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How We Were Founded

Caleb Mission began in 2000 when Pastor Seungeun Kim went on a mission trip to the North Korean border area in China. At that time, he was shocked and speechless after seeing dead bodies floating in the water, the bodies of North Korean defectors who had attempted to cross the border river to avoid starvation. He also witnessed North Korean homeless orphans, skeletal due to malnutrition, crossing the fast-moving river of death to beg. He kneeled in compassion and prayed with tears that he would give his life to God for them.



At that time, a North Korean defector named Esther hid in the church where Pastor Kim served, and the two fell in love and promised a future together. At that time, there were not many North Korean defectors, so there was no known rescue route.

In order to safely rescue her and their loved ones, Pastor Kim surveyed the Mongolian desert and the jungles of Southeast Asia, and assessed ways to rescue them by boat.


In the end, Esther arrived safely in South Korea via plane, and the routes she learned then are still used to rescue North Korean defectors today.

Esther Park, Pastor Seungeun Kim's first rescued North Korean defector, married Pastor Kim after arriving in South Korea and together they founded the Caleb Mission, which they continue to work for to this day. 


Pastor Seungeun Kim and his wife Esther in China

Esther Park studied theology in South Korea and was ordained as a pastor. She is devoted to the ministry of North Korean defectors who have settled in South Korea and North Korean defectors rescued through Pastor Kim and Caleb Mission. As a North Korean defector, Esther is a great help to the ministry by informing Pastor Kim and others about the reality of North Korea. 


Caleb Mission has since established a branch in the United States in 2020 to raise awareness about the situation of North Korean defectors.

 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. - James 1:27

Pastor Seungeun Kim

Pastor Seungeun Kim

Founder & President

Pastor Seungeun Kim is a prominent human rights activist, founder, president, and primary spokesperson for Caleb Mission. He passionately serves North Korean defectors and works tirelessly for their rescue and for building their self-reliance. He has also worked to rescue North Korean orphans. He has tried establishing international and domestic laws so the children can be more easily adopted and raised by loving families. Pastor Kim gained international recognition for his modern-day “Underground Railroad” ministry, which has rescued over 1,000 North Korean defectors since 2000.


His activities have been documented in various media outlets and were featured prominently in the recently released documentary Beyond Utopia. The film won the Audience Award at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Pastor Kim's faith and commitment to social justice for the people of North Korea continue to inspire people worldwide.

Esther Park

Esther Park is a North Korean defector who was a former North Korean military officer and is now in charge of pastoring the Seoul-Pyongyang Church of Caleb Mission. After her father, who was a scientist in North Korea, died of starvation due to lack of food, she could not bear to lose her mother who was also dying of malnutrition at that time, so she crossed the border to get food and received help from the church.

At this church, she met Pastor Seungeun Kim who was serving as a missionary. While hiding in the church, she read the Bible 100 times, had a close encounter with God, and had a dream of going to South Korea and working with Pastor Kim to minister to North Korean defectors.

With God's blessing, she safely arrived in South Korea, established Caleb Mission with Pastor Kim, and is serving North Korean defectors with devotion and prayer, both literally and spiritually. Also, as a pastor who is quite familiar with the situation of her fellow North Korean defectors, she serves as a spiritual leader in helping them settle in South Korea and grow their faith.

Then Queen Esther answered,
“If I have found favor with you,
Your Majesty, and if it pleases you,
grant me my life—this is my petition.
And spare my people—this is my request. -Esther 7:3

Rescue Team

Caleb Mission has a rescue team that traverses into far flung locales such as China, the jungle, and the Mekong River.


If one were to only entrust the rescue of North Korean defectors to brokers, in the event of a crisis, most brokers who treat North Korean defectors as sources of money will not take full responsibility for them. 


Caleb Mission tries to avoid using brokers as much as possible when rescuing North Korean defectors, and if the help of a broker is unavoidably necessary, a Caleb Mission worker will accompany them and prioritize and take responsibility for the safety of North Korean defectors under any circumstances.

This rescue team is comprised of ministers from South Korea and North Korea defectors.

In particular, in the case of North Korean defector missionaries, the punishment if caught is the same as the death penalty, but these missionaries risk their lives with the intention of returning the grace they received from God to save lives. Please pray for them.


Due to the nature of our ministry, we cannot share their personal information here, but their contributions are invaluable.

Support Team

Caleb Mission has support teams in South Korea, the United States, Japan, in Southeast Asia, and other parts of the world. 


Our support staff operates the main and U.S.-based websites, social media, and fundraising. They also preach the gospel to North Korean defectors, advocate for North Korean human rights issues to the world, and more.  


Caleb Mission established a branch in the United States in 2020 to raise funds and awareness for rescuing North Korean defectors and addressing their human rights issues.


A lot of collaboration is needed to publicize the work of Caleb Mission and the human rights issues of North Korean residents and to rescue North Korean defectors. We need your help to make this possible.


Currently, we are in need of designers who can create social media posts, video editors, or psychotherapy providers who can support North Korean defectors with psychological treatment.


We await the volunteer efforts of organizations and individuals who can help rescue North Korean defectors.


If you have a talent you'd like to contribute to our mission in North Korea, please send your cover letter and resume to


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