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Archive for the tag “North Korea”

Hope Transfigured: Crusading Koreans?

Hope Transfigured: Crusading Koreans?:

With Korea now sending more cross-cultural missionaries than any other country outside the US (so Julie claimed) their missiology and methodology must be significant. I was struck by how many times Julie spoke of the Korean mindset as ‘crusading’ – ouch!! – but she’s right in many respects. Another colleague later talked of Korean missionaries as being ‘modern’ (rational, linear, success oriented, goal setting) and therefore finding it difficult to address pre- and post-modern mission contexts.

When I read this paragraph in Mark Oxbrow’s blog (I met Mark at the conference of the International Association of Mission Studies – IAMS – at Hammanskraal in 2000) I briefly wondered what might have caused Korean missionaries to become “modern”, and then I remembered the Haggai Institute.

I attended a mission training course at the Haggai Institute in Singapore in May 1985. It lasted a month, and there were people there from nineteen different countries, including four South Africans. The aim was to train third-world leaders in mission methods in such a way that they could return to their own countries and train others. And one of the things that characterised the traning was that it was modern — rational, linear, success-oriented, goal setting. I found the training quite useful, though some parts were more useful than others.

The teaching was done by various people, from different backgrounds. Some of was informational — for example on religions like Islam and Hinduism. Some was academic — a sociology lecturer from the University of Singapore taught several classes. Some were practical “how to” lessons — one taught about writing, preparing manuscripts for publication, using audiovisual media (especially where there was no mains electricity) and so on. Some were more theological — on the Biblical basis and theology of missions. And some were a bit like motivational speakers, and the modernity was especially apparent in what they said.

I wouldn’t knock that either, however. I found it useful, not so much for setting goals myself (I tend not to work like that) but for questioning the goals of activities proposed by others and even me. Step-by-step goal-setting and working everything out on paper beforehand just isn’t my style, but it can be useful when someone comes up with an idea that sounds impressive until one tries to determine the goal behind it, and then suddenly it become clear that there are many better ways of reaching that goal, and that the activity proposed might actually be counterproductive in reaching the stated goal. And if people persist in pursuing the proposed couse of action, one then needs to look for an UNstated goal. An example (with which most people are no doubt familiar) is the US invasion of Iraq. What was it intended to achieve? What did the initiators SAY it was intended to achieve? Was it the best way of achieving what they SAID they wanted to achieve? And with hindsight, what did it actually achieve.

That may seem remote from a mission goal, but remember that at one point George Bush said “mission accomplished” — so what was the mission, and was it accomplished?

But that is an illustration. The questions about it are rhetorical, so please don’t try to answer them in comments!

The point here is that goal-setting is part of the modern approach that characterises Korean missionaries. And a bit strange, that, too, talking of “Korean missionaries”. Because they are all, I am fairly sure, SOUTH Korean missionaries. I have my doubts that NORTH Korean missionaries, if any, take that approach.

When I was at the Haggai Institute there was one person there from South Korea, Byung Jae Jeong. We were the 85th and 86th session, so if there was an average of one South Korean for every two sessions, by that stage the Haggai Institute would have trained about 43 from South Korea. Each of them was supposed to train 100 others, so that would be about 4300 South Koreans trained in modern methods.

I don’t think that the Haggai Institute was alone in training people from Asian, African and South American countries in the use of modern methods, but it can illustrate the way in which others may have offered similar training.

In this, perhaps one can see Christianity as acting as a kind of agent of modernity in South Korea, and perhaps other Asian countries, and possibly in Africa and Latin America as well.

And using the training in goal setting I received from the Haggai Institute, I ask: what are the intended and unintended consequences of this?

Fearful pride: North Korea’s WMD

After all the media hype about North Korea’s second nuclear test, here’s an article worth reading.

CounterPunch: Fearful pride:

So, what does the DPRK leadership hope to gain by brandishing nuclear arms? The DPRK leadership’s deepest desire is that of all elites everywhere: a long-term guarantee of its privileged position within the undisturbed extent of its domain. The DPRK wants to interact with the rest of the world in a way that sustains the physical and economic existence of their state but without introducing any ideas or social forces that weaken the control of the DPRK leadership, and the fealty of the population to that leadership. Clearly, the present DPRK regime is skeptical it can follow the Chinese example of introducing a state-directed form of capitalism while maintaining ideological control and sufficient popular obedience, so it is resistant to allowing the population wider exposure to foreign influences. The DPRK nuclear arsenal is the equivalent of a 10 foot (3.3 m) high wall topped with glass shards surrounding an estate with Pit Bulls and Doberman Pinschers running loose. It is a shield built with pride and motivated by fear.

And it seems to me that the countries that demand that North Korea abstain from developing weapons of mass destruction without dismantling their own nuclear arsenals are probably also motivated by fearful pride.

Kim gets religion – Orthodox Church in North Korea

According to Der Spiegel (August 11, 2006) a Russian Orthodox Church has been opened in North Korea.

There’s also a blog comment: Russian Orthodox Find Support from Kim Jong-Il

This raises a number of questions — is Kim Jong Il emulating St Prince Vladimir? If so, will he likewise show a change in his manner of ruling? Will he be baptised? Will he allow his subjects to be baptised? Or will it just be a kind of showpiece?

There are other precedents too — we can but pray.

More reports:

Pravda has a brief report.

The Guardian has a longer report, quoting North Korean official sources.

The Raw Story suggests that the church will be primarily for the use of Russian diplomats and other visiting Russians, but in that case, why go to the length of training Korean clergy??

But this is also the tenor of a somewhat older report from Keston College when the church was first mooted.

None of the reports say what language will be used in the services, though from the last two it seems they will probably be in Slavonic or Russian, and would not be of much help to locals who attend.

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