Below is a recent update from VOM Korea regarding these broadcasts.
When we first began doing North Korean ministry, we sought advice from the North Korean experts—North Koreans, themselves. “What is the most effective way to support the North Korean church?” We asked. “Radio broadcasts,” they said.
Ever since, we have been working together with North Koreans to create and air a daily discipleship training broadcast for North Korean underground Christians. These broadcasts include readings of VOMK’s NK Full Study Bible, episodes of Faith Comes By Hearing’s dramatised Korean New Testament, sermons and teachings from persecuted Christians, Wurmbrand books, dramas written and performed by North Korean Christians, and special teachings on the theology of persecution.
Over the years, we have done our best to ensure that this Korean language broadcast is available anywhere North Koreans can be found—inside North Korea and outside of it, where North Koreans are sent to work by the government, and where North Korean Christians go temporarily to be discipled, in places like north-east China. The broadcasts are also useful to our discipleship base leaders themselves.
The need for a broad reach means that the broadcast must take several different forms. The first form—the one we have been broadcasting the longest—is one of the strongest shortwave radio signals into North Korea. Although this shortwave radio also reaches countries far outside North Korea’s border, it’s best known for its long history of contention with North Korean and Chinese officials: Both countries are regularly doing their utmost to block this signal, and we are constantly having to work around increasingly complex and frequent jamming attempts.
The fact that the North Korean and Chinese governments are still attempting to jam this signal is evidence enough of its effectiveness.
Beginning in 2018, we added an AM radio signal to our repertoire in order to reach a new audience: AM radio listeners, who are found most commonly on the NK side of the North Korea/South Korea border. If you look at the most effective broadcasts into North Korea, they all augment their shortwave broadcasts with medium-wave radio. Although medium wave costs significantly more than short wave, it is well worth the cost: Medium wave radio signals are notoriously difficult for the North Korean government to block.
Another area of our expansion is satellite radio. This format also fixes a new problem that arose in February 2018: North Koreans in China, along with Chinese citizens, are finding the heavy hand of the government tightening its grip on their rights and privileges. In addition, most missionaries in north-east China have been kicked out, leaving North Koreans to fend for themselves. Despite many recent limitations and restrictions, satellite radio is still completely legal—and quite popular—for Chinese citizens. These facts—and several others—make satellite radio an excellent option for our discipleship bases inside of China, as well as the homes of North Korean women sold to Chinese men, since the satellites also feature Chinese language programming. Our 24/7 Korean language satellite radio broadcast went live in March, and our 24/7 Chinese language satellite broadcast is due to go live in April.
The satellite radio gives us much more time to consistently deliver discipleship materials in depth to our partners who do North Korean ministry and to the North Koreans they are ministering to.
Although the TVOM broadcast now has three different media (shortwave, AM, and satellite), the focus remains unchanged. Every broadcast is filled with God’s word, whether it be through scripture, drama, interview, training, or lecture from a persecuted Christian.
We’ve also found that by including the sermons and teachings of early Korean Christians (many of whom were North Koreans during the time of the Japanese occupation who suffered for their faith at the hands of the Japanese who were infuriated that they refused to bow at the Japanese shrines) in these radio programs, we can reconnect the North Korean underground church to their spiritual ancestors. Christianity in Korea was largely heralded by Koreans from the North, and so when North Koreans learn about their history from the lips of the Korean Christians, they are learning from the North Korean Christians who came before them. This fact is often shocking to North Koreans as they have grown up thinking about Christianity as the foreign religion of “the American Imperialists and South Korean puppets.” Discovering the Christian heritage which they have been stripped of often inspires North Koreans to good works.
Our goal, however, is to ensure that whatever way North Koreans tune into our broadcast and through whatever portion of the broadcast they listen to, they are hearing one voice: The Voice of the God that they are seeking to learn more about so that, even in a nation that prides themselves on the hushing of his voice, they might echo it into the silence.