PROLOGUE: THE BROTHERHOOD MUST BE RECOVERED
I, the writer, am a pastor who ministered in Uzbekistan from 1997 to 2004, in Kazakstan from 2005 to 2015 and currently serving as coach for North Korea’s youth with disabilities soccer team. I accompanied the team 4 times to the Asian Para Games, 2 times to the Paralympic Games and World Football Championships.
In August 2012, I noticed Lim Ju Sung, the London Paralympic Games wild card participant’s hand gestures. Back then, I was not familiar with mission to North Korea or interested in the concept of Korea’s re-unification. However, I heard the Spirit’s voice through Lim’s hand gestures and recognized the need to create the North Korean Soccer team for disabilities. In response to God’s calling and in obedience to it, I visited North Korea in December 2012 and started the disability ministry to North Korea.
Since then, I became more familiar with terms like Korean peninsula, 38th parallel line, 38 North and South, along with an analogical understanding that Korea is like a disabled country with its “waist” cut off.
December 3, 2012, the Lord spoke to me with John Chapter 5 in a hotel in Haebang Mountain Hotel in Pyongyang. I felt an overlap of Korea’s divided land with a man who has been an invalid for 38 years in Bethesda. I realized that the Korean peninsula is an invalid, disabled country with no communication due to its cut off “waist”.
Believers simply can’t ignore God’s calling. We consider reunification of the two countries to be an absolute calling by the Lord. However, is reunification truly His calling? Most Korean pastors consider our hope to see North and South Korea as one and undivided, united to be in alignment with God’s calling and act accordingly as one nation. Pastor Hee-gon Eun from the Southern Methodist Church says the following:
“Because we are Koreans and we live in one and only separated nation on earth, even if we try hiding away from the situation, we cannot and should not face the difficulties in achieving the peaceful re-unification of North and South Korea. Moreover, for believers living in South Korea, the mission to North Korea is considered as our inevitable task.”
We all say we dream of the re-unification for North and South Korea despite the future’s vague possibility. The problem is, the more we proclaim for re-unification, the further away we get from achieving it. This is as if a divorced (formerly married) couple is adamant about getting back together though they are separated. The conflict is augmented since the two have different personalities and hold different values, but forcefully tries to get back together. Additionally, the neighbors (USA, China, Japan, and Russia) join in the discussion, complicating the situation. But amidst the complications, President Park’s ‘Re-unification, the Jackpot’ allows the public to reckon as if the possibilities for re-unification is higher than it is.
I believe the issue of re-unification should be tackled in two ways. One is socio-cultural re-unification and the other is the political re-unification. The first is a matter of reconciliation of the brotherhood and the latter deals with the reunification of a single nation. Normally, the latter is referred when discussing about re-unification. While the first prioritizes mutual respect and peaceful co-existence of the two nations, the latter prioritizes the building of one nation. Meanwhile, what kind of political system will be chosen in the future, has been a dire point of contention since establishing a single nation was placed as the foremost priority in the reunification conversation. The possibilities for reunification became more distant due to such desire to decide between democracy and communism in order to settle the two nations under one system. Such view into the issue makes one side to inevitably surrender to another.
For this reason, the North and South Korea are both in a transition stage of reconsidering the process towards re-unification. North Korea’s Low Level of Federation Proposal and South Korea’s The Korean Commonwealth Proposal are some of the examples.
South Korea’s solution, ‘Confederation Korea’ includes a stage when two nations exist with two different political systems and work towards achieving one nation and one political system. This approach is problematic since it dismisses the fact that the South aims for democracy while the North desires to remain a socialist nation. This method will let the two nations suspect antagonistic intention of one another. Before approaching societal-cultural reconciliation, a political rivalry will be formed.
Therefore, one must plead re-unification to be dealt with the former approach first before the latter one. Re-unification can be much achieved through simply recovering the brotherhood. This attitude is a more effective way of achieving re-unification. Let’s stop a war of attrition and strive towards practical approach to re-unification.
Let’s refer back to the main question once again: is the reunification of North and South Korea truly the Lord’s calling? I insist the recovery of brotherhood to align with Biblical calling, though a single national form of re-unification must carry some Biblical evidences.
Take a look at the Old Testament. There was a time when Israel was divided into North and South. In 931 BC, when Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, was ruling Israel, the nation split into South Judah and North Israel. This separation lasted for 209 years until Assyria overpowered them in 722 BC. However, there was no king, citizen nor prophet who stepped out to proclaim re-unification. Even though Israel was God’s chosen people, they did not put any effort towards living out God’s calling and thus God stopped their efforts to grow towards re-unification. Rehoboam tried attacking the Northern kingdom with 180,000 soldiers while ten tribes were left. That is when Shemaiah, inspired by God, dissuaded him. The story is written as below in the Bible:
21 When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he mustered all Judah and the tribe of Benjamin—a hundred and eighty thousand able young men—to go to war against Israel and to regain the kingdom for Rehoboam son of Solomon.
22 But this word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God: 23 “Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah, to all Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, 24 ‘This is what the LORD says: Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.” So they obeyed the word of the LORD and went home again, as the LORD had ordered. — NIV 1 Kings 12:21-24
Thus, this meant that a bloody war between brothers should not occur. Moreover, the division was God’s decision according to Solomon’s wrongdoing, which served the Lord’s purpose. Rehoboam followed the prophet in obedience to God and retreated. Of course there were some local fights, but no full-scale war between Judah and Israel. There was even an inter-marriage between them.
Then Rezin, the king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel marched up to fight against Jerusalem and besieged Ahaz, but they could not overpower him. And Oded, the prophet, rebuked Israel.
“In one day Pekah son of Remaliah killed a hundred and twenty thousand soldiers in Judah—because Judah had forsaken the LORD, the God of their ancestors. 7 Zikri, an Ephraimite warrior, killed Maaseiah the king’s son, Azrikam the officer in charge of the palace, and Elkanah, second to the king. 8 The men of Israel took captive from their fellow Israelites who were from Judah two hundred thousand wives, sons and daughters. They also took a great deal of plunder, which they carried back to Samaria.
9 But a prophet of the LORD named Oded was there, and he went out to meet the army when it returned to Samaria. He said to them, “Because the LORD, the God of your ancestors, was angry with Judah, he gave them into your hand. But you have slaughtered them in a rage that reaches to heaven. 10 And now you intend to make the men and women of Judah and Jerusalem your slaves. But aren’t you also guilty of sins against the LORD your God? 11 Now listen to me! Send back your fellow Israelites you have taken as prisoners, for the LORD’s fierce anger rests on you.”
12 Then some of the leaders in Ephraim—Azariah son of Jehohanan, Berekiah son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah son of Shallum, and Amasa son of Hadlai—confronted those who were arriving from the war. 13 “You must not bring those prisoners here,” they said, “or we will be guilty before the LORD. Do you intend to add to our sin and guilt? For our guilt is already great, and his fierce anger rests on Israel.”
14 So the soldiers gave up the prisoners and plunder in the presence of the officials and all the assembly. 15 The men designated by name took the prisoners, and from the plunder they clothed all who were naked. They provided them with clothes and sandals, food and drink, and healing balm. All those who were weak they put on donkeys. So they took them back to their fellow Israelites at Jericho, the City of Palms, and returned to Samaria. — NIV 2 Chronicles 28:6-15
The Southern and Northern kingdoms were in brotherly relationship. The Lord insisted to let them be reminded of their brotherly bond than to see the nations be re-unified. After the Northern kingdom perished, its leaders were deported to another location where other ethnic groups exist, following Asshur’s colonial policy. The rest of the leaders assimilated to the Kingdom of Judah. Only the poor Israelites remained in Samaria, where other immigrants settled and eventually become a conglomerate of diverse ethnic groups. Southern Judah perishes in 586 BC because Babylon defeated them and some of Judah’s leaders became its captives.
In 538 BC, the captives of Babylon returned through the order of King Cyrus, and built an altar in 515 BC. In 445 BC, they built a Jerusalem rampantly. In this process, the influences in Samaria area requested the return of the closed Judah community to join the church. However, the Judaean community refused and thus created the Samarian religion. The Samarian religion built an altar in Mt. Gerizim and acknowledged only the Law of Moses. The Judean community and Samarian religious power were in a feud and in conflict. The Gospel of John described such relationship vividly. The Judeans hated the Samaritans to the extent that they did not want to pass the road through Samaria in their journey between Galilee and Judea, though it was the shortest route. Jesus broke such notion of taboo, conversed with and converted a Samaritan woman. Jesus moreover proposed “the Spirit and the truth” that substantiates the Jerusalem altar and the altar at Mt. Gerizim.
Samaria became the Lord’s third commanded location for mission according to the Book of Acts: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (NIV Acts 1:8). Samaria became a part of the Church through Philip’s evangelism. Ultimately it was Jesus and the early Christian Church that initiated the reconciliation between Judeans and Samaritans.
God’s main concern in the ancient history of Israel was not to insist on a re-unified oneness of the two forces through the current political systems, but was on restoring the psychological division within the brotherhood. Ezekiel’s vision is often talked about in discussion regarding the re-unification of Korea. Ezekiel was one of the prophets in the Babylonian captive regions. God promised Ezekiel that the two kingdoms will become one through a vision. “The word of the LORD came to me: 16 “Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, ‘Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.’ Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, ‘Belonging to Joseph (that is, to Ephraim) and all the Israelites associated with him.’ 17 Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand.
18 “When your people ask you, ‘Wouldn’t you tell us what you mean by this?’ 19 say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim’s hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick. I will make them into a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.’ 20 Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on 21 and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. 22 I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms.” (NIV Ezekiel 37: 15-22). This is surely a vision that foresees re-unification that completes one ethnicity under one system.
However, the emphasis of this vision is not on the re-unification itself but on the restoration of Israel. It could be considered a calling for re-unification if this vision appeared during the mitotic period of the North and South, but since it appeared 150 years after the northern kingdom perished, the emphasis relies more heavily on the means of restoration than re-unification. The division of the nation must have dispersed the power and caused an embarrassing scandal in front of other nations. A nation that restores again must dream of rebuilding a strong power that won’t fall, just like from the Davidic period.
It is not an ultimate solution for an ethnic group to achieve a unified one nation. The Bible is concerned with striving toward a brotherly reconciliation than a systematic re-unification. The Scripture teaches that the ethnic division and discriminations must be resolved and reconciled. Jesus did so as well. Ephesians 2:14-16 sites, “or he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.” Jesus broke the moral and psychological wall between the immigrants and Judeans, yet did not contribute in making them into a single nation under same politics. Even though our bodies are tied in with a national and ethnic identity, within God’s presence, our souls transcend such border between nations. From North Korean to African brothers, we are all one in Christ.
The kind of re-unification that the Bible testifies and prioritizes is the restoration of brotherhood, and it may be considered a perpetual division. The political-societal re-unification, the Bible does not testify about, is also a decision that can’t only be made by the people’s will. If re-unification happens, it would be the gift from the Lord. People can only do their best in resolving the mistrust among them and act on brotherly love during the process. “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (Hebrews 13:16). Re-unification that prioritizes the restoration of brotherly love contributes efficiently to what re-unification truly means, apart from the resistance and the ideals that the re-unification theory follows to prioritize on building one nation. Through pressing on the recovery of brotherhood of two nations, let us come closest to the means of true re-unification.
The East and West Germany’s re-unification is a good example. The Basic Treaty (Grundlagenvertrag) that was set in 1972 became a foundation for the East and West’s exchange in communication. Building on this foundation, in 1976, the East and West Germany accomplished Abkommen über Post- und Fernmeldewesen. From here on, other exchanges came alive. Western Germany forwarded towards ostpolitik without even mentioning the word “re-unification” in its vocabulary. Chancellor Brandt accepted one ethnicity and two nations system. He pushed forward to pondering the dignity of the men and one’s inner life while believing that re-unification will eventually happen in the far away future. From 1972 to 1989, West Germany supported East Germany for 53.5 billion US dollars until re-unification was achieved. For civilians, 38.5 billion US dollars was spent. Within a span of 1 year, in 1987, 1.5 million West Germans visited East Germany, sent over 75 million letters and 24 million packages to East Germany while 95 million letters and 9 million packages were delivered to West Germany. During these years, more than 70% of East Germans were watching West German television. The East-West Germany’s ostpolitik focused on restoring the brotherhood, a policy that concentrated on humanitarianism, recovering human rights, and normalizing relations. Re-unification came easier after the brotherhood was restored.
THE TASK OF RE-UNIFICATION THEOLOGY
1. Overcoming Ideological Segregation of the Korean Church
The Korean church is more concerned with ideological argument than putting its effort to recovering the brotherhood of the two nations. The following is a statement from the Prayer Meeting for North Koreans and North Korean defectors.
“The North Korean government is like a pseudo-religion… When I was asked by a North Korean defector “How do you go sightseeing when fellow citizens are dying out of poverty?,”, I responded, “Then what else should I do.” Then he said, “we should invade the North. So we can turn our guns towards their back,” We must not help the North Korean government but help fellow North Korean people. It’s hard to understand how this happens when anyone with a common sense would know this. Fighting against communism is like fighting Satan, the antichrist. We must pray for all the pro-communism anti-Americans and Kim Jung Eun to be destroyed.
Such perspective of Pastor Kim is the normal perspective among most conservative Christians. Senior leaders and members of CCK (Christian Council of Korea) make up this congregation. They distinguish the North Korean government apart from North Korean people. They define the North Korean government as something to be destroyed and that they are evil, while believing the North Korean people need their help. However, it is wrong to distinguish and consider the people apart from their government. North Korea is inwardly intrinsic with self-reliance ideology while proclaiming an anti-American sense outwardly. Even if it were to study the people separate from the government, it is impossible to do so when the people are thoroughly restricted by the political system. If we were to continue holding onto this skewed view of North Korea, re-unification will only occur through absorption unification or through a war.
It is also problematic to consider the North Korean government as a “never changing group of evil.” North Korea is changing. There is a Christian organization called Christian Federation of North Korea, with over 12,000 Christian believer members, two official Christian churches and 520 house churches present in the nation. Though the information is difficult to be verified, a North Korean missions organization, Opendoors, states that there are 540 underground churches and around 500,000 believers in North Korea. Government-patronized or not, it is true that North Korea is changing its attitude towards religions. North Korea’s self-reliance ideology is a step behind Marxism-Leninism’s aggressive materialist’s criticism and it is evolving towards accepting the positive sides of religions. Persecution of religion does still exist, and it will be impossible for open communication if we were to define the government as evil. There is a story in Luke 15 with a very important message that Christ even repeats it three times in different metaphors. The story is about how to treat the neighbors, whether to see them as evil or lost ones. Eventually it is the Father’s heart to find the lost. Throughout time, people change, governments change and ideologies change. The Korean church must be more flexible in its attitude towards the North Korean government.
Recently, some member pastors of North Korea’s Christian Federation of North Korea who attended a meeting with 34 church leaders over the world gathered together in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss about the peaceful reconciliation between North and South Korea.
The truth is, the Korean church’s anti-North Korean understanding developed a long time ago. The root of South Korean Christianity is grounded in anti-communism. The majority of North Korean Christianity comes from North Korea’s West-North forces (Pyungan-do, Hwanghae-do). Before the liberation, Presbyterians ruled about third fourths of the entire Chosun Christians. Among the Presbyterians, 60% were ruled by the West-North forces. Pyongyang was so called “the Jerusalem of Asia.” Right after the liberation, the conflict with communism and land reform problems led around 70-80 thousand Christians (opinion of former Director of Department of Re-unification, ROK) to cross over to South Korea. This is about 25-40% of the entire number of North Korean Christians, 200 thousand, at the time. They were anti-communists who were persecuted under the Communist regime. The Korean War initiated their convictions even more. On June 15, 1953, the Prayer Meeting for Re-unification hosted by NCCK in Busan, gathered over 10 thousand Christian believers. The following statement is from that occasion:
“The South Korean government and South Koreans must come to an agreement and go against the armistice at Panmunjeom. Korea’s reunification must not occur through a soft-line policy with communism but by defeating communism. Communism is evil, never able to repent.”
In looking through history, it is easier to understand the recent conservative Christians’ anti-North Korea, anti-communism prayer meeting happenings and North Korea Human-rights prayer meetings. Reconciliation between brothers cannot be settled if we start revisiting the wrongdoings that the others did in the past. It is not just the others who did wrong, but we also did something wrong. It is about time we move forward. We move from what happened in the past and leave them as history for the future generations to come. Perhaps it is our hope that the younger generations who did not experience the June 25 war will stand in authority and initiate re-unification, since it is difficult for those hurting from the war to try reconciling because the wounds of the past have not been healed yet.
Separation and ideological confrontation does not simply end. The problem relies on the fact that the Church forgets about God’s words because of ideology. Which side you take is considered to be more relevant than considering justice and ethics. Unjust actions are acceptable and forgiven as long as they were done from the same side. The ethical insensibility caused by the separation is one of the main reasons why the church cannot build its own strength to reform. Biblical moral values such as love and forgiveness are crippled in front of ideological confrontation.
The Korean church must go back to our Father’s Words. We must read not only the story of Elijah and Baal on Mount Carmel, but also the command to love our enemies written in the Sermon on the Mount. 34“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” —NIV John 13:34-35.
The Lord’s command that the Korean church today must follow is to love their neighbors. Who would be able to consulate and recover the torn spirit if but by the Korean church? The church should spearhead to restore brotherhood than spearheading the conservative power. In so doing, the church must be ready to sacrifice anything. Christians’ aim should not be to compete with the political system or to build a single-race nation. The aim is to restore the brotherhood and rebuild the North Korean church.
Therefore, first and foremost, we must reconstruct our understanding of reunification through the Bible and second, we must overcome the Korean church’s outlook on reunification and return to the Word of God.
2. Separation Between Religion and Politics
Faith and politics within the Korean church has been muddled up. This is evident in looking at the Sunday pulpit. There is no caution in judging what is inappropriate from appropriate statements regarding faith from that of a political statement. A minister’s personal thoughts should not be proclaimed along God’s words when standing on the holy pulpit to engage in issues that brings different opinions among church members. The dignity and honor of the pulpit is declining because of such confusion in between statements.
This applies to the liberals too. In 1988, NCCK made a historical declaration called “The Declaration of Korean Churches for the National Unification and Peace.” It was a historically crucial declaration since it was the very first organized unification declaration by the Korean church and also it was made when the unification discussion on government level was exclusively being discussed. The declaration made a substantial influence in the societal climate, but it also received criticisms from the conservative side because it mentioned the withdrawal of the U.S. Armed Forces from the Korean peninsula. For the church to refer to a politically controversial issue in the declaration was a questionable notion. The church may proclaim statements for national reconciliation according to biblical principles, but it is not the Church’s concern to mention a specific, politically-motivated actions. The question with the withdrawal of the U.S. Armed Forces is a political problem that should be judged based on Korea’s real situation and its solution is not written on the Bible. Controversial and political issues must not be publicly declared under the name of the church.
Spreading faith and politics and imposing one’s personal political perspective through the name of faith had been happening over time in history. The principle of separation of church and state is a primary example. The separation of government and religion hampered the Christian students in the 80’s. Christian students at the time considered what would Jesus do in their shoes under dictatorship: protesting against the political oppression against military’s tear gas that overwhelmed university campuses. The seniors in the church persuaded these young Christians quoting Romans 13, grounded in the principle of separation of church and state and saying how politics and faith is divided, and must obey the authority in all times. To them, they believed it was God’s will for the people to obey even the military dictatorship. Young Christians became skeptical towards the church for this reason and left Christianity to engage in political movements.
In the 2000s, the opposite of the activities done in the 1980s happened. Those who used to dissuade us in engaging with political movements are now on the streets protesting. They criticize the government on Sunday pulpits and host prayer meetings in front of the Seoul city hall to admonish the current situation. Do these actions go against the principle of separation of the church and state that believes in obedience to all authorities?
Ultimately, it is evitable that they were misquoting the Word only to make arguments with their personal ideas. In the past, they referred to Romans 13 for they were on the side of the government. But now, they are against the current government and act as to defend the conservative force to fight for Truth and against the darkness by using concepts like “darkness,” “confusion,” “economics,” and “left-leaning.” The Bible does not speak of such issues, but these are merely personal opinions.
Political hues must be separated from religion. Believers should remain purely as believers. Putting efforts to join politics and religion together is a liberal-Christians’ task. The liberal Christians also face the same issue. In fact, the politically engaged civilians in the 70s-80s in Korea were liberal Christians. The Church was the only legally-safe place where liberal Christians were able to lead the pro-democracy and human rights movements under the oppressive dictatorship. However, as the social movements such as students and labor movements and civil movements started developing, the stance of liberal Christianity became unclear since those movements developed. It was difficult to consider as neither Christian campaign nor social movement and therefore, lost its leadership status.
Campaigns develop when it does its job. Each campaign has its own property and context of influence, such as labor, through-labor campaigns and environment, through-environment campaigns. The society takes a step forward only when each factors of the society takes ownership in fighting its good fight. Christian campaign is founded in the context of Christianity. Without the context of religion, it cannot be defined as a Christian campaign. For Christianity, the Bible is the text and the church is the site. The methodology is exemplified by Jesus Christ. A campaign that dismisses the foundation of the Church and its traditions can’t hold influence. For this reason, the liberal Christianity must grapple with God’s words in a deeper level and try accepting that the church is its site.
3. Realistic Methodology and Presentation of Alternative
In modern society, it is difficult to separate the property of influence that religion has, to that of politics. Participation is a political action and so is silence an act of politics. Any action carries a political meaning. However, the goal that faith carries is different from what the world of politics asks for. The goal of the church is to build God’s kingdom. Biblical values and logic work in God’s kingdom. Building a nation of love and peace, justice and people’s equality, protection of human rights , order of creation, provisions of hope and salvation— this is the kind of nation we strive to build. For this reason we may band together with other social groups.
However, the church does not prioritize the actualization of God’s kingdom on earth as its number one priority. For the Church, their first aim is to live according to His kingdom’s calling. Slavery and patriarchy existed during the Apostle Paul’s lifetime. However, Paul never mentioned about issues like reformation in the system. Yet Paul introduced the slave Onesimus to his fellow brother in Christ Philemon and so was breaking slavery within the Church.
16 “no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.
17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.” —NIV Philemon 1:16-18
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. —NIV Galatians 3:28
Slavery and discrimination of gender cannot be found from the biblical reference from above. Like this, the world starts changing when the church first and foremost start living out the values according to His kingdom’s law. The change in system happens when people who follow his Kingdom value increase its influence in the society.
Jesus Christ is the believers’ model for understanding how to tackle societal problems. Jesus refused to follow ‘an eye for an eye’ ideology. If anyone slaps one cheek, turn to them the other cheek also, was Jesus’ way of handling difficult relationships. Jesus said to love the enemy and pray for those who persecute you. While the world tries ruling by reigning in power, faith calls one to serve and to be humble in front of the cross. Believers recognize evil as evil. However, believers do not have the right to stop evil with evil. Jesus taught us to fight evil with kindness and love. The church must accept anyone, even murderers, if only they repent because Jesus accepted us, the worst sinners of sinners.
Societal injustice must be confronted and changed. However, the way God eliminates injustice is different from Caesar’s way. While Caesar followed the principle of “eye for an eye”, God’s way is through self-sacrifice and forgiveness. While Caesar pinpointed one’s wrongdoing, God bore one’s wrongdoings and died on the cross Himself. Injustice cannot be resolved through hatred but through love and peace.
The biblical theology of reunification should not only suggests ways of doing certain movements, but should teach a theology that the church can follow to achieve re-unification and restoration. Although the church tended to be overtly political in their past actions, there must be suggestions and realistic plans that could restore brotherhood to create a united spirit especially for the believers.
PRESENTATION OF ALTERNATIVE ON RE-UNIFICATION THEOLOGY
1. Practice the Theology of Joseph
The important attitudes we need to have in restoring the brotherhood are forgiveness and acceptance. Joseph from the Bible can be considered in thinking what real forgiveness means. The favored son from 12 brothers, Joseph’s dramatic life story takes up quite a big portion, more than any other characters in comparison, from the book of Genesis.
God calls Abraham and says,
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.” – NIV Genesis 12:2-3.
Nevertheless, towards the end of his life, Abraham only possessed Ephron’s field in Machpelah near Mamre to set a funeral for his wife, Sarah (Gen 23). God’s kingdom started out with one person in Canaan through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Lord kept them from flourishing. It was God’s plan to allow Joseph to suffer and get sold out to Egypt. God’s plan was all for the people to be saved from famine.
God chose Joseph for his chosen people, the Israelites. If Joseph didn’t exist, Jacob’s family could have left the land of Canaan during the famine. God sent Joseph to Egypt first so later Jacob’s family can stay in Canaan, at Egypt’s Goshen. And Joseph’s tragedy was a part of God’s plan to keep Israel’s bloodline.
It is worth studying the life of Joseph in discussing re-unification theology. It is not because of his high position in Egypt nor his visions, but because of Joseph’s forgiving spirit. Brothers threw him to the pit, got him sold as a slave to Egypt, went to prison under false accusations, fellow prisoners forgetting the ways he helped them, and so on. Joseph went through struggles and experienced unfortunate events one after another. After all, these were all done because of God’s sovereign plan to make Joseph possess a forgiving heart.
Joseph could have put Potiphar’s wife and the chief baker under punishment once he gained power. He also could have asked his brothers to pay him apology. However, Joseph didn’t. In fact Joseph spoke to his brothers kindly,
“And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance .8So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.”—NIV Genesis 45:5-8
In order to love our enemies, we must forgive them out of love. Hannah Arendt wrote, “Hannah Arendt finds in it the healing powers which enable to liberate from the plight of the “irreducible“ past. Because forgiveness is not only an ability to live together in the present without getting caught up in the past, but also is an act of breaking the chains of hatred and human malice. Therefore, forgiveness is a reconciling act of Christian burdens and living under the wounds of war and division. That is nothing but the missional act of proclaiming at the center of the divided world and evangelizing the gospel of the cross of Christ.” Likewise, we need the spirit of Joseph — a spirit of forgiveness out of love.
2. Five Ways to Actively Prepare for Re-unification
In summary, the goal for re-unification should be to restore brotherhood between the two nations, it is to give love and forgiveness to one another. The approach used for re-unification, from the very start, since the separation of the two nations, aims for reunifying the two into one nation. This approach has caused more conflict and confusion.
The Bible prioritizes re-unification that restores brotherhood through love and forgiveness first and foremost. Likewise, the re-unification theology should suggest realistic methods and ways for true re-unification that will improve the relational aspects of the North and South by re-establishing a better understanding of re-unification, denounce the Korean church’s “anti-North Korean ideologies”, and differentiate what’s politics from religion. Here are five ways to actively prepare to participate for a true reunification.
1) Prayer and Fasting for Re-unification
Let us have a Prayer and fasting every first day of the month for re-unification. It is an exaggeration to say we should think of those hungry while fasting, though as we fast and experience poverty in glimpses of one or two meals, or even a full day fasting, we will grow our hearts to yearn for those who are hungry in North Korea every month. “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” —NIV Isaiah 58:6
2) Worship Service for Re-unification
Amidst the modernized services these days, we desperately need to worship God through services that specifically cry out to our Emmanuel for re-unification. More than anything, the Korean diaspora churches all across the globe should encourage us to set a time and date to pray about re-unification so we can have a united spirit to ask God’s presence to reign over the olden days’ Jerusalem of Asia, Pyongyang.
3) Reading the North Korean Version of the Bible
While language difference between the North and South Korea is creating more barriers between the two nations, reading the Bible, just a chapter of Psalms for example, out loud in North Korean language would contribute towards true re-unification. Let’s practice meditating upon God’s words in North Korean language. Let’s kindle and bring fire on re-unification. “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” —NIV Luke 12:49
4) Piggy Bank for Re-unification
Like how South Koreans overcame the IMF crisis through the “gathering of gold movement,” we must support re-unification by saving pennies in our coin banks. This small effort will help to strengthen the health of Korea.
5) Re-unification Troops
We need to prepare towards re-unification by nurturing and growing people with strong faith, who are ready to work for His kingdom once re-unification happens. People who are willing to sacrifice their lives for the re-unification call, and people whom God sees as precious as pearls in this world.
People who practices the five ways towards re-unification listed above are qualified to be members of the Re-unification Troops.
People who say, “Re-unification is coming,” are the prophets for re-unification. People who say, “Let’s pray for re-unification,” are testifiers for re-unification.
We need prophets, testifiers and strategists for re-unification today. We need an anointed Re-unification Troops from God’s kingdom. To win the race, we need to practice. If we truly long to be re-unified, we must practice re-unification. Many Korean organizations which wanted to have a Gospel-centered re-unified Korea should do bigger tasks and aim for bigger goals. Let us hope for God’s presence to reign and prove Korea to be a nation God calls for missions. The disabled in North Korea, who had personal and first-hand experience of restored brotherhood, are the first seeds who received God’s love and blessings from their South Korean and Christian brothers around the world, and in return these seeds will be planted in the North Korean land to show God’s love in North Korea.
CONCLUSION: THE DISABLED LEADING THE DISABLED NATION!
Spending time with the North Korean disabled soccer team is indeed the Lord’s calling. I sought much about what the Bible says on re-unification, and through allegorical interpretation of the Bible, I put efforts into understanding the meaning of the 38th parallel line in the Old Testament and New Testament.
After Exodus, through the covenant with God, the people received God’s law and lived 38 years in the wilderness around Mount Sinai. When the people reached Kadesh Barnea before entering Canaan, they send out 12 explorers to look out for God’s promised land for 40 days. God made an extreme decision following such mistrustful act by the people. Only Joshua, Caleb and the children of Enoch, who testified their faith to God through solely trusting in His providence, are able to enter into the land of Canaan.
The rest of the 10 explorers thought they need to act beyond following and believing God’s promise. As if to punish their lack of faith, they spent 38 years in Kadesh Barnea out in the wilderness. It was solely because of those 10 men who didn’t fully trusted God that led the entire people to suffer.
In John 5, a disabled was living in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda. When Jesus comes by and asked, “do you want to get well?” the sick does not answer by saying “yes,” but says “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” To such unbelieving patient, Jesus says, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”
The 38th parallel line between South and North Korea: Korea —the separated nation, a disabled nation with its waist paralyzed. I hope and pray that the 38th parallel line no longer hardens and settles the separation. Above all things, humanism is the antichrist in these final days, because the believers toil more than ever to show righteousness. In August 2014, Pope Francis visited South Korea. The Pope was present but Jesus wasn’t. In this day and age, we need troops from God’s kingdom. We need people who are able to carry the cross to follow Jesus and act in brotherly love. The five ways of participating in reunification are fasting, worship, reading the North Korean Bible, saving for reunification and nurturing God’s kingdom-minded people. If the cross illustrates a plus sign (Jesus’ cross), the act for brotherly love resembles a multiplication sign (my cross). Matthew 16:24 says, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Like how Wooyoung Chung of Hyundai walked across the ceasefire line with 1001 cows in August, 1998, I want to cross the boarder with people on wheelchairs and people using white canes holding hands together, to establish a no longer disabled, but a healed nation. In 2015, the 70th year since the separation of the two nations, will be the first year towards a peaceful Korea. I envision walking through the boarder with 70 disabled children from Seoul to Pyongyang in God’s grace. So I pray to practice re-unification with hope.
Such my heart for re-unification of Korea started out with establishing North Korean deaf football team in October, 2013. Until one nation Korea hosts the Olympics in both Seoul and Pyongyang together, I will persevere in Joseph’s spirit and in act of love.
I envision a one-nation Korea through the Olympics. Asian countries have hosted the Olympics every 20 years period, such as Tokyo Olympics in 1964, Seoul Olympics in 1988 and Beijing Olympics in 2008. I hope for the Seoul-Pyongyang Olympics in 2032. As I ponder upon my prayer and hope, I look upon the Gospel-centered re-unified Korea and plant the seed of North Korea together with the marginalized disabled in South and North Korea. I am dreaming that Korea, the disabled nation, to be a priest nation serving all other nations.
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” —John 12:24.
 The Veritas, June 23, 2014.
 Jeong Soo Park “Biblical Reunification Theology”, Theology and Mission, No. 41 (Buchon: Seoul Theological University, 2012). 237-238. requote)
Rev. Minkyo Lee the President of the Global Blessing and missionary of GP International, specialized in the disabled. He served as the Pastor of Uzbekistan Church for the Deaf from 1997 to 2004. He also was the Head Coach for the Deaf Soccer Team of Kazakhstan from 2005 to 2015.