Much has been reported about North Koreans watching Korean dramas inside North Korea and how these dramas inspire them to defect to South Korea or desire a more prosperous material life. But NGO Voice of the Martyrs Korea is reporting that North Koreans watching these and other videos are desiring a more spiritual life also. It is a phenomenon Voice of the Martyrs Korea board chair Hyun Sook Foley calls “Movie Discipleship.”
“Movie disciples are North Koreans who begin to believe in and pray to God because of scenes they see in secular movies and dramas that mention God or Christian themes or which show church buildings or Bibles,” Voice of the Martyrs Korea board chair Hyun Sook Foley explains. “Often, these movies are not explicitly Christian and the religion featured in them is an afterthought to most viewers. But for North Koreans, the references to religion are becoming more and more of interest.”
According to Foley, even Indian “Bollywood” movies are stirring North Koreans’ hunger for God.
“Indian movies and South Korean dramas sometimes show church buildings, crosses, and pictures of Jesus,” Foley explains. “A character might even say something like, ‘I pray to God.’ Since North Koreans have never seen these things before, they often ask our contacts, who are underground Christians, about them. This opens the door to discipleship.”
Voice of the Martyrs Korea, Foley’s organization, has been smuggling Christian materials into North Korea for years, including popular Christian movies with high production values.
“Even older movies like ‘The Ten Commandments’ or ‘Ben Hur’ are extremely popular with North Koreans. A few years ago we made an animated story of the life of Jesus called ‘He Lived Among Us’, which placed special emphasis on the persecution he faced. Now, North Koreans are ‘re-discovering’ these movies, as a spiritual hunger spreads. They’re looking for something more than economic success.”
Animated story of the life of Jesus 「He Lived Among Us」
“Audiences around the world are watching Tortured for Christ just because it’s a well-made film with a powerful message, but we think North Koreans will be especially receptive to the movie’s message,” says Foley. “North Koreans are wrongly taught that Christian pastors made Communists suffer. But this movie shows the truth. It shows Christians suffering under Communists but still praying for them and loving them.”
Foley hopes South Korean ministries will send more dramas than sermons to North Korea, so that “movie discipleship” can continue to grow. She also encourages South Korean Christians to watch Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s new “Tortured for Christ” movie as well, saying that she expects it will produce a “movie discipleship” of its own among South Koreans Christians as well. Voice of the Martyrs Korea held the South Korean debut last night to a full house of more than 100 theatre goers at its Jeongneung event hall. A second free showing will happen on April 13 at 3PM at the same location. Pre-registration is required by calling the Voice of the Martyrs Korea office at 02-2065-0703. The movie is also available to be shown at churches. Call Voice of the Martyrs Korea for more information.
movie 「Tortured for Christ」
This month Voice of the Martyrs Korea also begin to smuggle into North Korea the new movie Tortured for Christ, the story of Romanian pastor and VOM founder Richard Wurmbrand, who remains faithful to God despite 14 years of torture in a Communist prison. The movie, filmed in Romania using well-known actors and a popular American producer/director of Christian movies, has already been well-received in the US, Australia, and Europe. Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s Korean language version also debuts in South Korea this month.