Amidst the Threat of War

Tensions have been steadily rising between North and South Korea the past few weeks. I know because I see articles about it on almost every day. But here in Seoul, there is no tension in the air. None.

As someone living on the ground in Korea, I felt it my duty to write something intelligent and insightful about what is happening here. Or at least something to assuage friends and family who read this blog that everything is and will continue to be fine. But instead, I find that all I have to say at the end of this very long Wednesday is that I teared up tonight because of this photo. It was posted on a blog as part of a collection of photos of Korean youth expressing themselves through English signs. These Korean students wrote signs about everything from kpop star crushes to suicide to life ambitions, but this young man chose to write this.

Sometimes I’m not sure anyone in South Korea feels this way. Amidst all the headlines about imminent missile tests and economic crises, I find myself most concerned about the mindsets of South Koreans toward North Korea. Even if nukes aren’t launched on this peninsula any time soon, we are still very far away from the thing that I deeply long for: unity.

Not just political or economic unity, but real unity. Brotherhood kind of unity.

I know from conversations I’ve had that many, probably most, South Koreans do not share this longing. They may desire a unified Korea in a vague, hopefully-after-I-die, non-personal, theoretical kind of way. But they don’t want to sacrifice the comforts and stability they have worked so hard to achieve for people they feel no responsibility towards. There are deep-seated wounds and resentments from decades ago, which I don’t fully understand, that prevent them from seeing North Koreans as brothers. At best, they are a burden; at worst, an enemy.

This picture gave me hope.

Amidst my prayers for confusion, division, and malfunction to pervade the North Korean army, amidst my proclamations of God’s Sovereign hand of protection over this city, I cry out for the healing of this land. Freedom for those living in darkness. Restoration of what was lost. Reconciliation. Forgiveness. Revival.

Come, Lord Jesus, and do what only You can do.



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Elizabeth is a teacher, preacher, musician, and writer. She has a Master's of Divinity and a Master's of Music, which represent her two great loves: Jesus and the arts. A half-Korean, half-white American, she spent seven years in South Korea teaching English. Elizabeth is a perpetual learner, a deep feeler, and a pursuer of beauty and truth.

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