PUBLIC STATEMENT FROM VOICE OF THE MARTYRS KOREA RE: OUR PEACEFUL REFUSAL TO ACCEPT A BALLOON LAUNCHING BAN UNDER KOREA’S NATIONAL SECURITY LAW

2015-08-23_150-0087 Pastor Foley Talking With Riot PoliceNeighbors, media, and public officials have asked Voice of the Martyrs Korea why we are peacefully refusing to accept the government’s present ban on balloon launching to North Korea and instead continuing to try to head out for balloon launches from our office each evening even though we are prevented from doing so by the Mapo Police Department. In response to these inquiries, we offer with the following statement.

First, we would like to express our sincere appreciation to the men and women of the Mapo Police Department, especially Mapo police chief Park Chang Ho. Chief Park and his officers continue to treat us with courtesy and respect. Even though our different responsibilities have brought us into conflict with each other at present, we are able to work together in peaceful opposition in a way that we believe can and should be a model for other police departments and NGOs doing North Korea work—especially other balloon launchers, who through their antagonistic and immature approaches have often given quiet and peaceful balloon launchers like Voice of the Martyrs Korea an undeservedly bad name.

Second, we would like to apologize to our neighbors in Mapo who may presently be inconvenienced by the police presence that surrounds our office day and night. We continue to keep the police fully apprised of our actions and intentions regarding balloon launching, and we have requested that they report about our cooperation and non-violent resistance to the government officials who are ordering their presence here. We hope these government officials will agree to reduce the police presence to the minimal amount necessary to enforce their goals.

2015-08-23_18-150-0087 Police Surrounding Our Balloon Storage RoomThird, we would like to assure the citizens of South and North Korea that their security has always been the highest concern in our balloon launching efforts. To those in the south, we want you to know that this is why we always inform police of our launches but why we never inform the media. It is why we launch away from populated areas, and only at night. It is why we use expensive balloon technology (including GPS, precise mathematical calculations, and extensive safety procedures) to ensure that all of our balloons land where intended. To those in the north, we want you to know that the only thing we launch is Bibles, not anti-North Korean leaflets. The Bible text we use is the one published and authorized by the North Korean government itself, with only the slightest alterations for editing. It is the Bible text which the North Korean government proudly writes about in its own human rights report. It is the Bible text which the North Korean government claims that all North Korean citizens are entitled to read, as guaranteed under the freedom of religion in the North Korean constitution.

Finally, as to the reason why we would seek to continue to launch balloons even during this tense period between the governments of South and North Korea, we offer the following explanation. Voice of the Martyrs Korea believes that the security of North and South Korean citizens has never been endangered by our Christian ministry including Bible distribution, work which has continued uninterrupted, quietly, peacefully, and as lawfully as possible using a wide variety of methods (including balloon launching) for the past fifteen years. Instead, Voice of the Martyrs Korea believes that the security of North and South Korea is continually and seriously endangered by the system embraced by both governments for nearly 70 years that has attempted unsuccessfully to achieve and maintain security through ever-escalating shows of force. This has resulted in ever-decreasing security, further dividing Koreans in the north and south from each other and causing them to become complete strangers. We have permitted ourselves to become Koreans who must rely entirely on our respective governments to dictate how, when, and why we may interact with each other.

Even today, powerful men in the north and south continue to insist that the use of force and threats of force are necessary to ensure happiness and stability on our peninsula. It is a dangerous experiment which for 70 years has continually returned us to the brink of war. Having once again returned us to the brink of war due to their deep trust of force, these powerful men in both the north and south now say to Voice of the Martyrs Korea, “You are behaving dangerously by refusing to stop your work in order to allow us to continue behaving dangerously!” It is like living in the home of drunken parents, who every few weeks brawl, curse, and shout at each other, and then shout at their children who are quietly doing homework, “Stop your dangerous work! You are making our fighting worse!”

2015-08-23_18-150-0087 Ariel View of Police Blocking Our VanAt some point the children must simply continue to do their homework. This is what we have chosen to do for 15 years, and what we will continue to do each day. In this we follow the footsteps of the great Korean independence leader Cho Man Sik who warned that a Korea built on any sword would forever have many bloody swords plunged through its own heart. He died rather than consenting to Korea being cut in half by the swords of powerful men. We also follow in the hopeful footsteps of the ancient Korean sage Yulgok Yi I who taught that “a good person, through self-transformation, could transform the entire cosmic order.” Here on the brink of war we call on good Koreans everywhere—from the north, south, east, and west, and from all religions, nations, and political parties—to engage in self-transformation, renouncing our trust in the swords and words of powerful men which today further divide good Koreans. We encourage good Koreans everywhere not to rely on so-called “peace talks” which, because they are based on the continuing trust of force to compel peace, can only eventually lead us back to the brink of war again and again and again.

Instead, we encourage all Koreans to act according to the best of their consciences and engage daily in peaceful, lawful, and simple acts that unite ordinary Koreans in love as best we know how. As a Christian ministry, one of the many ways we do this is by distributing Bibles because the Bible teaches us that all people are valuable and deserve to eat and live in peace not because of their loyalty to a particular government but because God created each one of us in his image. We do not force anyone to accept our message or our Bibles, but we follow in the footsteps of Jesus who commands us to share this message with all people at all times, speaking truth to powerful men and nations even in the moments when they may be drunk with their trust in force. We willingly obey their laws but refuse to let our hearts, minds, imaginations, or actions be constrained by their swords.

In conclusion, we will seek to continue our fifteen year work of Christian ministry without interruption, including our efforts to distribute Bibles by balloon. Powerful men may stop us today, but the word of God will endure forever.

The Rev. Dr. Eric P. Foley   

CEO, Voice of the Martyrs

 

Dr. Hyun Sook Foley

President, Voice of the Martyrs

 

For further information in English please contact the Rev. Tim Dillmuth at 02-2065-0703 or tdillmuth@vomkorea.kr.

For further information in Korean please contact Miss Jin Ju Won at 02-2065-0703 or jjin@vomkorea.kr.

Posted in Balloon Launching, Korean Christianity, North Korea, Press Release | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

North Korea’s State Media Condemns Our Voice of The Martyrs Balloon Launches By Name

North Korea’s state media (KCNA) released a statement condemning us by name (“Voice of Martyr”) for our accurate and “tricky” balloon launches into North Korea this year. They even noted the dates of our launches and the locations where our Bibles landed, which we of course already knew because of our use of GPS technology. KCNA references our use of “e-media,” noting that we send the Bible in both printed and electronic forms (with the electronic forms courtesy of our sister VOM mission, SDOK in the Netherlands).

The KCNA report follows.

(Translation note: When NK uses the term “Riff-raffs” they are typically referring to North Korean defectors–in this case, our Underground University and Underground Technology students who are proud members of our organization and balloon launch ministry.)

Pyongyang, August 14 (KCNA) — The south Korean puppet forces have reached an extreme phase in their leaflet-scattering operations against the DPRK.

Riff-raffs affiliated to the Voice of Martyr, a puppet die-hard conservative organization in south Korea, scattered by use of balloons anti-DPRK leaflets over areas in the DPRK from the area of Hapsu-ri in Jung-myon of Ryonchon County, Kyonggi Province on July 24.
Similar operations were conducted by other south Korean die-hard conservative bodies in the area of Aegibong, Jogang-ri, Wolgot-myon in Kimpho City, Kyonggi Province on July 27 and in the area of Rodongdangsa, Jung-ri, Cholwon County of south Korean Kangwon Province on July 31.

Entering August, the puppet forces have got zealous in scattering anti-DPRK leaflets and various kinds of undesirable e-media as evidenced by their scattering operations on August 5, 6 and 7. They conducted 3 to 5 operations in June and 9 operations in July.
They are getting trickier in fixing time and locations for their scattering operations against the DPRK.

In view of this critical situation, the frontline combined units of the Korean People’s Army released an open statement on August 14.

What is more serious is that the die-hard conservative bodies have conducted anti-DPRK leaflet-scattering operations with the tacit connivance of the south Korean regime and military, the statement said, and went on:

The south Korean puppet joint chiefs of staff named the anti-DPRK leaflet scattering operations of the non-governmental reactionary organizations “balloon operations”, gave an “order” to all frontline guard units and artillery units to “tighten vigilance against the north” and “get ready to open fire.”

The operations for massively scattering anti-DPRK leaflets and undesirable e-media that have spilt over to the whole area along the military demarcation line are an open declaration of a war against the DPRK.

If one side mobilizes forces while conducting a psychological warfare against its opponent, that just leads to a total war.

Now that such large-scale joint military drills as Ulji Freedom Guardian are close at hand, the Park Geun Hye group has launched such a large-scale psychological warfare as leaflet-scattering operations. This clearly proves that the north-south relations have been plunged into the state of a war, in actuality.

The puppet forces should not forget even a moment that the whole of south Korea might turn into a sea of fire due to the foolhardy leaflet scattering operations.

There is a limit to the patience of the frontline soldiers of the KPA.

Posted in Announcements, Balloon Launching, North Korea, persecution | Tagged , | 1 Comment

No Distinction Between The Persecuted Church And The Free Church – We Are All Persecuted

the_pastors_wife_sabina_wurmbrand-e1330315786813Practically speaking, we in the West have quite a bit to learn from our brothers and sisters who have remained faithful in the midst of extreme persecution and suffering.  Their steady faithfulness to follow God and disciple their families should provide us with a model for our own lives.

But when we talk about these brothers and sisters, we must understand that we are all a part of the same church.  There is no distinction between the persecuted church and the free church.

Mark Dever, Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church reminds us that we are united by saying,

The church is a people, not a place or a statistic.  It’s a body, united into him who is the head.  It’s a family, joined together by adoption through Christ. (What is a Healthy Church, 38)

It is reminiscent of the last stanza of the Nicene Creed, which was penned 1600 years earlier.  It says,

And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

To be sure, there are distinctions worth noting between Individual churches.  Most of the NT was written to individual churches that were quite different:  the church at Ephesus, the church at Corinth, the church at Galatia, etc.   Some of these churches had things they needed to improve upon and some of these church were more of a model for other churches.  The same is still true today.

But as we are reminded through the Nicene Creed, Christ’s church is one church!  In the new heaven and the new earth, we won’t be divided into Methodist/Presbyterian, or Pentecostal/Baptist or underground/free.

In fact this is how Subina Wurmbrand herself considered the underground church that she was a part of for twelve years.  She said,

You won’t find its title in directories, or its building in the cities of Eastern Europe.  It has no cathedrals. Its priests are in worn working clothes. They have no theological training. They know little of sectarian squabbles.  The Underground Church has no name even behind the Iron Curtain. Only after we reached the West did I come to know that we were referred to by this title among the few people abroad who knew what we were doing. If I’d been asked earlier, “Have you an Underground Church in Romania?” I wouldn’t have understood the questions. We simply did our Christian duty. We paid no heed to Communist laws. And we did not need to give our attitude a name. (The Pastors Wife, Digital Copy, 72%)

The bottom-line is that Christians in Iran, Nigeria and North Korea are a part of the same church as Christians in Canada, Finland and the U.K.  There is no distinction, as we often make, of church members who are persecuted and those who are not.  Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:12, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  Essentially, we are all the persecuted church!

Glenn Penner, the late C.E.O. of VOM Canada said,

We are all the Persecuted Church and our calling is to reach out and minister to those who are suffering violence and loss for Christ’s sake since we are one Family. If we are not suffering together, we are standing together with those who are suffering (Hebrews 10:32-34).

Posted in North Korea, persecution | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments