Today, balloon launches became a crime in South Korea. What now?

Today, balloon launches became a crime in South Korea. What now?

Authorities in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea (the area where most balloon launches happen) announced new restrictions on balloon launching today, effectively criminalizing and heavily fining not only launching but even the transport of materials for launch.

Here are a few notes from Gyeonggi Province Deputy Governor Lee’s announcement today:

Gyeonggi province Deputy Governor Lee has issued an entry ban on those who plan to fly leaflets over the border. He says launchers will be arrested if spotted.

The Deputy governor briefing made 3 points:

1. Designating certain areas of the province as “danger zones” and prohibiting entry of launchers into those areas.

2. Preemptively stopping the movements of vehicles and other balloon launch preparation actions.

3. Using Gyeonggi province’s special judicial police force to investigate, control, report these activities.

The argument given in the briefing was that NK has warned of balloon launches from the border area as a provocation. The Deputy Governor says “leafleting threatens the safety of residents so we ban the entry of leafletters entering the region. They will be arrested on site if spotted by the local government special police force.”

“The current 「Basic Act on Disaster and Safety Management」 Article 41 (Establishment of Hazardous Areas), Article 43 (Traffic Restriction, etc.) and Article 46 (Emergency Measures by the Metropolitan City/Do Governor) refer to the city’s provincial governor’s life and safety responsibilities. If necessary, it is possible to instruct emergency measures such as setting up hazardous areas and restricting traffic.”

Transport of gas for launching will also result in a fine or arrest.

The city plans to block the entrance to the “danger zones” with the cooperation of the police, etc., and if launchers attempt to enter the area, it will “take measures through the Special Judicial Police Corps in Gyeonggi-do, etc.,”

Materials sent to North Korea without prior notice to the authorities are regarded as illegal advertisements, and fines will be imposed according to the outdoor advertisement law.

Our VOMK response to the announcement follows.

Over the past 15 years, the respectful cooperation between Voice of the Martyrs Korea and Korean police, military, and intelligence services has served as an admirable international model for how the freedoms of speech and religion, the protection of property and public safety, and the advancement of political and economic peace and prosperity can all be safeguarded and jointly fostered, even during the most dangerous moments of inter-Korean tension and conflict.

We are disappointed that authorities have chosen to suddenly and unilaterally disregard this proven model of effective cooperation. We are grieved that they have criminalized even the most responsible and cooperative exercise of long-cherished rights as an inherent, imminent threat to peace and prosperity.

We call on all Korean authorities to return to their long-demonstrated commitment to cooperative, responsible, respectful dialogue among all stakeholders—listening not only to state actors but also NGOs and citizens who have acted responsibly for many years.  We believe this remains the only truly safe path forward. Cooperative, respectful preservation of the full range of rights has served us all well over the past 15 years, even during the times of greatest national danger. It has ensured that we can all make progress in all of the areas of importance to all of us, even in the midst of the most threatening rhetoric and actions.

Our commitment at Voice of the Martyrs Korea remains unchanged: We will continue to support all Korean Christians, both North and South, as they follow Christ. This is what our suffering Christian brothers and sisters in North Korea request, and it is what Christ commands.

There are times when governments criminalize the actions we as Christians are called to undertake. In such times, we remain subject to the governing authorities. This means that we will continue to do what God calls us to do, and we will willingly and joyfully suffer whatever penalty the authorities lay upon us as the price for that faithfulness. 

Additional information:

Voice of the Martyrs Korea has continuously pioneered numerous innovations to make balloon launches safe for all Koreans North and South, including:

–the use exclusively of non-flammable helium gas;

–predictive computer modeling and GPS tracking, to ensure that balloons are only launched when it is certain they will reach their intended destinations in North Korea;

–high-altitude balloons, which cross into North Korea well above the range of ground artillery;

–environmentally-friendly materials and clean-up practices; and, most of all,

–a cooperative arrangement with all enforcement authorities to ensure that the goals of all stakeholders may be achieved as far as possible.

We have launched without negative impact to life or property during far more contentious periods in North/South relations. Positively, in the past 15 years, the percentage of North Korean citizens who have seen a Bible with their own eyes has increased from essentially 0% to nearly 8%, according to the North Korean Human Rights Database.

We have never at any time sent any form of political message or propaganda but only the Chosun Bibles published by the North Korean government and protected under the North Korean constitution’s freedom of religion for all North Korean citizens.

All of our North Korean ministry projects are undertaken at the request and advice of underground North Korean Christians.


  1. Deana Brown

    Says June 12, 2020 at pm 9:59

    I was saddened to read about your balloon launchings becoming an illegal activity. I thought your response was very well written and strong. I will continue to pray. Thank you for your courage to listen to the Lord and walk wisely.
    Deana Brown

    • Pastor Tim

      Says June 16, 2020 at pm 12:01

      Thanks for your comment and prayer Deana! The times are certainly troubling, but please pray for our faithfulness in the midst of it. God Bless ~ Pastor Tim

  2. Katy P

    Says June 12, 2020 at pm 10:08

    May God give you wisdom and discernment on how this is done, so that the work may continue. Thank you for all you do, especially, in reaching our brothers and sisters (both current and future) in North Korea and for your prayerful consideration of the circumstances.

    • Pastor Tim

      Says June 16, 2020 at pm 12:01

      Thank you Katy!

  3. Delbert Wayne Blackketter

    Says June 12, 2020 at pm 11:29


    Thank you for your well-stated commitment declaration. Thank you for having a history of good works, with feedback from North Korean Christians.

    • Pastor Tim

      Says June 16, 2020 at am 11:58

      Yes – we are standing together with the NK underground church. They are often the ones who are forgotten in government treaties/laws/etc. God Bless ~ Pastor Tim

  4. Carolyn McElfatrick

    Says June 12, 2020 at pm 11:49

    Praying for your decision making, your work, your protection, and that all of this will ultimately bring glory to God.

    • Pastor Tim

      Says June 16, 2020 at am 11:56

      Amen! James 1:5 – If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

      • Jody McRoberts

        Says June 17, 2020 at pm 12:26

        Wow! This is a big change. I am praying that you will have wisdom how to respond to this new law that bans balloon launches. The Holy Spirit will be baseball to give you wisdom.

        thank you for your love for the people of Korea! I am keeping all of you in prayer. ?❤️?

        • Pastor Tim

          Says June 17, 2020 at pm 2:53

          Thanks Jody . . . things have changed quickly! And everything is still changing on a daily basis. We will continue writing on it . . . in fact Pastor Foley is writing a new piece now that should be on the blog next week. We value you and Mike’s prayers! God Bless ~ Pastor Tim

  5. Ariel Lohberger

    Says June 13, 2020 at pm 8:39

    I am not surprised that this prohibition has happened. Satan has certainly prompted this, for he hates what you have been doing for the Lord. Continued prayers for your ministry; for a conscience among high officials to respond positively to the wise words of your statement; and most of all for the advancement of the kingdom of God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son, and the Holy Spirit.

    • Pastor Tim

      Says June 16, 2020 at am 11:55

      Thanks Ariel! Your long-time prayers and partnership are so important to us! It is great to know the body of Christ are praying for us from all over the world!

  6. Anita Frederiksen

    Says June 14, 2020 at am 3:22

    Rather than going to prison or paying fines for using a METHOD which now has been forbidden,
    pray for the Lord to show you another way to achieve the goal of getting THE Word to our brothers and sisters across the border.

    • Pastor Tim

      Says June 16, 2020 at am 11:54

      Thanks for your prayers Anita! This is not quite a “done deal” yet. Although Gyeonggi province passed this law, we will see this go through various steps over the next few months. But yes – we are praying James 1:5 – “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

  7. Ruth Thomas

    Says June 14, 2020 at pm 6:07

    Sad to hear of this change in Korean law. Still praying for you all, for continued wisdom and courage.Thankyou for updates for prayers. Jesus is Lord.

    • Pastor Tim

      Says June 16, 2020 at am 11:51

      Thanks Ruth! It is awesome to know that you are praying for us from half-way across the world! ~ Pastor Tim

  8. Steven Schnurman

    Says June 15, 2020 at pm 6:40

    I’m in. I will be supporting VOMNK as they seek to do the will of God amidst persecution from both North and South Korea. God bless you.

    • Pastor Tim

      Says June 16, 2020 at am 11:10

      We thank the Lord for your prayers and support Steve! I am responding to your e-mail now . . . ~ Pastor Tim


    Says June 17, 2020 at am 12:40

    Very sad to hear that the free nation of South Korea has made it illegal to send The Gospel to Communist North Korea via balloons after having allowed this for the past 15 years. I and all of D.M.M. will be praying for the reversal of this anti-Christ law be lifted.

    • Pastor Tim

      Says June 17, 2020 at pm 2:54

      Awesome . . . we appreciate these prayers! Even in the midst of this situation we know that God’s in control!! God Bless ~ Pastor Tim

  10. David E Reed

    Says June 18, 2020 at am 2:28

    We’ll be praying for wisdom for you and your staff on this. Things are changing rapidly all over the world right now, even here in the US. The church overall needs to be praying for wisdom and discernment as we face the changes and stay true to Christ commission. Satan’s time is short but Christ is still on the throne and our redemption is drawing closer.

    • Pastor Tim

      Says June 19, 2020 at pm 2:12

      Thanks for your partnership and prayers . . . we value it so much! We are praying James 1:5, not only for us, but for the whole body of Christ. Amen to what you shared . . . God is still in control! ~ Pastor Tim


    Says June 18, 2020 at pm 11:51

    I am distressed to hear of Satan’s latest tactics to stop the gospel. But I know that our God is marching on! The God of the Red Sea, the lion’s den, the fiery furnace and even a donkey’s voice is in control and is FOR us! He can make a way when there is no way. Our focus is on Him, not the circumstances. Know that I and multitudes of your brothers and sisters are praying for you and love you and what you are doing.

    • Pastor Tim

      Says June 19, 2020 at pm 2:13

      Thank you Diane! We know that you are praying for us . . . every time we go on a launch we can tell that the body of Christ from all over the world is supporting us! God Bless ~ Pastor Tim

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