Video – The Biggest Problem Facing North Korean Defectors In South Korea

Pastor Eric Foley and Dr. Foley recently preached at the Saemoonan Church, the oldest Presbyterian church in South Korea.  He said that North Korean defectors receive money, housing, help with their health care, job training and educational assistance when they move to South Korea.  And yet North Korean defectors living in South Korea have the highest rate of death due to suicide in the world.  Pastor Foley said that the reason for this is that North Korean defectors are lonely.  In Isaiah 58:1-12 , God instructs people to “share their bread,” and “open their homes,” and this is different than giving away food or providing housing.  In North Korean ministry it is vitally important that we build relationships and share our own lives, instead of just providing assistance.


For other videos on North Korea, visit the Seoul USA video page!

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is the former International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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8 Responses to Video – The Biggest Problem Facing North Korean Defectors In South Korea

  1. Ted says:

    I don’t know enough about South Korean culture (past or present) to fully know, but I have heard South Korean culture has gone from an Eastern focus on “community” toward a more Western individualism/isolation. I know that in the U.S. the individualism has definitely become more of an isolation focus with technology and family bonds breaking apart.

    Scripture seems to have a tension (especially in the NT) of both appeals to the individual and community and God moves in both the individual and congregations/gatherings. I know for myself, when I moved back home to help take care of my Mom who was fighting cancer God placed on my heart the focus on hospitality. After my Mom passed I have opened my home for Bible studies and also to help students who attend my churches school of ministry. I can see the need of hospitality in time and quality moments of fellowship.

    This would make sense for refugees. Sometimes I wonder how refugees who relocate to the US (or just outside of the Korea) do in comparison to NK refugees in Korea. Nevertheless, I agree that hospitality and fellowship across the board could help many NK refugees.

    I know there is this ministry called I think ISI where their focus is to minister to foreign students attending university in the U.S. They get Christian families to connect with a foreign student who is isolated in a foreign nation and isolated on campus (limited mobility) to help them, but also open their home for holidays and other events. I don’t know if a similar ministry would work in South Korea with North Korean refugees.

    • Pastor Foley says:

      Great insights, Ted. You may find it interesting that our strategy is kind of an “inverse-ISI”: We work with the refugees to host the hosts! Though in the video Dr. Foley and I are preaching to SK Christians about God’s calling to them, by far the larger part of our ministry is discipling NKs, including NK defectors, to reach out and share with their SK counterparts. There are parts of NK culture, like its communitarian orientation, that are all but disappearing in SK. Who better than NK defector Christians to reinvigorate?

      • Ted says:

        wow. Very cool. I like the idea of North Koreans bringing back a part of Korean culture that is a blessing and Biblical like reaching out in community and the value of community to oppose the excess of Western individualism/isolation.

      • Pastor Foley says:

        Thanks, Ted. It reaches to the heart of what we do. It is a surprisingly controversial vision here in Korea, with North Korean defectors themselves fearful to embrace it out of concern of being excluded from South Korea’s culture of success. It requires that we remind the Korean church of (and in) the voice of its own martyrs, who advocated such a vision. It means that unification could induce a cultural genocide (i.e., a loss of North Korean culture and virtue through absorption by the South). Which means time may be short, so we’d better get busy…

  2. Glad to see you preach in a robe!

    • Pastor Foley says:

      Thanks! I actually own the world’s coolest robe, but I haven’t had opportunity to use it in years. Isn’t quite practicable in many of the places I preach ‘n’ teach. But I am always cathedral ready!

  3. Pingback: One Of The Best Books On Suffering And Persecution As Essential Parts Of The Christian Life | Do the Word

  4. Pingback: Congratulations to Ji Seong Ho, but the biggest North Korean heroes are those who cross the border in the other direction | Do the Word

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