Voice of the Martyrs Korea (VOMK) has now become a target for an investigation, after relations between the North and the South deteriorated in early June over balloons launched by North Korean defector groups.
Every year, in partnership with other VOM offices, including Australia, Voice of the Martyrs Korea has sent Bibles into North Korea by balloon and by sea.
Recently, after political threats from North Korea and presidential desire to keep the peace, South Korean authorities banned any activities connected with cross-border balloon or sea bottle launches.
“A South Korean governor called for a formal police investigation into all four of the groups that do launching. Three of them do political launching, and Voice of the Martyrs Korea is the only one that does Bible launching,” said Pastor Foley, CEO of VOMK.
“The government is pretending that we haven’t had this great mutual cooperative relationship for 15 years. Suddenly, balloon launching has become dangerous and balloon launchers [are] criminals, and we are considered crazy,” he added.
In addition to the launch investigation, Pastor Foley said that police have indicated they will investigate the organisation to see if it has violated its NGO permit.
“From the beginning, even when we filed our NGO application, we made clear that our most important purpose as an organisation is to get Bibles into nations where Christianity is restricted. We do this in partnership with the underground Christians in those nations,” said Pastor Foley.
He added, “Since 2005, we have sent an average of 40,000 Bibles per year into North Korea, in printed and electronic form, using balloons and many other methods. The Bible we use is the one based on the translation published by the North Korean government. We also broadcast the Bible into North Korea by radio. We have never sent a single political flyer into North Korea, only Bibles and Bible study materials. This is what our underground Christian partners in North Korea request.”
Pastor Foley said that Voice of the Martyrs Korea is eager to cooperate fully with the police investigation. He said he hopes the investigation can restore what he says is the “spirit of partnership we have experienced with government authorities at all levels” since the organisation began in 2003.
Pastor Foley said, “VOMK makes the launches not in an effort to evangelise North Koreans but to help Christians already in the country,” adding “we can’t ever believe that standing with underground Christians won’t cost us something.”
Two other balloon launching NGOs have already been raided (offices and homes) by the police. Pastor Foley says, “Our office has been under surveillance 24 hours a day. As I look out the window now, I can see the police who are stationed to watch this place 24/7.”
“My concern has not been getting arrested. We’ve had 36 martyrs from Voice of the Martyrs Korea since we began, and my wife and I never felt like we could exempt ourselves from that.”
“Prayer is essential to their ongoing efforts,” he added.
Please continue to keep Pastor Foley and his team in your prayers and pray for the work they do to bring God’s light into one of the darkest places in the world – North Korea.