Rescue Operations

Durihana Rescues

The prime ministry of Durihana is the safe rescue of North Koreans and the proclamation of the gospel to them.  Once rescued, we serve them in every way possible and work with ministries who help the North Koreans after they have been rescued.  For the children that are rescued, we provide food, housing, and quality schooling according to God’s provision.  We help assimilate the children and adults into society in South Korea, or the United States, wherever they choose to live.

The majority of the people rescued are women and children.  Most of them escape the country and cross in to China because they are seeking food or work.  Once they find food in China, they take the supplies back to their starving families in North Korea.  Very often, when a woman escapes North Korea and crosses into China, she is captured by human traffickers who then sell her as a bride or a sex slave.  Some of these women have husbands back in North Korea.  Since they do not have a Chinese identification, they live in hiding in China.  If Chinese authorities catch them, they will be forcibly repatriated (sent back) to North Korea.  When sent back, they are sent to prison camps or labor camps where they are “purged” of their crime against their country.  “Purging” often means death.


Durihana has established various means and methods by which a North Korean may contact the ministry for help. Once contacted, the rescue process begins. Each rescue is different because each has its own set of people and circumstances.  The rescue is led by Durihana team members.  Those team members work with a network of people and safe houses that help along the way.  Together they make up North Korea’s Underground Railroad.

To rescue a North Korean is a very complicated and, therefore, very expensive process.  The border between North and South Korea is the most heavily militarized and fortified border in the world.  Because of this, to cross directly into South Korea is virtually impossible.  While the North shares a border with China, the South does not.  In fact, South Korea is entirely surrounded by ocean. The only border it shares is with North Korea.  This means that the rescue and escape takes place by a circuitous route from North Korea through China into Southeast Asia.  Once the defectors arrive safely at a South Korean embassy, they are held until their identification can be verified.  Once their identification is verified, they are flown to South Korea.  The entire journey is over 6,000 miles and costs an average of $11,000 per person.  Sometimes the amount is far less; sometimes it is far greater.  While the amount is staggering, it breaks down to just $1.83 per mile to rescue someone.

One of the greatest success stories is when a rescue comes full circle; when the one being rescued goes back as the one doing the rescue.

Image taken from this BBC article.