RAIN DOWN you heavens, from above!
Serving with the persecuted church since 1967
And let the skies pour down righteousness; Let the earth open, Let them bring forth salvation Isaiah 45:8a
μάρτσς In the 1980s, the South Korean government launched balloons containing propaganda flyers into NK. Each 40 foot tall balloon could carry thousands of flyers. But when the South Korean government sought to pacify the North during the so-called “Sunshine Policy” years, they asked the North Korean government, “What can we do to improve relations?” “Stop doing the shortwave radio broadcasts,” the NKs said, “And stop sending the balloon flyers!” So the South Korean government mothballed the radio equipment and the balloons. In the 90’s, when the growing North Korean Christian defector community begin to seek God on how to partner with their brothers and sisters still inside NK to spread the Gospel, they quickly realized what they needed to do: broadcast Christian messages in the NK dialect every day using shortwave radio, and send gospel balloon flyers—as many as possible—into the North, and do all this as cheaply as possible. Because they had, you know, no money. So with the support of VOM they studied the technology used by the South Korean government and adapted it. They created new
balloons out of the plastic used by farmers to cover their fields. They switched from more expensive helium to less expensive hydrogen. They wrote and printed their own flyers. And each week they launch these flyers— and, soon, Bibles—back over the border into North Korea praying their own prayers and singing their own laments. “Rain down, you heavens, from above And let the skies pour down righteousness; Let the earth open, Let them bring forth salvation." (Is. 45:8a)
PRODUCED BY SEOUL USA
U.S. Office 14960 Woodcarver Road Colorado Springs, CO 80921 Phone: 719-481-4408 Seoul Office 236-1 Duck Seong Building 1st Floor Mapo-dong Mapo-Gu Seoul, Korea Phone: 02-2065-0703
How Do the Balloons Work? Fliers printed with the Gospel message are crumpled and bagged.
An alternative (and previously used) method for releasing the fliers/Bibles involves connecting strings to an actual timer.
Using wire, plastic tubing, and acidic liquid, a “timer” is set to release the fliers/Bibles once the balloon is over North Korean territory.
The balloons are released into the air as launchers hope and wait for them to travel towards North Korea.
40 foot balloons made with farm plastic are unfurled to prepare for filling.
Balloons are then filled with hydrogen which is cheaper than helium.
Balloons are tracked visually until out of site.
The launch team prays together asking God to use the fliers and Bibles to bring North Koreans to Christ.
Launchers load the bags of fliers into vehicles and drive to the launch site.
3 The balloon launch team is made up of staff and students from Seoul USA’s Underground University Program!
Where Do You Launch? Balloon launches take place in the countryside areas near the border between South Korea and North Korea where the wind current is favorable. Complex weather measurements are taken to ensure balloons float in the right direction and land where intended inside North Korea. Our launch team is “on call” ready to go out for a launch at any time: day or night, rain or shine.
Balloon launches have become one of Seoul USA’s most popular ministries to North Korea. With many individuals and organizations sponsoring balloons, we average around two launches per week.
How Often Do You Launch?
While it is virtually impossible to get pictures of our balloons/fliers opening up in North Korea, these pictures were taken by a South Korean man from inside North Korea at the Kaesong Industrial Zone. Taking photos like these can get you killed, making them extremely rare. These ones were taken with a keychain camera and made the evening news.
Each year, the message on our fliers is updated by our Underground University students. Drawn from their own personal growth, learning what it means to share the Gospel, students draft the text that will be read by their fellow North Koreans. Below are translated excerpts from this year’s fliers: You have been taught that religion is a superstition, like opium - a terrible and wicked thing to believe. We know that you will be labeled as a traitor. The North Korean government wants you to believe there is no God in this world. But there is, and he’s not a superstition. He is the one, true God and his name is Jesus.
This is the true love of God, prepared for you. If you, who are reading this letter, believe and declare Jesus as your lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved and become God’s child and live forever with him. Of course it’s true. That’s why Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jung-Il don’t want you to know it. If you did, they could no longer claim to be your gods.
Seoul USA used to use the orange balloons seen to the right for balloon launches (we still do, under special circumstances). The balloons themselves have the Gospel printed on them. Their use was discontinued because... 1. The newer farm plastic balloons can carry tens of thousands of fliers; many more than the orange ones, 2. The smaller, more numerous Gospel-printed fliers disperse over a much wider territory making them harder for NK soldiers to collect and dispose of, and
What Do You Launch? BIBLES
Bibles launched into North Korea weigh only 60 grams and measure 8x12cm. Prior to launch, personal messages are written in the Bibles by other Christians. The Bibles are then shrinkwrapped to protect from moisture damage and bagged in preparation for launch.
Despite their large similarities, the North and South Korean dialects are actually 40% divergent, which means South Korean Bible translations are not ideal for communicating the message of Scripture to North Koreans. These small Bibles provide the Gospel in the native North Korean dialect, creating an ideal opportunity for North Korean exiles to inherit a strong understanding of Scripture.
3. Reports were received that the larger and sturdier orange fliers were being used to wrap pipes and keep them warm. Offenders were suspected of being Christians and punished accordingly. The new, thinner, fliers are only useful for reading.
Don’t forget that there are many people around the world who have also confessed Jesus as their lord and prayed for this flyer to be sent to you. Now, you know the truth about God. He loves you and he wanted you to receive this flyer. I and many others are praying for you. Be victorious in our great God. We pray in Jesus's name, Amen.
hen Did Balloon Laun
Around ten years ago, Seoul USA’s VOM-Korea and VOM-US started a partnership to serve the persecuted church in North Korea. But back before VOM was, well, VOM, it was called “Jesus to the Communist World” and in 1970, a predecessor to our organization did Gospel balloon launching into North Korea. The pictures on this page were dug up from VOM-US’ archive. To the left is a letter between Col. Woon Seh Park - the man coordinating
launches - and Rev. Benjamin Moore.
To the right is a
picture showing the balloons and their payloads traversing a wall on their way to North Korea. Col. Park was later killed in a traffic accident, but his legacy continues with each balloon that takes flight over the DMZ (de-militarized zone serving as a buffer between North and South Korea).
How Do You Know North Koreans Are Reading the Fliers and Bibles? North Korean defectors regularly share with us about how they read the fliers launched from South Korea. In fact, we now know that the North Korean government warns citizens that fliers are laced with poison and are deadly to the touch.
Still, our best means of verification comes straight from the North Korean government. Their vigorous and consistent protesting with the South Korean government, along with their constant threats of retaliation against balloon launches, indicate the balloons are doing exactly what we want them to: putting the Gospel in the hands of North Koreans.
The pastor of one of our partner church congregations met a North Korean woman in China who had found one of our balloon flyers. She picked it up knowing that she was risking her life to do so. The NK government ordered its citizens not to pick up any fliers, saying they’re covered in poison. If one inadvertently lands in your yard or workplace, you must turn it in immediately to the government without reading it. When the pastor began to share the Gospel with her, she said, “Oh, I already know the Gospel. I read it on an orange balloon I picked up.”
How Can I Support Launches? go on a mission trip Korean churches and mission teams from around the world regularly help with balloon launches. While we can’t take individuals, groups of five can travel to South Korea and experience balloon launches first-hand. In Korea: contact Young-Hoon Lee at email@example.com for more info Elsewhere: contact Seoul USA at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info
write messages in nk bibles Our friends at VOM-Netherlands trace Korean letters on stickers which are then inserted into Bibles along with messages from North Korean Christians. Churches in South Korean can write directly in the Bibles! Contact Young-Hoon Lee at email@example.com for more info
Financial giving toward North Korean ministry efforts should be done as part of one’s whole life offering. In Korea: Hana Bank 176-910014-41104; Account Holder: VOM Korea Elsewhere: give a designated gift to North Korea by contacting VOM-US at 1-877-337-0302
give toward nk ministry efforts
Voice of the Martyrs Korea, a Ministry of Seoul USA Hebrews 13:3 - “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
Please Pray For… Underground
University (UU) a seminary training North Korean defectors to be called and set apart for missionary service wherever the North Korean church is found.
Underground Technology (UT), where North
Korean women receive training from local and global Christian leaders in the areas of leadership, study, life skills, character development, and Christian spirituality.
Balloon Launch Ministry as we send fliers
containing Underground University students’ testimonies as well as portions of the gospel via balloon to NK.
as we oversee John Maxwell’s leadership training program with North Korean missionaries.
True Voice of the Martyrs (TVOM), our daily
radio broadcast which disciples North Korean Christians via shortwave radio signal.
Bibles Unbound as we provide Bibles to people
living in countries hostile to God’s Word.
Seoul USA serves as a bridge between the Korean church (both North and South) and the church in the rest of the world. We bring the gifts of the Korean church to the church in the West and the gifts of the church in the West to the Korean church. We have a particular focus on mobilizing the church around the world to support the underground church of North Korea through our voice of the Martyrs Korea ministry. We are members of the International Christian Association, composed of independently operated Voice of the Martyrs ministries actively working to support persecuted Christians in 52 countries.
In Korea: If you would like to receive this newsletter or volunteer with Seoul USA or learn about our resources designed to prepare churches and Christians to face persecution, contact us at: 236-1 Duck Seong Building 1 Floor, Mapo-dong Mapo-Gu, Seoul Korea Telephone: 02-2065-0703 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: vomkorea.co.kr and seoulusa.co.kr
Proclaimer ministry, as we partner with Faith
Comes by Hearing to provide Proclaimer New Testaments for free to missionaries.
Martyrs Museum, where a display chronicling
the reality of North Korea underground churches and the history of martyrdom is held.
Providing and printing VOM’s bestsellers in
North and South Korean editions and North Korean dialect Bibles.
To support this work financially from Korea: Hana Bank: 176-910014-41104 Account Holder: VOM Korea
In the U.S. You can financially support this work with a designated donation to North Korea via Voice of the Martyrs U.S. at 877-337-0302. American churches or Christians seeking information on resources designed to prepare themselves to face persecution personally, please contact us at 719481-4408 or email@example.com or visit us on the web at www.seoulusa.org
Everything you've ever wanted to know about VOM Korea' balloon launching ministry