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.


The Lord has done some exciting things in the UU ministry project over the past few months. At the end of last year, we started training our UU students through our camping car ministry (called Mobile Chosun), where our UU students take trips to reach NK defectors in the countryside who have never heard the gospel before. During this last quarter, we added Bible translation to the UU curriculum.

Pastor and Dr. Foley visit the grave of Missionary John Ross in Edinburg, Scotland.

We are working with our UU students to modernize the first Bible that was ever translated into Korean—“예수셩교 누가복음전셔”(“The Holy Teachings of Jesus: Compendium of the Gospel of Luke”), which we call “The John Ross Bible” after the name of the main missionary who oversaw the translation. This Bible was translated together with North Koreans in 1882. Because our UU students are North Koreans, and many of them are elderly, they are the best people to undertake the task. However, the language is still so different between the original translation and modern speech that we just term this work ‘Bible translation’.

[2022.04] [18-150-20301 (2022) UU] [Mobile Chosun Translating] [Sanitized]
This NK defector had never heard about the John Ross Bible before. And she didn’t need to know much before she was off and translating.

So, now, when we go on Mobile Chosun trips, we copy off a portion of scripture for our students to translate together with the NK defectors we meet on the trip. Some of the people we meet do not even consider themselves Christians, and sometimes we can only meet together for an hour or two. So, as you can imagine, it doesn’t seem like it would go so well.

But, by the empowering of the Holy Spirit—it does!

Here is an excerpt from a recent Mobile Chosun trip ministry report:

“On the last Mobile Chosun trip, we ate and did worship together before translating, and so it gave the enemy time to mess things up. This time, we got drinks out, prayed, and got right to translating. We didn’t even spend time to explain much about the background of the John Ross Bible. We just pretty much said, ‘The Bible was not originally written in Korean, or even English, but in Greek and Hebrew. The first translation into Korean was done in Manchuria by Missionary John Ross and some merchants from the Northern part of Korea. So that’s why it’s in North Korean—Pyeongan province dialect.’ And then we got started. Even though we didn’t give them a lot of background information, They did a very good job and almost finished translating Luke 13 within one hour.

When we finished the first verses, I had the group stop and read what we had read so far. I asked one guest, “What does it mean?” She tried to make some sense of it, but she couldn’t understand it, which is understandable, because we started at Luke 13 where Jesus says to repent or else you will die like the people whose blood was mixed with the sacrifices or like the people on whom the tower fell. But the students had a good attitude. They said, ‘Let’s not stop to figure it out. Let’s keep translating, and that will help us understand it.’”

We have found that Bible translation is a both a wonderful discipleship ciricullum for our UU students as well as the best form of evangelism for the new NKs we meet. And due to the large volume of translation work, we are now meeting new NKs from all over Korea to help with the task! These NKs are all prospective UT and UU students.

A group of UU students do the Ross Bible translation together.

Prayer Requests for this project

  • Pray for UU candidates – Please pray for the new North Koreans who want to enroll in the Underground University (UU) program. UU is a serious missionary training school for NK defectors and it is not easy to enroll or continue in the program.
  • Pray for healing for UU students – Our UU students write their life stories (called Hero’s Journey) so they can see their lives in light of God’s providence, especially in the traumatic parts of their life. Please pray that the Holy Spirit would use this exercise to bring needed healing in their lives.
  • Pray for God’s leading about regional meetings – Ask God to lead us and our students about how to hold Bible translation meetings in the major regions of the South Korean countryside. We’ve found Bible translation to be good discipleship for our UU students and the best form of discipleship for the new NKs we meet from around Korea.

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

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