Category : South Korea

(NYT) Running Out of Children, a South Korea School Enrolls Illiterate Grandmothers

Every morning on her way to school, Hwang Wol-geum, a first grader, rides the same yellow bus as three of her family members: One is a kindergartner, another a third grader and the other a fifth grader.

Ms. Hwang is 70 — and her schoolmates are her grandchildren.

Illiterate all her life, she remembers hiding behind a tree and weeping as she saw her friends trot off to school six decades ago. While other village children learned to read and write, she stayed home, tending pigs, collecting firewood and looking after younger siblings. She later raised six children of her own, sending all of them to high school or college.

Yet it always pained her that she couldn’t do what other mothers did.

“Writing letters to my children, that’s what I dreamed of the most,” Ms. Hwang said.

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Education, South Korea

(Atlantic) North Korea’s Secret Christians

South Korea turned off dozens of high-volume loudspeakers on Monday, putting a halt to the propaganda they normally broadcast over the border into North Korea. The move, a government spokesman said, was designed to set a peaceful tone ahead of the talks between the two Koreas Friday—a tone that was reinforced by the announcement that the countries had committed to work toward a peace agreement. The strikingly amicable inter-Korean summit will in turn set the tone for an upcoming U.S.-North Korea summit, during which President Trump and Kim Jong Un are expected to discuss denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But while the South’s loudspeakers have stopped blaring reports critical of the North, forbidden messages are still flowing across the border—on the airwaves of a Christian radio station.

South Korea’s largest religious radio broadcaster, the Far East Broadcasting Company, transmits gospel-centered programs to both North and South Korea every day of the week. The station’s goal is to use Christian radio to subvert the Kim regime’s strict ban on religion, and ultimately pave the way for a unified, Christianized Korean Peninsula. The Christians behind FEBC advocate for the reunification of the two Koreas under a democratic system, which they believe would bolster religious freedom. What’s more, they see Christianity and North Korean ideology as mutually exclusive—and argue that the former can be an antidote to the latter.

Around 20 percent of South Korea’s population identifies as Protestant, and Protestantism has roots on the Korean Peninsula stretching back to the 19th century, when American missionaries began arriving there. The religion gained stature as churches became associated with the resistance to Japanese occupation of a then-unified Korea during World War II, but still remained on the margins—only 2 percent of South Koreans were Christian in 1945.

But the two Koreas took different religious paths following their division in 1948….

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Posted in North Korea, Religion & Culture, South Korea

Archbishop Justin Welby welcomes Korean Anglican leader to Lambeth Palace

The Archbishop of Canterbury welcomed the Primate of the Anglican Church of Korea to Lambeth Palace yesterday.

Archbishop Paul Kim is visiting London and Canterbury with directors from the Christian Broadcasting System of Korea (CBS) to give them a better understanding of the Anglican Communion.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Asia, South Korea

ABC Nightline profiles Seoul, a Plastic Surgery Tourism Hot Spot

Tonight we’re about to take you to the place where hundreds of thousands come every year for a tempting bargain. But is it really worth it?

You’re about to meet a woman who flew 6,000 milines to get what she really wants, but is it worth it? If plastic surgery had a Mecca, it would be the ritzy district of South Korea. Everywhere you look there are women seemingly trying to look like the plastic doll-like plastic people here.

Thousands travel to Korea from all over the globe to go under the knife. I think the results would be here in Korea because they know the asian face better. Reporter: The plastic surgeons in Korea are regarded as among the best in the world that attracts clients like this lady.

Read or watch it all (note the transcript link at the bottom of the page).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, South Korea, Stewardship, Theology, Women, Young Adults

(NYT) A South Korean City With 250 Holes in Its Heart

Nearly three quarters of Danwon [High School]’s 11th graders died two weeks ago in the sinking of a ferry that ranks as one of the country’s deadliest disasters in recent decades.

“I’ve seen these kids grow up. I know each of their faces,” said Mr. Kim[In-jea], 57, who lives nearby and said seven of his neighbors lost their children. “To say that this neighborhood feels empty would be an understatement. This neighborhood feels like a morgue.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Education, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, South Korea, Theology

Absolutely Positively must not miss–The Baby Drop Box Story from the Korean Church

“The Drop Box” – Documentary Trailer from Arbella Studios on Vimeo.

Worth every second of the three minutes of your time it takes to watch–touching, heart-rending, and encouraging–KSH.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Children, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, South Korea, Theology

South Korea Sex Change Doctor– I correct 'God's mistakes'

As Dr. Kim Seok-Kwun begins surgery to create a functioning penis for a Buddhist monk who was born female, he is well aware of the unease his work creates in this deeply conservative country. The devout Protestant known as the “father of South Korean transgender people” once wrestled with similar feelings.

“I’ve decided to defy God’s will,” Kim, 61, said in an interview before the monk’s recent successful surgery to become a man. “At first, I agonized over whether I should do these operations because I wondered if I was defying God. I was overcome with a sense of shame. But my patients desperately wanted these surgeries. Without them, they’d kill themselves.”

Kim is a pioneer in slowly changing views on sexuality and gender in South Korea, where many have long considered even discussions of sexuality a taboo. He has conducted about 320 sex change operations over the past 28 years, widely believed to be the most by any single doctor in the country.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Men, Psychology, Sexuality, South Korea, Theology, Women

(CT) Suicide Bus Bombing Kills South Korean Christians on Holy Land Pilgrimage

A bus full of South Korean Christians who saved money for years in order to visit biblical sites in Egypt and Israel were attacked Sunday by a suicide bomber.

Four people were killed in the bombing, including the Egyptian driver, a church member, and two South Korean guides. At least 14 others were injured, the Associated Press reports.

This is not the first time South Korean Christians have been the target of violence in a foreign country. In 2007, after a 43-day hostage situation left two South Korean missionaries dead in Afghanistan, South Korea subsequently banned citizens from traveling to certain majority-Muslim countries””which proved to be a blessing in disguise for Korean Christians.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Egypt, Evangelicals, Israel, Middle East, Other Churches, South Korea, Violence

Letters to the Editor on the WSJ $4 Million per Year South Korea Teacher Story

Read it all (For those not following this, the original blog post may be found there).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Children, Education, South Korea

(CT) Company with Ties to Pastor whom some see in messianic terms buys Newsweek

…few sites are noting that IBT has significant ties to David Jang, the Korean pastor hailed by some of his followers as a messianic figure, a “Second Coming Christ.”

Christianity Today published two major articles on Jang last year, quoting multiple sources who described an international network with Jang as its spiritual””and sometimes even operational””leader.

Jang has been a controversial figure in Asia since 2008, when a committee of Hong Kong theologians and church leaders “unanimously expressed its serious apprehensions and concerns.” His views and influence continue to be debated in South Korea and in the U.S. And last year, the National Association of Evangelicals appointed a committee to determine “theological compatibility” between the Jang-founded Olivet University and the Southern Baptist Convention’s LifeWay Christian Resources. The findings of that committee have not been publicly released, but after reviewing the committee’s report LifeWay officials withdrew from plans to sell a 2,100-acre New Mexico conference center to the school.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Adult Education, Asia, Media, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, South Korea

(WSJ Saturday Essay) The $4 Million Teacher in South Korea

Kim Ki-hoon earns $4 million a year in South Korea, where he is known as a rock-star teacher””a combination of words not typically heard in the rest of the world. Mr. Kim has been teaching for over 20 years, all of them in the country’s private, after-school tutoring academies, known as hagwons. Unlike most teachers across the globe, he is paid according to the demand for his skills””and he is in high demand.

Mr. Kim works about 60 hours a week teaching English, although he spends only three of those hours giving lectures. His classes are recorded on video, and the Internet has turned them into commodities, available for purchase online at the rate of $4 an hour. He spends most of his week responding to students’ online requests for help, developing lesson plans and writing accompanying textbooks and workbooks (some 200 to date).

“The harder I work, the more I make,” he says matter of factly. “I like that.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Education, South Korea

(Reuters) South Koreans face lonely deaths as Confucian traditions fade

When South Korean widow Yoon Sook-hee, 62, died after a bout of pneumonia in mid-January, she joined a growing number of old people in this Asian country who die alone and was cremated only thanks to the charity of people who never knew her.

Once a country where filial duty and a strong Confucian tradition saw parents revered, modern day South Korea, with a population of 50 million, has grown economically richer, but family ties have fragmented. Nowadays 1.2 million elderly South Koreans, just over 20 percent of the elderly population, live – and increasingly die – alone.

Yoon’s former husband, whom she divorced 40 years ago, relinquished responsibility after being contacted by the hospital and told of her death. Her only son was unreachable as he had long broken off all contact with his parents.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Asia, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, South Korea, Theology

(LA Times) The Top 10 YouTube videos of 2012

South Korean pop sensation Psy’s “Gangnam Style” has become the most-viewed YouTube video of all time, with the infectious music video approaching 1 billion views worldwide.

The wildfire popularity of the four-minute song and dance video, uploaded just six months ago, represents an inflection point for the online video site, as YouTube’s entertainment offerings expand beyond candid homemade videos such as “Charlie Bit My Finger” or such made-for-TV moments as Susan Boyle’s “I Dreamed a Dream” performance from the show “Britain’s Got Talent.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Blogging & the Internet, Globalization, Media, Science & Technology, South Korea

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–The World’s Biggest Congregation

LUCKY SEVERSON, correspondent: There are big churches, and then there’s the Yoido Full Gospel Church here in Seoul, South Korea. It’s the mother of megachurches, with the largest congregation in the world. On a typical day 200,000 will attend one of seven services along with another two or three hundred thousand watching them on TV in adjoining buildings or satellite branches. While some other churches may be losing members, this one just keeps growing. The main sanctuary here holds 21,000 worshipers packed to the rafters seven times every Sunday. Each service has its own orchestra, its own choir, its own pastor. There are hundreds of assistants. There need to be. Each service is translated into 16 different languages for visitors. Karen Kim is a pastor with the church’s international division. She says she was shocked when she first moved here from Australia.

KAREN KIM: I think when you’ve got people this size, like you have to have structure, and you have to have organization, because otherwise people would be getting killed. Like you can’t just let it all just take care of itself. Like there has to be like organized rosters of volunteers and things like that to get people in and out of the service, or these people will literally die and get crushed….

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Parish Ministry, South Korea

Korean Anglicans join opposition to Gangjeong village naval base

The Anglican Church of Korea has lent its voice of opposition to a plan for a new naval base on Jeju island that has prompted protests from other religious and environmental groups.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Asia, South Korea

Korean Bible instructor held following China raid

Chinese police are holding a South Korean Bible instructor and his wife following a raid on an underground Protestant church, an activist group said Wednesday, as the government pressures Christians worshipping outside the Communist-controlled church.

The instructor, whose Chinese name was given as Jin Yongzhe, was detained Tuesday along with dozens of other Christians during a police assault on a three-floor church building in the central province of Henan’s Weishi county, the U.S.-based China Aid Association said.

The church building was searched and thousands of dollars worth of property seized during the raid, which the association said targeted a religious education seminar being held there.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, South Korea

South Korea Probes Possible Cyberattack on Large Bank

Authorities in South Korea are probing a large system failure at a popular bank, trying to determine whether the incident was an error or a cybercrime that could be repeated elsewhere in the country where business leans largely on electronic transactions.

Problems at the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation began on April 12 and lasted for several days. During that time, customers were blocked from online and automated teller machine transactions. While some services have returned, issues persist with access to credit card information.

The incident has generated 300,000 complaints and prompted pledges of compensation to the agricultural lender’s customers as its affected network gets up to speed again this week, local media said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Science & Technology, South Korea, The Banking System/Sector

Christmas tree becomes new Korean flashpoint

A Christmas tree is threatening to become the latest flashpoint between the two Koreas just a day after both sides stepped back from the brink of war.

South Korean marines have been deployed to protect a large Christmas tree on top of a military-controlled hill along the tense land border with the North.

A South Korean church is planning to switch on Christmas lights on the tree later today, the first such display in six years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, North Korea, Religion & Culture, South Korea

Delay in Korea Talks Is Sign of U.S.-China Tension

President Obama and President Hu Jintao of China talked by telephone on Monday about North Korea, culminating 13 days of effort by the White House to persuade China’s leaders to discuss a crisis that many experts fear could escalate into military action.

Administration officials say they have no evidence Mr. Hu was ducking the call, which the Chinese knew would urge them to crack down on their unruly ally, a step Beijing clearly is highly reluctant to take amid a leadership succession in North Korea. White House officials insisted that the long delay was simply the result of scheduling problems.

But in Beijing, both Chinese and American officials and analysts have another explanation: the long silence epitomizes the speed with which relations between Washington and Beijing have plunged into a freeze. This year has witnessed the longest period of tension between the two capitals in a decade. And if anything, both sides appear to be hardening their positions.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, North Korea, South Korea

(Guardian) Wikileaks cables reveal China 'ready to abandon North Korea'

China has signalled its readiness to accept Korean reunification and is privately distancing itself from the North Korean regime, according to leaked US embassy cables that reveal senior Beijing figures regard their official ally as a “spoiled child”.

News of the Chinese shift comes at a crucial juncture after the North’s artillery bombardment of a South Korean island last week that killed four people and led both sides to threaten war. China has refused to condemn the North Korean action. But today Beijing appeared to bow to US pressure to help bring about a diplomatic solution, calling for “emergency consultations” and inviting a senior North Korean official to Beijing.

China is sharply critical of US pressure tactics towards North Korea and wants a resumption of the six-party nuclear disarmament talks. But the Guardian can reveal Beijing’s frustration with Pyongyang has grown since its missile and nuclear tests last year, worries about the economic impact of regional instability, and fears that the death of the dictator, Kim Jong-il, could spark a succession struggle.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Globalization, North Korea, South Korea

Independent: Expats recalled as North Korea prepares for war

A mass exodus of North Korean workers from the Far East of Russia is under way, according to reports coming out of the region. As the two Koreas edged towards the brink of war this week, it appears that the workers in Russia have been called back to aid potential military operations.

Vladnews agency, based in Vladivostok, reported that North Korean workers had left the town of Nakhodka en masse shortly after the escalation of tension on the Korean peninsula earlier this week. “Traders have left the kiosks and markets, workers have abandoned building sites, and North Korean secret service employees working in the region have joined them and left,” the agency reported.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, North Korea, South Korea

North Korea Accuses South of Using Human Shields

North Korea accused South Korea on Saturday of using civilians as human shields around military bases on an island that the North hit with an artillery attack this week. The accusation is an apparent effort to quell South Korean outrage over the barrage, which killed two civilian construction workers.

The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency also issued new warnings about joint United States-South Korea naval exercises in the Yellow Sea off North Korea, which will include an American aircraft carrier.

“If the U.S. brings its carrier to the West Sea of Korea at last, no one can predict the ensuing consequences,” the report said, using the Korean name for the Yellow Sea.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, North Korea, South Korea

A Day After Island Shelling, Seoul Takes Fear in Stride

The forests on distant Yeonpyeong Island were ablaze on Wednesday, one day after a ferocious artillery exchange between North and South Korean military units. But to many residents of Seoul, the violent attack on the tiny island seemed largely contained and unthreatening.

“I was talking with a friend this morning and we wondered why we weren’t more concerned,” a Seoul restaurant owner, Pyun Sung-ja, said on Wednesday. “I guess it’s because the area of the shelling is so far from here. It feels like it happened in another country.”

The artillery exchange that lasted for about an hour on Tuesday afternoon killed two South Korean marines and two civilians who lived on the island, which is about twice the size of New York’s Central Park. The South’s military went on high alert, fighter-bombers were ready on the tarmac and the president plotted strategy with his advisers in the underground Situation Room in Seoul. The incident rattled diplomatic nerves in capitals not only in the region but also around the world. Residents of Seoul, however, seemed to display only a mild anxiety on Wednesday, caught somewhere between calm and dread, and maybe breathing a collective sigh of relief that things had not escalated.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, North Korea, South Korea

(AFP) North Korea fires artillery barrage on South

North Korea fired dozens of artillery shells onto a South Korean island on Tuesday, killing one person, setting homes ablaze and triggering an exchange of fire as the South’s military went on top alert.

In what appeared to be one of the most serious border incidents since the 1950-53 war, South Korean troops fired back with cannon, the government convened in an underground war room and “multiple” air force jets scrambled.

The firing came after North Korea’s disclosure of an apparently operational uranium enrichment programme — a second potential way of building a nuclear bomb — which is causing serious alarm for the United States and its allies.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, North Korea, South Korea

Tabarez admits good fortune played a role in Uruguay Win

Oscar Tabarez admitted luck was on Uruguay’s side as they beat South Korea 2-1 to progress to the quarter-finals.

South Korea hit the post with a Park Cho-Young free-kick early on, but Uruguay were soon ahead through Luis Suarez after some poor defending.

Lee Chung-Yong then scored a deserved equaliser as South Korea dominated the second half, but that sparked a reaction that led to a stunning 80th-minute winner from Suarez.

“It was a difficult game to play and I think our win means more because of this,” Tabarez said. “We were surprised by their play. We wanted to finish the game in the second half. Their goal was key to our win because we improved after that. We showed class in the final minutes and Suarez scored two spectacular goals for us.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Globalization, South Korea, Sports

North Korea Threatens `All-Out Military Strike' on South's Loudspeakers

North Korea warned of an “all-out military strike” to destroy South Korean loudspeakers and other propaganda tools along their fortified border, according to the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency.

South Korea’s preparation for psychological warfare, is a “direct declaration of a war” against the North, the general staff of the communist state’s military said today in a statement on KCNA. The North’s military retaliation may turn Seoul into “a sea of flame,” the statement said.

The South has already installed loudspeakers in 11 places along the border and is attempting to set up electronic displays, according to the statement.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, North Korea, South Korea

U.S. to Join South Korean Military Exercise Off North Korea Coast

The U.S. aircraft carrier USS George Washington will participate in a joint naval exercise with South Korea next week in the Yellow Sea, the same waters west of the Korean peninsula where North Korea is accused of sinking a South Korean warship last March, ABC News has learned.

A U.S. official said the carrier, which operates from its home port in Japan, “will be sent to the waters off South Korea within coming days to participate in joint exercises” with the South Korean navy.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, North Korea, South Korea

NY Times Week in Review: In the Koreas, Five Possible Ways to War

The White House betting is that the latest crisis, stemming from the March attack, will also abate without much escalation. But there is more than a tinge of doubt. The big risk, as always, is what happens if the North Koreans make a major miscalculation. (It wouldn’t be their first. Sixty years ago, Mr. Kim’s father, Kim Il-sung, thought the West wouldn’t fight when he invaded the South. The result was the Korean War.)

What’s more, the dynamic does feel different from recent crises. The South has a hardline government whose first instinct was to cut off aid to the North, not offer it new bribes. At the same time, the North is going through a murky, ill-understood succession crisis.

And President Obama has made it clear he intends to break the old cycle. “We’re out of the inducements game,” one senior administration official, who would not discuss internal policy discussions on the record, said last week. “For 15 years at least, the North Koreans have been in the extortion business, and the U.S. has largely played along. That’s over.”

That may change the North’s behavior, but it could backfire.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, North Korea, South Korea

North Korea says South pushing towards war

North Korea said on Friday the peninsula was heading toward war and it was ready to tear up all agreements with the South after it accused the reclusive state of torpedoing a navy ship near their disputed border.

South Korea said on Thursday it had overwhelming evidence that a North Korean submarine had entered its waters in March and attacked the Cheonan corvette, killing 46 sailors.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, North Korea, South Korea

Melanie Kirlkpatrick: Follow the Neon Crosses to the 'Jerusalem of the East'

South Koreans exulted last week in Kim Yu-na’s matchless performance in Vancouver. So, too, on Sunday, at Yoido Full Gospel Church, where the figure skater, a Roman Catholic, wasn’t mentioned by name but everyone knew whom the pastor was talking about when he lifted up the country’s Olympic athletes in prayer.

Yoido Full Gospel is the mega-est of megachurches. With a membership of more than 850,000, it bills itself as the world’s largest Christian congregation, and that’s probably right. At the 11 o’clock service last Sunday, there were more people in the 120-singer choir than in the entire congregation of the country church I attend in New England.

The church stands on an island in the Han River in central Seoul, not far from the National Legislature. The main sanctuary holds 10,000 people. Nearby are several church-owned buildings, including a high-rise filled with offices, meeting rooms and banquet halls. There are satellite churches elsewhere in Seoul and around the country.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, South Korea