American Missionary Facing Charges for Sending Scripture into North Korea

Picture obtained from Facebook

Dr. Eric Foley, the CEO of Voice of the Martyrs Korea (VOMK), is facing criminal charges in South Korea for sending Christian scripture into North Korea through “balloon launches.”

South Korean police began cracking down on balloon launches this summer following threats from North Korea. North Korea has been angered by the “balloon launches” because they bring Christian Scripture to hungry people who have never heard the Gospel message.

North Korea sees the Bible as a direct threat to their national security and have threatened South Korea to stop Christians from launching balloons carrying Scriptures from the south. North Korea has threatened that South Korea will “pay a dear price” if the launches are not stopped.

BTJ has worked together with Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) in the USA to smuggle Scriptures into North Korea by other methods. On one visit to their headquarters in Bartlesville OK, a few years ago, several faxes were shown that came in from the North Korean government. North Korea sent faxes to VOM making extreme threats if they did not stop supporting Bibles to North Korea.

In many ways, South Korea is primarily a Christian country, but in June of this year, Rev. Eric was told that he would be charged for launching balloons into North Korea. Foley told Mission Network News (MNN), that he would be likely charged for breaking three laws, “One is for breaking a law that regulates commerce between North and South Korea, another is for threatening national security, and the third pertains to the use of high-pressure gas.”

Picture obtained from Facebook

Balloon launches have been used by many different mission groups over the years in both China and South Korea. Missionaries will often monitor the weather and wait for the winds to be just right. They then drive a truck with hydrogen or helium tanks, 12-meter large capacity balloons, and light paper copies of Scriptures or USB drives/SD cards towards the North Korean border. This is usually done at night or when the visibility is low to avoid detection. The balloons are then filled with hydrogen or helium and released with hopes of eventually landing in North Korea and being found by the North Korean people in the morning when the sun comes up.

Balloon drops have been going on since the Korean war; both North Korea and South Korea used balloon drops to spread their propaganda. South Korea has sent pamphlets across the border using balloons and also sent candy, lighters, cigarettes, and pornography. Also, USB, SD/microSD cards have even been sent with Wikipedia downloads in the Korean language.

Unfortunately, it seems that South Korea is giving in to the pressure from the North and Rev. Eric Foley is one of those that South Korea wants to use as an example. “For 15 years, we’ve had a good relationship with the authorities,” Eric said in a report to MNN. “We’ve had police, military, even the intelligence services present at all of our launches. This year in a couple of launches, I asked the police, ‘is this illegal?’ And the police responded, ‘well, no, you just can’t do it here in this location,” but they did not specifically state that it would be illegal in another location.

VOM is asking for prayer, that in their operation “God is glorified.”

We stand with them in this prayer.

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