A new seminary opens in Korea this month, but don’t expect a ribbon cutting ceremony or an open house.

“Underground Seminary”, a new Korean seminary operated by persecution ministry Voice of the Martyrs Korea, is designed to train Korean Christians how to lead the church in settings of growing opposition to the Christian faith in Korea. 

“The seminaries currently in operation in South Korea provide little to no training for their students in how to operate in environments increasingly hostile to the church,” says Pastor Eric Foley, CEO of Voice of the Martyrs Korea. “Underground Seminary brings to Korean Christians the training used to prepare leaders in the more than 70 countries around the world where Christianity is restricted or even outlawed.” 

According to Pastor Foley, the seminary is not only for pastors. 

 “In countries where Christians are severely persecuted, churches are typically led by ordinary Christians, not pastors,” says Pastor Foley, noting North Korea, China, and the Middle East as examples. “But the church is growing fastest in countries like these. That is because Christians in these countries have developed methods for quickly and quietly training all Christians to serve in hostile settings.” 

Pastor Foley believes the culture in Korea is becoming increasingly less tolerant of Christianity, but the church has been slow to develop training methods that can operate in settings of religious restriction. “COVID gave Korean churches a taste of what it is like to operate in a regulated or restricted environment—one where they were sometimes even publicly blamed for contributing to the spread of the disease,” says Pastor Foley. “But now that COVID has abated, churches have mostly returned to their pre-COVID ways of operation, simply hoping not to have experience such restrictions again and mostly trying to protect themselves through political strength. Very few churches, denominations, or seminaries have asked, ‘How do we prepare for a future where restrictions on religion are part of life?’” 

Voice of the Martyrs Korea CEO Pastor Eric Foley and Representative Dr. Hyun Sook Foley lead the Underground Seminary

Pastor Foley sees the answer in Underground Seminary. The seminary consists of six two-day sessions meeting once a month, taught by Pastor Foley and Voice of the Martyrs Representative Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, with additional video resources from persecuted Christians around the world. Two geographic cohorts are available: One near Pocheon and the other near Muju, at private facilities. Each month’s session begins at 7PM Friday and ends at 5PM Saturday. Food and lodging is included in the 500,000 KRW total cost for the six months. The first Pocheon session will be held April 12-13, with the first Muju session held April 26-27. The other dates are shown in the accompanying graphic. 

“The idea of Christians going to a seminary campus for three or four years of full-time training would be unthinkable in many countries around the world where the church is already facing restrictions,” says Pastor Foley. “Even the effort to bring Christians from persecuted countries to Korea for years of training at Korean seminaries has not produced leaders who are able to return to their countries and operate effectively in hostile environments. Instead, short, intensive, local monthly meetings like what we are offering through Underground Seminary have proven to be the most effective training method. We are happy to bring this training to Korea for the development of the next generation of Korean Christian leaders.” 

Pastor Foley says that each month’s curriculum will be built around the “Apostolic Proclamation”—the six core confessions that formed the preaching of Christ and the Apostles in the New Testament and which became codified for the church in the Apostles and Nicene Creed. He lists those confessions as follows: 


  1. When the time was fulfilled, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born of the seed of David.
  2. Christ died for our sins as according to the Scriptures.
  3. He was buried.
  4. He rose on the third day as according to the Scriptures.
  5. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
  6. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

“The focus of Underground Seminary is teaching church leaders how to keep the church functioning in the face of persecution,” says Pastor Foley. “From the time of the Apostles through the Protestant Reformers to the earliest Korean Christians until today, what has kept the church functioning is its full and faithful confession of who Christ is and what he has done. This confession—the so-called ‘Apostolic Proclamation’—has been the church’s main defense against persecution,” says Pastor Foley. 2 Timothy 1:14 tells us that the basic responsibility of all Christians and churches is to guard the message we’ve been given. In order to guard it, we have to know it deeply. Today more than ever, Korean Christians and church leaders need to return to the full and faithful confession of Christ. 

Pastor Foley says enrollment in Underground Seminary is open to Protestant Christians from recognized evangelical denominations. Individuals interested in enrolling should contact Voice of the Martyrs Korea for more information at 02-2065-0703 or by email at [email protected]. 

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