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.

[2023.2Q] [18-150-20102 (2022) UT] [Report Picture 1] [Sanitized].jpg
Pastor and Dr. Foley teach a class with NK defectors.
(Names, places, and dates in the following stories may have been changed for security purposes)


Mr. Kang of our North Korean prison discipleship program is one of the ripest fruits the Lord has allowed to be borne through our basic discipleship program – Underground Technology (UT). But his story begins from a place of great darkness: with the murder of another UT student.


CR was an NK defector living with her Han Chinese husband and child in China when we first met her through the UNKCM project. We discipled her to be faithful where the Lord had placed her and to work to evangelize her family and model serving the Lord to them.


But, of her own will, she decided to come to South Korea to start a new life and make a way for her Chinese family to settle down in South Korea together (VOM does not assist in defections). We encouraged her to attend UT. At the time, we only held UT classes in a classroom at the office. Because she lived far away from the office, she would come up from time to time to attend class but did not attend each week.


However, she met a man from her hometown in North Korea and began to have a relationship. This man was Mr. Kang. Mr. Kang lived in the same area as the office and, unbeknownst to us, CR would come up not only to attend UT but also to spend time with Mr. Kang.


As the relationship developed, CR told Mr. Kang that she was in the process of bringing her family to South Korea to settle down here. Although Mr. Kang was generally a kind and respectable man, Mr. Kang became very jealous and angry and, after getting drunk, he killed CR.

Pastor Tim welcomes UU/UT students to CR’s memorial service.

CR’s Chinese husband and son did successfully come to South Korea but, because there was no documentation of CR’s marriage to the Chinese husband, and because her son was not a legal adult, there was no next of kin who could legally claim her remains. Her remains were interred by the state without a proper funeral.


We held a memorial service for CR and went on a visitation to her husband and son. We wanted to find out the whereabouts of the murderer so that we could extend God’s grace and forgiveness to him, but it was difficult to get in contact with him.


Without our knowledge, one of our UU students, Mrs. Ahn had been privately making calls to Mr. Kang after his imprisonment. Mrs. Ahn had known Mr. Kang personally and believed that he was not generally an ill-tempered man but that he had behaved rashly due to his intoxicated state.


After some time, Mrs. Ahn began to be filled with guilt for her continued secret association with this murderer. Mrs. Ahn came to us and confessed that she had been having phone calls with him. She was surprised to learn that it was a good thing that she was associating with him despite the sin he had committed because God’s grace extends even to murders, and we helped her to learn how to communicate God’s grace and forgiveness to him.


Dr. Foley also began to exchange letters with Mr. Kang, offering God’s grace and forgiveness to him, and encouraging him to study God’s word deeply in prison and witness to other prisoners. Mr. Kang had thought that he could never be forgiven for what he had done, and that there was no way that God would use him anymore. He was deeply encouraged to know that the Lord had forgiven his sin, and that he could still be used by the Lord. He began reading VOMK books like Tortured for Christ in prison.

[2023.2Q] [18-150-20102 (2022) UT] [Report Picture 3] [Sanitized].jpg
Dr. Foley and Mrs. Ahn’s call with inmate Mr. Kang.

When we first made the John Ross Bible translation the curriculum for UT, Mr. Kang thought it was complicated and did not have confidence in doing it. But Mrs. Ahn kept discipling him and encouraging him over the phone to keep trying. Now, whenever they call, Mr. Kang shares passionately about the words that he is translating.


Mrs. Ahn is continuing to teach Mr. Kang how to do translation and write his reflections on the passages he translated. Mrs. Ahn also sets up phone call appointments with Mr. Kang so that Dr. Foley can speak with him, too. On the last phone call, Mr. Kang told Dr. Foley, “If I don’t do translation, I can’t fall asleep.”


Now that coronavirus restrictions have eased up, UT staff are considering the possibility of visiting Mr. Kang and of making connections with other NKs in other prisons to recruit students for the UT prison program.



  • Pray for the Lord to help us select UT students – As more and more NK defectors from the countryside express interest in UT, please pray that the Lord will lead us to recruit students who are committed to mobile ministry and who have the support of their local church pastor.
  • Pray for UT student Mr. Kang – Please pray for UT student Mr. Kang who is participating in the program from prison. Please pray that he will be a missionary to other people in the prison and bring the light of Christ to a dark place.

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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