Imagine looking up into the sky on Christmas Eve and seeing huge balloons floating down carrying hundreds of packages of Peeps. The people of North Korea will experience just that this Christmas due to a new initiative from Seoul USA.
The Colorado Springs-based organization has offices in South Korea where it plans balloon launches to its northern neighbor throughout the year. The 40-foot weather balloons usually carry goods like religious materials, Bibles, practical necessities and news from the outside world.
But this Christmas Eve, the organization decided to launch a very different payload into the world's most closed country. The popular marshmallow stars, Christmas trees, and reindeer will infiltrate North Korea through balloons launched from secret locations on the South Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone.
The Rev. Eric Foley, co-founder and CEO of Seoul USA, explained in a statement some of the practical reasons for choosing Peeps. "Our balloons fly at high altitude. If we sent candy canes or cookies, they might break when they hit the ground. Plus who wants to get hit on the head by a falling candy cane? Peeps are lightweight. The lighter the weight, the more we can send."
Foley notes that balloon launching into North Korea is legal in South Korea. Last year, his organization sent 1.4 million flyers and 45,000 Bibles into the closed communist state.
The idea for balloon launches originated with North Korean defectors that escaped to South Korea. They began partnering with Seoul USA to help get the Gospel into North Korea through the balloons, and now make 60-70 launches throughout the year.
Foley told The Christian Post that the balloons are made out of huge sheets of plastic, the kind farmers use to cover crops. The plastic is sealed and then filled with hydrogen to get it airborne. Gospel fliers, Bibles and supplies are put inside a big trash bag and attached to the balloon with a metal ring. A small amount of acid is placed on the ring so that it will eventually eat through it and release the package once it has floated into North Korea.
In order to ensure the balloons get into North Korea, launchers pay close attention to weather and wind currents, and calculate their launch times and locations based on weather tracking information.
The main reason Seoul USA and North Korean defectors know they are having an impact with the balloons is because of protests by the North Korean government. Foley told The Christian Post they continually protest two things – radio broadcasts and balloon launches.
Foley further explained the inspiration for the Christmas balloon delivery in his statement. He said it came from the story of how one Christmas Eve during World War I, soldiers from England and Germany came out of their trenches to sing carols and to play soccer by moonlight. For one night, Foley said, war was put on hold in favor of humanity.
"We believe that for one night, it's possible to share simple joy with the people of North Korea," Foley said. "Everything about North Korean work is dark. Every day it's nuclear weapons, and sex trafficking and concentration camps. For one night we just want to spread happiness. After all, who can be against Peeps?"
Individuals interested in sponsoring a Peep can donate through the organization's website at www.seoulusa.org/peeps.