Underground University

Underground University

Underground University

Underground University

UU 학교

Underground University isn’t just a school that teaches North Korean defectors how to do North Korean ministry—it’s a school through which North Koreans actually do North Korean ministry. Rather than waiting for Reunification, UU students take steps toward reunification by ministering to their own people—North Koreans who have defected, been sex trafficked, or who have been sent out to work in order to make money for the NK regime in countries around the world.


During the end of 2023 and the start of 2024, we have been working on a special project with some of our UU students. This project is called the John Ross Bible Musical.


In previous reports, we have shared how we’ve been using Bible Dance Therapy as a way to teach North Koreans the history of the Bible on the Korean peninsula, develop a sense of belonging in community, and help them to recover from various trauma. Our NK students feel that the history of the Bible in Korea is something that all South Koreans and North Koreans need to learn. The John Ross Bible Musical is a response to that felt need.

18-150-40301 [2024] UU 2024 1Q (4)
UU students and VOMK staff practicing for the John Ross Bible Musical

Many people trace the beginning of Christianity in Korea to around the year 1885, the year when the first missionaries arrived in Korea after the end of a long period of isolationalist foreign policy in Korea. These missionaries and those who followed in their footsteps were responsible for the building of many important social institutions such as hospitals, universities, and large churches, many of which are still in operation today. These institutions have long since been turned over to be run by Koreans who monolithically emphasize the importance of the role of their founders in the history of Christianity in Korea. As a result, the history of Christianity in Korea pre-1885 is not emphasized.


What is tragic is modern-day South Korean Christianity looks very different from Christianity before 1885. Before 1885, it was characterized by native missionaries, Bible smuggling, and underground churches—much the same as that of Christianity in North Korea in modern times. In fact, the difference between Christianity in North Korea and South Korea is so great that some South Korean Christians doubt whether there are real Christians in North Korea today.

John Ross Bible Musical flier

The John Ross Bible Musical is a historical drama which re-enacts the main events which contributed to the spread of Christianity in Korea before 1885. Through the historical drama, North Koreans and South Koreans alike are exposed to and confronted with historical evidence that the underground brand of Christianity has pre-eminence on the Korean peninsula and serves to help them to come to terms with the legitimacy  of underground Christians who suffer for their witness today in North Korea.


The premiere of the John Ross Bible Musical is for April 17th this year, touring for different audiences at churches around the country. While we hope that the impact on audiences will be great, perhaps the greatest impact the musical has had has been on the students themselves as they prepare for the musical.


The UU students realize that the circumstances that they find themselves in as they do Bible translation and evangelize other North Koreans are analogous to the the circumstances which John Ross and the first Korean Christians faced when they first translated the Bible and evangelized other Koreans.


Perhaps the participant who has been the most impacted is Mrs. Kim. When Mrs. Kim lived in North Korea, she experienced horrific trauma. Through Bible Dance Therapy, she found a way to express her pain redemptively as a sacrifice of thanks to the Lord. It has been especially difficult for Mrs. Kim to learn things which may come more naturally to other Christians, such as reading the Bible or praying. But now, through the John Ross Bible Musical, she has had no choice but to practice praying and preaching the gospel just to learn her lines!


Also, on a recently Luke 10 mission trip conducted on Jeju Island, Mrs. Kim was part of a team that wasn’t able to successfully meet any North Koreans despite working and praying hard to do so. At the end of the trip as the team started to head back home unsuccessfully, Mrs. Kim quoted a line from the John Ross Bible Musical script to a VOMK staff member, asking, “If it is God’s will, shouldn’t we be successful?” The staff member caught on and quoted back, “Success and failure and not for us to decide. We are just supposed to do our best for the ministry that God has given us. Then God will take what we do and fulfill His will in the end. Isn’t that what it says in Romans 8:28”


Mrs. Kim said, “I have learned a lot about Christianity through memorizing the historical drama.” Mrs. Kim said that she suspects that the drama script was written (at least in part) for the UU student’s growth as Christians.

Prayer Requests for this project

  • Pray for UU Students Facing Spiritual Warfare – Our UU students face spiritual attacks on their health and relationships in order to deter them from their ministry of discipleship and evangelism. Please pray for their victory in Christ, which was already won through His work on the cross (Colossians 2:15).
  • Pray for the Recruitment of New UU Students – We are focusing our efforts to recruit new students in the Daejeon area. Please pray that the Lord of the harvest will send workers into the harvest (Luke 10:2).

About Underground University

1. We train and deploy students for ministry to North Korea today.

We do “works of mercy field trips” each month where we practice sharing our bread, opening our homes, healing and comforting, visiting and remembering, and other disciplines with North Korean defectors and South Korean outcasts. Students are required to minister to NKs internationally before they graduate. That puts them in a very small category of experienced NK ministers!

2. There is an emphasis on hearing and doing the word.

This is not only a field ministry training program. There are homework assignments and quizzes for every class session. Students memorize large amounts of scripture weekly, in keeping with the tradition of the North Korean underground church. Each of our tracks, like Persecution Theology (using In The Shadow Of The Cross), is serious study. We hold ourselves and our students to a seminary standard in theology while offering and requiring more practical theological participation than many South Korean seminaries.

3. Rooted in mentoring.

1 Timothy 3:1-5 shows that the key to effective missionary service is learning to be an effective minister in one’s own family. That can only be learned life-on-life, and that has made UU a one day classroom experience supplemented by a six day supervised life experience—one that continues well beyond their graduation.

Alumni mentor existing students by acting as examples, coaches, and understanding elder brothers and sisters. This is proving to be a crucial missing piece in both enabling more thorough instruction and also creating greater connection with our alumni.


  1. 북한 고아들을 고아원에 보내면 안 되는 이유 – Voice of the Martyrs Korea

    Says February 19, 2019 at pm 3:29

    […] UU 학교 […]

    • Ruth+Thomas

      Says August 14, 2021 at pm 5:58

      Praying for you. Thanks for the information and prayer pointers.
      Ruth Thomas

      • Pastor Tim

        Says August 16, 2021 at pm 9:56

        Thank you Ruth!! God Bless ~ Pastor Tim

  2. The New Wave of Christian Persecution in China is Producing a New Wave of North Korean Missionaries from the Most Unusual Backgrounds | Do the Word

    Says March 27, 2019 at am 10:33

    […] years we and our Underground University (UU) North Korean missionary students have evangelized North Korean workers sent abroad to make […]

  3. Elliot

    Says November 01, 2019 at am 4:29

    What can we do here in the United States to help the North Koreans learn about Jesus our Lord?

  4. Rosalba Mendoza

    Says March 20, 2020 at am 8:35


    I am interested in joining in this mission. How can I do?

  5. Rosalba Mendoza

    Says March 20, 2020 at am 8:36


    I am interested in joining whit this mission.

    How can I do?

    • vom staff

      Says March 21, 2020 at pm 3:03

      Thanks Rosalba! We sent you an e-mail. God Bless ~ Pastor Tim

  6. Brian

    Says May 31, 2022 at pm 6:58

    God bless for all people who take this course and praying for UU program!

    • Pastor Tim

      Says June 03, 2022 at pm 1:53

      Thank you Brian! God Bless ~ Pastor Tim

  7. Muriel Richardson

    Says June 24, 2022 at am 1:53

    Still in my prayers…for all of you in your various missions! Happy memories of my visit and meeting you all. May The LORD bless all your endeavours in Him

    • Pastor Tim

      Says June 25, 2022 at am 11:03

      Thank you Muriel! We miss you! God Bless ~ Pastor Tim

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