VOMK sends only Bibles by balloon, in print and in audio form on SD card. The SD cards include additional Bible study and Christian history contents that are listed here and available throughout our VOMK website, YouTube, and Podbang pages. We never send political or cultural materials, only the Bible.
Podbang Account (choose “SD Card” from the dropdown menu)
Why is Sending Balloon Bibles so Important?
Our UU student is pictured in the back-row on the far left and Dr. Kim is in the middle of the front row.
As we continue to deal with the uncertainty of the SK government’s position on NK ministry, one of our UU students, Mrs. Jung, told us a story that reminded us how important the balloon ministry is.
She was wrapping a balloon Bible in plastic, which we’ve continued to do every day this summer, and she became very emotional. We found out that the Bible wrapping caused her to remember an underground Christians that she met several years earlier.
When Mrs. Jung was in Northeastern China at a discipleship base run by Dr. Kim, there was one underground believer who arrived from North Korea looking desperately for a Bible. His parents were underground believers, and he himself had accepted Jesus even without a Bible. So when he visited China, his top priority was to find a Bible and read it deeply. After doing just that at the base, he returned to NK. Mrs. Jung does not know what happened to him, but she still remembers this underground believer who valued the Bible like a jewel. As she packed Bibles at VOMK, she imagined how joyful underground believers would be to receive them.
The memory of Dr. Kim and this underground Christian continues to remind her how precious each and every balloon Bible is that she wraps and how important it is to continue to send these Bibles to North Korea.
UU student wraps Bibles in plastic.
Another UU student puts a sticker on the front cover of every Bible which says "God is real."
대형 풍선 사역
Could you ever imagine yourself smuggling God’s words into North Korea? You may want to consider volunteering for one of Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s balloon launches. Every year, VOMK sends approximately 30,000 Bibles into North Korea by balloon. These launches are completely legal and have been conducted for 13 years without causing any problems. Because of our new GPS technology, we can confirm that a majority of our Bible carrying balloons land in North Korea.
A few months ago, one of our North Korean partners discovered something that turned her world upside-down: her mother had been a member of the North Korean underground church. What was our partner’s first impulse upon hearing this news? Was it to smuggle her mother out of North Korea? No. It was to arrange for a smuggler to take a Bible into her in North Korea.
Why is this? Bibles are incredibly difficult—or, rather, very expensive—to obtain in North Korea. Since owning a Bible in North Korea is also quite dangerous, North Koreans will often opt to rent one from a smuggler—and smugglers often charge a hefty sum for this service. As much as a full month’s wages for only a couple of days. Despite this exorbitant price, defectors have told us that a few North Koreans are willing to pay this price.
“The government severely punishes people who own this book,” one defector explained. “And that makes a few of us curious as to what’s in it.”
Think about that: North Korea is a country where many men and women starve on the little wages they are given. Yet there are still individuals willing to sacrifice all they have just to get a glimpse of the Bible.
Bible smugglers and couriers can reach people in the northern two thirds of North Korea. But in the southern third of North Korea, where the majority of the population—and the government—lives, delivering Bibles personally is extremely difficult. The request of North Korea’s underground Christians? Launch them in by balloon from South Korea.
VOM Korea launches approximately 40,000 Bibles per year into the southern third of North Korea. The results have been encouraging. When we started more than 10 years ago, less than 2% of North Korean defectors reported ever having seen a Bible while inside North Korea. Today that number is around 10%. With our GPS tracking technology, we can confirm exactly where our balloons are landing in North Korea. Moreover, we can trust that God is delivering these Bibles into the hands of those whom he intends—sometimes even the army or even government officials.
However, we need your help.
Launching balloons off into North Korea is a lot more difficult than it sounds! Bibles need to be carefully packed into balloons, balloons need to be launched (often under the cover of darkness), and weather patterns have to be just right. Whether it be through prayer or volunteering or financial giving, we need your continued support so that God will continue to allow Bibles to rain down from the heavens in North Korea.
According to a North Korean defector (an official tasked with “cleaning up” the landing sites of Bibles before civilians found them), even when these drops are reported—which, owing to strict punishment, nearly always happens—Bibles are still smuggled out of the quarantine area—or at least glanced over. The government’s fierce opposition to a single book intrigues North Koreans: What is this book that can overthrow a nation?
With your support, North Koreans were able to receive the word of God—even before their government officially “opened” the country to the gospel. Proof of this can be seen in the increasing number of North Korean defectors who have seen a Bible inside of North Korea. Several North Koreans we’ve spoken with are even familiar with our Bible in particular. They’ve not only recognized the Bibles we brought with us but have been able to recall—down to the smallest detail—older versions of this Bible we sent into North Korea in the past.
Our balloon season ends when the weather changes; September brings with it unfavorable weather for balloon launches. This doesn’t mean we stop sending Bibles into North Korea; it just means we change the way the Bibles are sent!
Photo used courtesy of NK News. Pastor Foley readies himself to launch each balloon . . . one by one
자주 묻는 질문
What are balloon launches?
With North Korea being a closed country, distribution of unapproved literature is a capital offense. Distribution via land couriers is highly dangerous and the liability for those caught doing so often results in death or forced labor … and it’s even worse for those carrying Christian literature like tracts or Bibles. So we launch large hydrogen balloons into North Korea carrying the Christian message.
What do we launch?
In 2019, we launched 28,672 North Korean dialect New Testaments, and 5,000 USB drives/SD cards into North Korea.
Where do we launch from?
Balloon launches take place in the countryside areas near the border between South Korea and North Korea where the wind current is favorable. Complex weather measurements are taken to ensure balloons float in the right direction and land where intended inside North Korea. Through multiple launch points, we are able to drop materials on areas that are largely unpenetrated by the Gospel.
Who does the launching?
The balloon launch team is made up of staff and students from VOM Korea’s Underground University Program. Our team is “on call” and ready to go out for a launch at any time: day or night, rain or shine.
What does an average balloon launch look like?
No balloon launch is ever average, but below is a video from a recent balloon launch in 2017!