Religious Freedom Concerns On the Rise in South Korea

South Korean police stop VOM Korea from launching sea bottles containing Bibles to North Korea. (Photo courtesy of Eric Foley/VOM Korea)

Last month, North Korea demanded that South Korea stop all cross-border balloon launches. Two weeks later, South Korea officially banned all attempts to send material into North Korea. See our full coverage here.

Voice of the Martyrs Korea is the only group sending Bibles – not political flyers – across the border, but officials don’t seem to care.

“For 15 years, we’ve had a very respectful and cooperative relationship with authorities at all levels: police, military, and intelligence. That seems to have changed this year. The governor of Gyeonggi province, Governor Lee, has called for my immediate arrest, conviction, and deportation,” VOM Korea’s Eric Foley says.

There’s more to this issue than meets the eye. “Balloon launching is the tip of a much deeper iceberg,” Foley adds.

“The issue is the legitimacy of private ministry activity that’s conducted independently of the government in a responsible fashion. Those rights are, at the moment, in jeopardy.”

National interests or religious freedom?

As a democracy, South Korea protects certain inherent freedoms: the freedom of speech, for example, or the freedom of religion. However, government officials are pushing both aside to appease North Korea, Foley says.

“It’s dangerous to shift away and risk religious freedom, and the freedom of speech, to pacify North Korea – which, historically, has not been an easy proposition,” he notes.

“Those freedoms are hard-won, but easily and quickly lost. We’ve seen that happen in a matter of three weeks in our country.”

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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Katey Hearth

CALL TO ACTION

  • As they face an uncertain future, ask the Lord to sustain Foley and the VOM Korea team. Pray justice will prevail as investigations continue.
  • Pray VOM Korea can continue its valuable partnership with persecuted North Korean believers.
  • Pray North Koreans who discover VOM Korea’s Bible balloons will encounter Christ by reading Scripture.