Our team at one of our discipleship bases near the border welcomed a North Korean woman this week who was visiting China in search of work. As with most North Koreans in China, the woman was not defecting but rather trying to find honest labor which would enable her bring back money and food to her family in North Korea. In such cases we do discipleship training before and after the person does their day’s work. (In other words, a hardcore Seoul USA principle is that we don’t pay people to get discipled.)
What surprised us was the woman’s offhand comment about balloon flyers landing in North Korea. She does not know that we do balloon launches (since we do not let the left hand know what the right hand is doing–another Seoul USA principle), so she just shared this remark as she was talking about how people survive these days in North Korea given the shortage of natural resources:
The area around the DMZ is white like snow because of the flyers [from balloons]. People go there to harvest them to burn them for fuel in their homes. But then they read them, and they keep reading them. So they are very important. I hope they keep sending them.
The woman’s comment illustrates the importance of word of mouth in North Korea: The woman lives in a province at some distance from the DMZ; yet, she not only knew about the flyers, she knew what they contained.
Her fellow citizens seek out the flyers to fuel their homes, but by the grace of God, the flyers actually end up setting their hearts ablaze.