Underground Technology School

Underground Technology School

Underground Technology School

Underground Technology School

UT 학교

Many people pray that North Korea will be opened so that North Korean ministry can begin. But did you know that North Korean ministry has already begun? Every year, more than 1,000 North Koreans defect into South Korea. Some of these defectors bring with them a burning desire to know God. Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s Underground Technology (UT) school was created to help these defectors. UT staff work together with South Korean churches to disciple NK defectors in rudiments of the Christian faith.


Voice of the Martyrs recently began a Bible Dance Therapy Class for Underground Technology, a basic discipleship school for North Koreans in South Korea.


Here’s why . . .


There are three complex issues which North Korean defectors face when adjusting to life in South Korea which have particularly stood out to us in relation to their discipleship:

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Dr. Foley leads a Bible Dance Therapy class

1  North Koreans struggle to adapt to Christianity in South Korea because the South Korean approach to Christianity requires a South Korean cultural and linguistic base which North Koreans do not have. This problem most evidently presents itself in the preaching and reading of the Bible because the South Korean Bible was translated by and for South Korean scholars, not ordinary Koreans.


2  North Koreans struggle to adapt to social life in South Korea because the social life they are accustomed to in North Korea is communal in nature. It involves eating, singing, and dancing together on a regular basis with one’s adjacent neighbors. But South Koreans tend to form their social life on the basis of preference, convenience, and privacy. For these reasons, it is less common for South Koreans to form relationships with neighbors or invite people into their homes. This can contribute to North Koreans feeling depressed, as their main method of giving and receiving relational support does not work in South Korea.


3   Many North Koreans suffer from trauma, depression, and related mental health issues. The main support which the government provides for them to help them treat this aspect of their settlement in South Korea is financial coverage for antipsychotic, antidepressant, and sleep medication prescriptions. While this medication may help them to bring their mental health issues under control, many of them report the persistence of symptoms and develop dependence and tolerance to the medication.



The creative answer to these three problems is Bible Dance Therapy.


1  Bible: VOM has been helping North Koreans to see through the John Ross Bible translation, the Bible was first translated by North Koreans using language that would be understandable to common Koreans. Although the Bible in widest usage among Koreans today is South Korean-centered and scholastic, it has not always been so. When North Koreans learn about the history of the Bible, they uncover that their distinctive brand of faith (which is humble, unofficial, and underground) is normal and has historical precedence.


2  Dance: If you give North Koreans music and a broad floor, they know what to do and are happy to do it. It has been a formative part of most of their lives up until their arrival in South Korea. In South Korea, dance is relegated to the studios and to the clubs and is not commonly practiced as a recreational communal activity in the lives of ordinary people. Giving North Koreans space and occasion to dance helps them to maintain a healthy communal life that is native to them.


3  Therapy: Dance therapy provides an alternative form of dealing with trauma, depression, and other mental health issues for North Koreans whose main form of handling these issues, medication, has been largely ineffective until this point.

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North Koreans dancing at a campsite

Bible Dance Therapy then encompasses all of these things in its focus. It serves to help North Koreans to overcome trauma and mental health issues through learning about and expressing the history of the Korean Bible through dance.


Through Bible dance therapy, North Korean student Mrs. J, has been learning that the Bible did not first come to South Korea, but to North Korea. She said, “I thought that South Korea had a history of Christianity. But, through the dance, that idea was broken.” She continued, “I got to know about Missionary Robert Thomas and learned about how the Bible first came to Korea.”


Upon learning about these things, Mrs. J said, “I am so happy and excited that we have come to know Jesus Christ through the dedication and service of our missionaries.” She added, “I don’t want to imagine what would have happened to me if I did not know Jesus Christ…Through the missionaries’ martyrdom, many women were able to share Jesus, and now I am able to meet Jesus and share the gospel.”



  • Pray for discernment as we select candidates for UT – Please pray that God will send us to North Koreans living in South Korea who will commit to discipleship in the methods of the underground church through UT.
  • Pray for UT Students facing opposition – UT students are coming closer to God through translating and reflecting on His word. They often suffer spiritual opposition as a result through their health or family members. Please pray for them to keep the Lord before them and not to be moved (Psalm 16:8).

About Underground Technology School

Q1. What is Underground Technology(UT)?

Nearly 80 percent of those who leave North Korea are women. The majority of those have had some kind of traumatic encounter related to human trafficking or abuse. When they come to South Korea, few churches know how to relate, let alone help. Often in an effort to do good, churches and social programs regard these women simply as victims and recipients of services.  Voice of the Martyrs Korea takes a different approach. We see these women as amazing, creative, and powerful. How else could they have successfully escaped the most brutal and repressive regime on earth and then survived and triumphed over sex traffickers, abusers, and underground police, all while traveling three thousand miles across countries whose languages they do not speak, even while they had no money and were caring for children or parents or other refugees? Our goal is to help them grow in relationship to the God they met along the way—the God who has an even more exciting adventure for them in the future.

Underground Technology (UT) is our six month school where those adventures are born. It is a personal discipleship program where female and male North Korean Christian defectors are trained in five key areas to equip them for the next stage of their journey: 1) Academic success; 2) Life skills; 3) Character formation; 4) Relationship development; and 5) Spiritual foundation. Through field trips, internships, classroom education, volunteering and one-on-one coaching and counseling, they not only receive care for the hurts they have sustained; more than that, at UT they learn to care for others—especially those in their immediate sphere of influence, like their family members in South Korea and North Korea.

Q2. What do you teach at UT?

We use a variety of resources, but the Prasso materials are foundational to UT.  Prasso is the Greek word meaning “to practice” and it is designed to help ordinary Christians learn to practice the Bible in the everyday events of their lives.

In addition, instructors from all over the world who are among the most well-regarded in their fields of practice teach both in person and via videoconference. UT students learn what the “ordinary” Christian life is all about, and they get to see how that is practiced around the world.

All of our teaching materials are specifically adapted for North Koreans.  For example, North Korean people are used to criticizing one another and thinking negatively about each other’s talents.  This is how they were educated and required to behave in North Korea.  In UT, students learn how to change their sinful thoughts and habits into godly ones.  Students learn how to encourage one another and to regard each other with charitable judgment. They learn to pray for people other than themselves. This simple activity is an important corrective to North Korea’s “self-criticism” meetings.

Q3. Testimony From a Current UT Student

Ms. Han’s friend was shocked. She could hardly recognize Ms. Han. It wasn’t that Ms. Han had gotten her hair cut or lost weight. It wasn’t even that she hadn’t seen Ms. Han in a while. After all, the two met together every Sunday. The difference was that Ms. Han wore a genuine, confident smile on her face.

Like many North Koreans, Ms. Han had, understandably, wrestled with fear on a regular basis. She had also, understandably, tried to keep this fear to herself. Who cared enough about her to ease the burden of her fears? Who could possibly understand the struggles she faced? It wasn’t until Ms. Han attended UT that she was given an answer to her questions: not only does God care enough, but God understands her most harrowing experiences. After all, God was there with her.

Every week, VOMK staff members and volunteers travel to the UT student’s homes. This not only gives the students a chance to practice mirroring God by hosting the very people the student was raised to fear and hate (North Koreans are taught that the South Koreans and Americans hate them), but it also gives the students a chance to open up about the challenges they face.

“I feel blessed when you come to visit me,” one UT student told the staff that visited her. “I love to share what I have with everyone. One day, I hope I can share my house with the whole UT class!”

This particular student had been struggling with fear all her life. She assured us that she felt blessed to have made it to South Korea. Life in South Korea came equipped with its own toil and trouble, but life in North Korea was almost unbearable. There was no money and so her son had to steal and lie in order to survive. Every day, this student would fear for her son’s life. Even a knock at the door would tug at her nerves: anything could be a sign that her son had been found out and killed.

However, this student did not leave her fears behind when she left Nouth Korea. Her son still lives in North Korea and she spends every day fearing for his life. This student admitted to us that she feared she would never see her son again. By sharing this fear, this student handed it over to God.

Not only were our staff members able to pray for her, but her fellow students were able to pray for her as well. And when these students heard about her sorrow, they opened up about their own. Several students also had sons and daughters that still lived in North Korea. Several were afraid they would never be able to see their children again, either.

Yet after we prayed, the students did not gather together and cry. They smiled together and comforted one another. When fear is hidden, it becomes despair. However, when fear is shared, it becomes hope.

Q4. What kind of field trips do you do with the UT students?

We recently took UT students to the Yanghwajin Foreign Missionary Cemetery.  This cemetery is a place where foreign missionaries’ compassion and love for Korea is kept alive.  This is particularly important for our North Korean students, because it was in the northern part of pre-war Korea that missionaries first found the greatest acceptance.  North Korea was a missionary launching pad for the gospel as it went across Korea and Northeast China.

When the UT students lived in North Korea, they heard these same missionaries were American imperialists who were very cruel and evil.  A field trip like this not only challenges their long-held assumptions, but also encourages them not to get too comfortable in South Korea, but instead be ready to serve God in everything they do

Q5. What kinds of volunteer activities do UT students do?

The UT students are regularly involved with everything from launching balloons to packing up North Korean Bibles for distribution.  Serving others is an extremely important part of the UT training, because from the moment defectors enter South Korea they are only taught to receive.  This “receiving” mentality stunts their Christian growth. A regular program of volunteering and serving is needed to help the students grow to fullness in Christ.

These ministry opportunities are normally denied to many NK defector men and women, but they are essential to helping them to understand about the God who takes the stone the builders have rejected and makes it the cornerstone—in this case, the cornerstone of new, God-centered leadership in the North Korean defector community and in North Korea itself.

Q6. How can I send a message of encouragement to UT students?

Teachers in North Korea teach schoolchildren to hate Westerners (and especially Americans), and they are taught that those in America and the West hate them and seek to do them harm. Thus, when UT students receive a card from you, they express wonderment at this barrier-breaking element of the Body of Christ. You can of course write in English, as our staff and volunteers happily provide a basic translation of the contents. We encourage you to mail cards to the Voice of the Martyrs, and we will hand-deliver them to UT students in Korea.


Please include a picture of yourself – the UT students love to see who is praying for them!  Please include a Scripture verse for them.  These are easy for our volunteers to translate.

Please include a sentence or two of your own encouraging words.  If the contents of your card are too long, the translation will take too long for our volunteers.


Address: 15, Jeongneung-ro 17-gil, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul, Korea
주소 : 대한민국 서울특별시 성북구 정릉로 17길 15
Phone: 02-2065-0703
Office hours:  Tue ~ Sat 09:00 – 17:00
Email: [email protected]

Q7. Can I set up a pen-pal relationship with a UT student?

Sorry, but thanks for understanding. Confidentiality is of the utmost importance to us and to the students. That’s because students have family members still inside North Korea, and those family members are punished by the North Korean government for the students’ “sin” of defecting. That’s why we release no details about the students and why students are very protective of their privacy. A message of encouragement to all the students is the best pen pal note you can send!


Address: 15, Jeongneung-ro 17-gil, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul, Korea
주소 : 대한민국 서울특별시 성북구 정릉로 17길 15
Phone: 02-2065-0703
Office hours:  Tue ~ Sat 09:00 – 17:00
Email: [email protected]

Q8. What happens after a student graduates from UT?

Graduates of the UT program are eligible to enroll in the Underground University program. UT students are an excellent source of candidates for Underground University.


  1. 탈북민, 북한 지하교회 방식대로 선교사를 훈련하는 학교 졸업!!! – Voice of the Martyrs Korea

    Says December 04, 2018 at pm 4:18

    […] UT 학교 […]

  2. 케이티

    Says September 14, 2022 at am 4:29

    So thankful for the work you are doing with the UT and the work that ultimately God is doing through all of you. I imagine translation works a lot like memorization does for me. Read and forget, but the meditating on changes our hearts. May we all learn from this and not ignore the freedoms we have now. And may God continue to create His image in the hearts of each and every one of these North Koreans, producing His life and character to draw many South Koreans (and beyond) to Himself.

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