching, zero percent of people inside North Korea had ever seen a Bible with their own eyes,” said Dr. Foley. “Now more than eight percent of North Korean people have seen a Bible.”

*Some ways that Christians share the gospel with North Korea are secret. It’s better to “pray about it a lot and talk about it a little.”

*North Koreans are expected to worship their former leader, Kim Il Sung, who is now dead. “[North Korea] is the only neocracy in the world — the only country ruled by a dead man,” said Dr. Foley. (Kim Jong Un, the grandson of Kim Il Sung, is the current living leader of North Korea.)

Statues of Kim Il Sung and his son

Can you use the seven facts above to guide you in prayer for North Korea?

To learn about North Korean Christians, download Bold Believers in North Korea from the Downloads section.


North Korea: Crossing the Border Game

Background
Some North Koreans try to escape their country by crossing a frozen river in the winter. Guards watch the river to try to stop anyone from escaping.

Guards in some countries also try to keep people from sneaking into their country, especially if they are carrying Bibles. The governments of some countries do not want their citizens to learn about Jesus. Christians in one place found a way to take Bibles into those countries in the winter. Guards near the border looked for footprints in the snow. They sent attack dogs in the direction of the footprints. So the Christians walked backwards in the snow at night to take Bibles into the countries that did not allow Bibles. When border guards looked down at the footprints from their towers in the morning, they sent their search dogs in the wrong direction!

How to Play
Divide into two teams with an equal number of players. Give each team a bag of three or four books. Make a starting line and a finish line several yards apart. Line up the teams behind the starting line. When a leader says, “Go,” the first player on each team walks/runs backwards to the finish line, carrying the bag of books. The player drops the books behind him beyond the finish line. The second player walks/runs backwards to the books, picks them up without turning around, then runs back to the starting line. Play continues until all the players on one team have finished the task. That team wins.


How Do North Koreans Pray?

A secret meeting in North Korea

In North Korea, it is against the law to choose to follow Jesus or to own a Bible. A listener on VOMRadio.net asked the following questions.

  • In a country like North Korea, how do Christians pray?
  • How do they gather together?
  • What is a worship service like in North Korea?

Todd Nettleton, host of VOM Radio, asked Rev. Eric Foley to answer the listener’s questions. Rev. Foley is the leader of VOM Korea.

Rev. Foley: A lot of ideas we have about North Koreans hiding under a blanket to read the Bible or sneaking out of their homes at night aren’t exactly accurate. And the reason why is that everyone in North Korea is required to spy on homes that are near their own.

Things like hiding under a blanket or sneaking out of your home would make the neighbors suspicious. So when things like that happen it is usually on the border of North Korea.

North Koreans who are in the interior of North Korea who have been Christians for generations actually worship very differently. They have developed ways of worship that they can do even when people who are not Christians are watching.

One of the ways is that underground [secret] believers pray with their eyes open. They look at the person they are with as if they are having a conversation with that person. And instead of referencing God, for example, they use a phrase like “Dear Leader.” [“Dear Leader” is a title used for the former leader of their country, who is now dead. In this case, Christians are using the title to talk secretly about God.]

So instead of bowing their heads and closing their eyes, they might look at the person sitting next to them and say, “I am so concerned about Sister Kim, who is sick. But I am thankful that our Dear Leader will show special care for her as she needs love and attention.” That would be how underground Christians pray.

The way that they have worship services is on a family level. People in the same family worship together. But people from different families typically do not gather together for worship in North Korea.

(Source: VOMRadio.net. Edited and paraphrased for length and clarity.)

Enter “North Korea” in the Search box on this site to find more stories about North Korean Christians.


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.

Read the rest of this entry »


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.

(Source: VOMRadio.net)

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