Underground University (UU) is a year-long ministry and leadership training school for North Korean defectors living in Seoul. In addition to the classroom work and personal mentoring and service assignments, students participate in mission trips to minister to North Koreans living in other countries. Underground University stands out among training programs for North Korean defectors because:
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.
You can hear how these distinctives play out in the lives of UU graduates:
Ms. Hur: I considered myself as nobody and worthless before I studied in UU. I thought that it was enough to worship and pray hard as well as to know God’s love and love Him because I am an old lady. However, my negative idea about myself has been changed while I studied in UU. I gained confidence by serving others with love as I followed God’s will, and by spreading the gospel.
Mr. Ham (rescued by UU from a cult into which he had fallen even while actively involved in one of SK’s most prominent churches): I had a turning point spiritually while I studied in UU. I have learned many things that I was curious about but could not get enough answers from sermons on Sunday. I have been grown up spiritually in UU. After I repented my sin for being shaken and being lured by Satan, I restarted to walk by faith step by step. And I learned a lesson that I can be firmly standing in faith when I only believe in and follow God from this experience.
Ms. Hwang: I still remember and think daily about Pastor Foley, Dr. Foley and the other lecturers. I really appreciate their great efforts even from far away in America to teach UU students here. I will study the Bible more based on the knowledge I have attained in UU School and spread the gospel to those who do not know the true God in North Korea.
God has laid North Korea on my heart. Where do I start?
- Pray. VOM Korea provides guided prayer points on the ways you can intercede for and pray alongside the North Korean underground church. Sign up to receive the Prayer Partner Update. http://vomkorea.kr/resources/prayer-partner-update/
- Learn about the culture, history, and values of North Korea from these resources featured in this reading list: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/culture/2013/12/142_148698.html
- Listen to Pastor Foley speak about how to be as free as a North Korean Christian. It’s not as paradoxical as it sounds. Download the audio file here: http://vomkorea.kr/media/podcasts/how-to-be-as-free-as-a-north-korean-christian/
- Read “These are the Generations”, a chronicle of life in North Korea for a Christian family. http://vomkorea.kr/resources/books-cds-dvds/
- Write a card to a UU or UT student. We’ll help translate it. Let the student know you are praying for them, and include a Scripture verse which God has used in your life. Mail the card to VOM Korea, and we’ll hand-deliver it to the UU or UT class.
VOM Korea, 101, 46 Mapo-daero 4na-gil
Mapo-dong Mapo-Gu Seoul Korea 04176
- Plan to grow to fullness in Christ in relation to this cause by working with VOM Korea’s team to develop a comprehensive strategy for your involvement. Together we can help you search the scriptures, learn from underground Christians, pray knowledgeably for them and other North Koreans, incorporate this into your worship life, practice self-denial in partnership with your NK brothers and sisters, and give and serve effectively. Contact for more information.