New Coronavirus outbreak in NE China puts NK sex-trafficked women at risk of starvation

The biggest worry today for North Korean women in Northeast China is not Coronavirus but starvation.

A new outbreak of Coronavirus in Northeast China’s Jilin Province has led authorities there to restrict travel and institute additional control measures. The new measures make it nearly impossible for North Korean sex-trafficked women there to feed their families.

Now even in the smallest markets and towns, in order to purchase food, ID cards are required. Of course the North Korean women don’t have ID cards because they were sex-trafficked to China illegally.

North Korean women living alone there are especially at risk. Some of the women’s husbands have died or abandoned them, or they have escaped abusive situations. Since ID cards are now required for food purchase, they cannot buy food to eat. They have no relatives who are legally able to purchase food for them. If they go to the market without ID cards, they can be reported and sent back to North Korea, where they will be severely punished.

By the grace of God, Voice of the Martyrs Korea anticipated the possible lockdown and has so far purchased a 7-month supply of food for 13 North Korean women and their families. But the number of North Korean women in the area is far greater. There are hundreds of sex-trafficked North Korean women in Jilin Province. They are spread all over the countryside, in very isolated areas. They have no one to turn to for help even when times are good. Now, under these lockdown conditions, they need all the prayers and assistance we can offer.

North Korean women are sold to impoverished Chinese men living in poor conditions. Because they are not living in China legally and the men who bought them are afraid they may be returned to North Korea if caught, these women are often hidden completely from public view. They are especially susceptible to the Coronavirus because they do not receive medical care or protection. That is why Voice of the Martyrs Korea also sent masks, medicine, and other supplies to the women in the area, including audio Bibles. Food and masks and medicine are helpful for their health, but only the word of God can bring them hope. We know the North Korean sex-trafficked women really appreciate the food and supplies we are sending, but it is always the audio Bibles that they thank us for specifically.

Voice of the Martyrs Korea is raising funds to purchase food and other supplies to reach additional North Korean sex-trafficked women in Northeast China. 13 families is just a drop in the bucket. We need to do more, as quickly as possible. Last time we sent aid, we were able to get it in the day before deliveries were stopped. We need to pray that deliveries remain possible in this area, and that we can reach as many of these North Korean sex-trafficked women as possible, providing what is needed for their physical and spiritual health.

150 USD can provide the basic staples needed for one of these families to feed itself for the next seven months.

Whatever funds are raised in this emergency appeal, we will use to provide food, care items, and Christian discipleship resources for the North Korean sex-trafficked women in Northeast China and their families.

VOMK supporters can make a donation to support these North Korean sex-trafficked women. Please be sure to indicate “COVID” on your donation. We are hoping to have all of the donations for this emergency project in hand by May 31.

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Five testimonies from North Koreans who have received Bibles during this time of Coronavirus

It’s hard to lock down an underground church. Not even authorities hostile to the gospel plus a virus can accomplish that.

Here are five testimonies from North Koreans who have received audio Bibles and ministry packs from our underground field team members during the time of Coronavirus. None of the recipients were previously Christian. None are defectors; in fact, none plan to defect. (VOMK never aids nor encourages defection.) In every case (as is always true with VOMK), distribution is done person-to-person, rather than through some kind of system of mass distribution.

What I find most moving in these testimonies from current NK citizens are the raw expressions of prayer and devotion from them as new believers in Christ. Their only discipleship has been listening to the Bible, and yet in many ways they already understand more than others whose discipleship happens through humans with specially designed curriculum. #4, below, is the perfect example of that. This new North Korean Christian writes, “It looks like everything in my life is transforming into a new creation!”

May these testimonies refresh you and remind all of us that God never slumbers nor sleeps, not even during the time of Coronavirus.

  1. “Who can send his only son to save other people? For mere human beings, this is a very difficult concept that God sent his only Son Jesus to save us. I have finally found the amazing news. I have been educated and thought it was accidental and natural that the earth began to form and that monkeys became humans. As I was listening to the audio Bible, I have received this amazing news that God has saved the world through his suffering. God please forgive us, human beings, who distressed you. We will give our lives in return for God’s passionate love.”
  2. “When I had lived a comfortable, happy life, I was not able to fully grasp the full heart of God the Father. But, I have finally come to understand his heart through suffering and hardship. Dear God, please give your comfort to our hearts. We are truly thankful for your grace and love through this gift [ministry pack and audio Bible]. Our heart to trust, rely on, and follow you will never change.”
  3. “We have come to [worksite name omitted] where we are [work type omitted]. We are locked up all day here. We cannot even go out. We have met good leaders here that have given us audio Bibles. When we were given [the audio Bibles], we were earnestly requested to listen to it secretly only at nighttime in order to avoid the eyes of our state security comrades. We are encouraged to work throughout difficult nights as we are listening to the stories and songs. Thank you for giving [the ministry packs]. We are in an area where there is nothing to see or hear. We are sending our gratitude on behalf of all NKs in my group. We will keep these precious gifts for sure.”
  4. “Who could send God’s words to such people like us? We are writing letters to good people of God who risk their lives to send us this audio Bible. The first word that is penetrating my heart is that Jesus came down to earth to be crucified and resurrected and ascended and now is in heaven. I have come to have this question: What would our lives be without the presence of God? It looks like everything in my life is transforming into a new creation. Thank you for those who are sending the ‘new world’.”
  5. “We give thanks to those who are sending God’s love in this pandemic. We are also thankful for all gifts [ministry packs]. Thank you for awakening us and understanding our situation. Every time we listen to the stories, we feel peaceful and too good.”


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Four years after his martyrdom, Pastor Han continues to testify

April 30, 2020 marks the fourth anniversary of the martyrdom of our dear brother and partner, Pastor Han Chung Ryeol. Pastor Han was the Korean Chinese pastor stabbed to death through his skull and heart in Changbai, China in 2016. But the story of Pastor Han’s ministry and death has continued to captivate Christians worldwide.

In the last year alone, Pastor Han’s story has been retold in a short film (in Korean, English, Russian, Chinese, and many other languages) that has been viewed by more than 100,000 church congregations worldwide; that same film has been watched by more than 400,000 viewers on YouTube; Pastor Han’s story was added to a new international edition of the 450 year old Foxe’s Book of Martyrs by our sister mission, Voice of the Martyrs US; and his story will be retold again this fall in an updated version of the international bestseller, Jesus Freaks. In many ways he has impacted more people for Christ after his death than before it.

Pastor Han was the pastor of Changbai Church and a longtime partner of Voice of the Martyrs Korea in providing discipleship, evangelism, and living necessities to the North Koreans who would cross the border into Changbai. He was found dead of multiple stab wounds in his car. Chinese authorities have not closed the case, but no information has been released by them about the motive or the killers since the time of his death.

Often governments just want situations like this to disappear. But in the case of Pastor Han, the story of his faithful life is continuing to appear in more and more countries around the world. Dr. Foley and I are especially excited that the film about Pastor Han has been shared with persecuted Christians in more than 70 countries. While Pastor Han would probably be embarrassed by all of the publicity, I am sure that he would be thankful that his story is able to continue to encourage the suffering church worldwide.

Voice of the Martyrs Korea partnered with our sister mission Voice of the Martyrs US and award-winning producer John Grooters on the film about Pastor Han, which was released in Korean, English, Russian, Chinese, and multiple other languages last fall. The film tells the story of one of the disciples of Pastor Han Chung-Ryeol, and about him carrying on the work of sharing the gospel when he hears that Pastor Han has been killed. Pastor Han shared his faith with at least 1,000 North Koreans before his death.

Voice of the Martyrs Korea released the Korean version of the film, an extended “director’s cut” which contains Korean dialogue and additional scenes not included in the English version. You can learn more at

Pastor Han was our long-time friend and ministry partner. North Korea tried to silence him. China seems to hope his memory will fade away. But 1 John 2:17 says, “The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” So we believe that God is not only keeping alive but also amplifying the witness made by Pastor Han and his North Korean disciples, so that it is reaching Christians all over the world.

I encourage you to show the video during your worship services this week, whether you will be worshiping online or in person. But I also encourage you to share the video with your friends and families. The work Pastor Han began still continues four years after his death. It continues not only in North Korea and China, but now around the world. It can inspire us here in these challenging days to serve Christ faithfully, no matter the cost.

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