Chapter 11

The Church and Power:
A Korean Experience

"Thc first shall be the last to serve all "(Mark 9:35).

This essay deals with the question of power in the history of the Korean church in the context of the political life of the Korean people. It is a Biblical and theological reflection on the political witness of the Korean churches during the last 300 years.

The Korean people have experienced various political experiences in their history. In the most ancient period, they lived as tribal communities around 2333 B.C., as a tribal confederacy and as three kingdoms (57 B.C. -A.D. 654).

In the year 654, the three kingdoms were integrated into the first United Kingdom of Silla that lasted until A.D. 935 in which military integration, political unity and religious harmony were realized. Politically, Confucian "statecraft" was adopted while religiously Buddhism dominated and provided the religious foundation for the united kingdom; Confucianism did not play an ideological role. Succeeding the Silla Kingdom, the Koryo Kingdom (918 - 1392) was established without much struggle and change, but the Chosun Kingdom radically transformed the Koryo Kingdom into a full-fledged Confucian dynasty.

The Chosun Dynasty (1392 - 1910) was established through a military coup d’etat that overthrew the Koryo Kingdom. Neo-Confucianism was enthroned as the official ideology of the kingdom in place of Buddhism, which subsequently was severely suppressed. The Chosun Confucian polity was centralized. Neo- Confucianism provided not only the statecraft of the central organization of governance, but it permeated Chosun society in philosophy, ethics and even religion. Neo-Confucianism was the official ideology determining the orthodox teaching of all people, especially government employees, who had to take an examination in neo-Confucian classics. The social and political system was established with the king at the center, a Confucian bureaucracy of aristocrats - the Yangban - and a rigid social separation between the Yangban and the commoners.

I. Roman Catholicism Enters Chosun Society:
Heavenly Lord vs. Heaven

In about 1603, a Roman Catholic book on theology written in Chinese by Matteo Ricci (1552 -1610) was smuggled into Korea. This book was studied by Confucian scholars for more than a century. Around 1725 a native Catholic community clandestinely emerged. The community of Catholic believers received its official stamp as a church in 1784 when one of its members, Lee Seung Hun, was baptized in Peking by a Jesuit missionary who was ecclesiastically linked to the papal authority.

When the community of Catholic believers began to practice openly what they believec~t, there emerged a conflict between the Confucian polity and the small Catholic community over the issue of ancestor worship, the spiritual expression of filial piety. The Roman Catholic believers had abandoned ancestor worship. Filial piety (the loyal and filial relationship between a father and his son), however, was the paradigmatic core value of Chosun society, and the political order was anchored upon this central value. Loyalty to the king (Ch’ung) was based upon filial piety. The Roman Catholic community was thus accused of subverting Confucian society, attacking the central value system of filial piety and showing disloyalty to the political authority of the king.

The Roman Catholic community worshiped the Heavenly Lord (Ch’onju = God) as the sole and supreme authority and as the Creator of heaven and earth, whereas Confucian political authority emaninated from Heaven. The king’s rule was based upon the Heavenly Mandate (Ch’onmyong), whereas the Catholic community lived according to the commandments of the Heavenly Lord. The authority of the Heavenly Lord was directly mediated to the members of the community of Roman Catholic believers, whereas the supreme authority of Heaven was mediated to the king and then to society in a hierarchical order. Therefore, the king was the absolute ruler. He was the one who distributed the benefits or blessings of Heaven to the people. It was the Kyongse Chemin (political economy) of Confucian rule. Roman Catholicism, however, did not develop any specific political thought in the Chosun Dynasty but remained the religious expression of the Heavenly Ruler or Ch’onju.

As for supreme authority, the Heavenly Lord of the Roman Catholic community was the Creator of Heaven, which was the source of authority for the Confucian political order. Socially, Heaven was the basis for maintenance of the Confucian hierarchy, including the social division of Yangban and commoners in Chosun society, whereas the Roman Catholic community believed there was no distinction between Yangban and commoners in the community of the children of Ch’onju.

This was the nature of the conflict between the Confucian polity and the Roman Catholic community. The Confucian authorities of the Chosun Dynasty decided to persecute the Catholic community, labeling them as subversives and their teaching as evil and contrary to the orthodox teaching of Confucianism. As a result, many believers of the Roman Catholic community became martyrs.

The nature of this conflict between the Confucian polity and the Roman Catholic community is often obscured by association of the Catholic community with the Western colonial powers and with the hierarchical order of the Roman Catholic ecclesial order. In reality, however, neither the Western political powers nor the Roman Catholic ecclesial order could have played decisiye roles in society, for these political or ecclesial powers were not influential during the early stages of the Korean Roman Catholic community’s formation. This was particularly true until the end of the 19th century.

As a persecuted group, the Roman Catholic community experienced inevitable transformations. Often the authorities labeled the common people as Roman Catholics in order to extort money and goods from them. Although many leaders became martyrs, many commoners joined the community as a haven of hope and mutual protection in Confucian society. The oppressed people, the commoners, discovered that there was no distinction between Yangban and commoners in the Roman Catholic community.

The Roman Catholic community thus became proletarianized. Its theology had to be transformed from scholastic concepts to popular theology, and most significantly, its language had to be changed from the Chinese characters of the Yangban class to the Korean script of the common people. This was the beginning of the indigenization of the Christian language into Korean society with all of the social and political implications of this transformation. Faced with internal political and social crisis, the Chosun Dynasty made the Roman Catholic community the scapegoat of rebellion while the common people found in the Church their hope for liberation from the oppression of the Confucian social order.

Thus, the Christian faith played a significant role in the political history of the Korean people from the very beginning. The Christian faith was subversive of the despotic rule of the Confucian dynasty in Korea, for Christians believed that all things were created by their God, "the Creator of heaven and earth and everything therein"; thus, the absolute power of the king was undermined.

II. Protestantism and the Sovereign Rights of the People

It is important to state that, as in other missionary contexts, the Protestant mission in Korea came with the colonial expansion of the Western powers, and yet Korea never became a colony of the Western powers; rather, it became a colony of the Eastern power, Japan. Here the Korean Protestant community had to deal with the monarchic power of the Chosun Dynasty, which was undergoing disintegration because of domestic erosion and external challenge by the international powers, and subsequently with the imperial power of Japan following its victories in the Sino-Japanese War (1894) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904) and its successful diplomatic maneuvering with the United Kingdom and the United States. This led to the complete hegemony of Japan’s imperial power over the affairs of the Korean people.

Generally speaking, the Protestant mission had the backing of the Western powers, but the Western powers could not be dominant in Korea until 1945 when the United States occupied the southern half of the Korean Peninsula.

From the beginning, the Protestant mission had to be sensitive to the anti-Western attitude of the Confucian rulers, which had originated in the era of anti-Catholic persecution and which intensified during the attempts of the Western military, political and commercial powers to enter Korea. The strategy of the Protestant mission was to befriend the royal family to gain tolerance for religious propagation, which was carried out in a very low-key manner, for the missionaries did not want to alienate the already hostile Yangban class as they began to evangelize the lower echelon of Korean society.

By 1895, the Korean Christian community had become influential in the country through its participation in the famous Toknip Hyophoe (Independence Association) and the political reform movement th~it it launched. The Korean Christian leaders were bearers of the Western political ideal of the sovereignty of the people. They initially advocated a republican polity and later a constitutional monarchy as the political platform of the Independence Association. Christians demanded that national policies should be decided by popular will. This, indeed, was complete subversion of the Confucian monarchy. Whereas, for the British and American missionaries, this republican polity was the natural historical outcome of their Christian faith; for the Korean Christians as subjects of the Confucian king, the republican polity was a revolutionary political idea.

The Korean rulers could not entertain such Western political ideas although many people believed that political reform might be the only way to counter the encroachment of foreign powers. The Korean authorities, however, arrested the leaders of the Independence Association, which alarmed the missionaries and led the Korea Mission Council to formally adopt the policy of political neutrality in 1901 that prohibited any political activities on the part of church members. This was the beginning of tension between the Korean Christian community and the missionary community in Korea about the issue of political participation.

The Korean Christian leaders had to find ways to help determine the political destiny of the people. They found an organizational device in the establishment of the Christian Young People’s Association, which was formed that same year in 1901. This organization provided a place for the Korean Christian leaders to gather together and carry out some educational and evangelistic activities for the young people. Christian mission schools were also breeding grounds for Korean nationals with a modern political outlook.

When Japan defeated Russia and managed to neutralize Great Britain by treaty and American power by the secret Taft-Katsura agreement, Korea fell into the hands of Japan and became its defacto colony. This constituted a real national crisis to which Christians responded in two different ways. One group of Christians organized official churches under Korean and missionary leadership that sought to steer the minds of Korean Christians away from the nation’s political crisis to an eschatology of another world. The other major response by Christians was to join various political organizations to struggle for national independence. They participated in underground independence movement organizations, such as the Shinminhoe (New People’s Association); they sent secret diplomatic missions to appeal to the nations of the world; and they joined the Righteous Army Movement to fight against the Japanese occupation forces.

The latter response of Korean Christians clearly envisioned the restoration of their nation as a state with the people as the sovereign rulers. This is the meaning of "new people" in the name of the New People’s Association

- an underground network of people nationwide who wanted to achieve national independence and to establish a national state characterized by economic self- reliance and cultural transformation. Economic, educational, political and military activities were carried out by the New People’s Association in and outside of the Korean Peninsula.

III. Messianic Reign and the Vision of the People

When the Japanese formally annexed Korea in 1910, they regarded their most formidable force of resistance to be Korean Christianity. The conspiracy case to assassinate Governor General Terauchi of Chosun was fabricated to destroy the New People’s Association. This was called the "105 incident," for 105 leaders were prosecuted on fabricated charges. More than 80% of those who were sentenced were Christian leaders. The dismantling and uprooting of the New People’s Association meant preemptive suppression of political resistance internally.

The Japanese colonial government wanted to expel Korean and Christian influence from the colonial education system. Their educational ordinances issued in 1910 banned Christian and Korean teachings in the mission schools, which had been the nurturing ground for Korea’s national leaders in addition to the Korean National People’s Schools. Japan wanted to educate all Koreans as loyal subjects of the Japanese emperor. This colonial policy brought about a major conflict between the Protestant mission and the colonial government, for the mission schools were under the sole control of the missionaries. This issue of separation of Church and State required extended diplomatic activities by the Federal Council of Foreign Missions in New York with the U.S. State Department and with the Japanese embassy in Washington, D.C. - a dispute that lasted 15 years.

For Korean Christians, education was a means of achieving national liberation as well as a means of evangelization; for missionaries, it was purely a means of evangelization; for the colonial government of Japan, it was a means of subjugation of the Korean people. The colonial government argued for the separation of Church and State in order to exclude the Church from the colonial educational system, which was their means of domestication. This policy has often been used by dictatorial governments in more recent years of Korean history. (When the ruling power argues for the separation of Church and State to suppress and curtail the influence and work of the Christian community, then the classical Calvinist doctrine is distorted. Moreover, this doctrine is not relevant in a non-Christian context, such as in Korea.)

The Korean Christian community participated dramatically in the national resistance movement through the famous March 1 Independence Movement in 1919. In fact, the Christian community defied the Korean mission’s policy of non-involvement and became a central part of the nonviolent and peaceful Minjung resistance movement.

Together the Christian, Buddhist and Tonghak communities - the latter an indigenous religion - organized the people to demonstrate and to protest on a national scale. The people responded everywhere and demonstrated continuously for three months; and in some places, demonstrations continued for a year. National independence was the clear vision of the resistance movement, and the people hoped for a new history. This was enshrined in the National Independence Declaration, which has become the pivotal document of recent Korean history.

The declaration has two distinct characteristics that deserve our attention: first, there is the expression of the messianic vision of the Korean people, which undergirds their real political vision; and secondly, there is the unmistakable definition of a polity of people’s sovereignty. In the spirit of the March 1 Independence Movement, the government-in-exile was organized in Shanghai, and the Constitution of Taehan Minguk (Republic of Korea) was written based on a polity in which the sovereignty of the State resides in the people. What is remarkable about the event and the declaration is that there occurred a complete transformation in the consciousness of the Korean people and that the people clearly aspired for a democratic republic as their new nation.

The Korean Christian community participated in the resistance movement of the people against the tyranny of Japan’s colonial power. This was, indeed, a remarkable event, for it betrays the conservative nature of Korean Christianity. This historic experience should be regarded as one of the important roots of Minjung theology. The March 1 Independence Movement is recognized by Minjung theologians in Korea as an Exodus event for the Korean people, as an intervention of the Messianic Reign. The Korean Christian community sought the transformation of the State’s power, monarchic and imperial, into a democratic power that would serve the sovereignty of the people. Their political resistance was not merely negative opposition: they had a definite vision of the political future of the Korean people.

There has been some discussion about the theological and political nature of Christians’ participation in the resistance movement, but the general character of Christian participation in the movement is unmistakable. In fact, the more we investigate that participation, the more compelling it becomes. We are waiting for a thoroughly scholarly work on the subject, which is urgently needed.

The emergence of the messianic hope and passion and the messianic vision and perception, however, were not translated into concrete ethical principles or political policies because of the suppression of the Christian community by the Japanese and also because of the non-political orientation of the churches under the leadership of the missionaries. There was no political or ecclesiastical space to articulate and reflect upon the experiences of Christian participation in the March 1 Independence Movement. This is the reason why the Christian community could not respond to the ideological context of the subsequent period.

In the 1920s, various ideologies were introduced into Korea due to a degree of "liberalization" of colonial policies, which was an appeasement tactic by the Liberal regime in Japan itself. Socialist ideologies, for example, were allowed to be introduced in the nation’s mushrooming newspapers and magazines. Within this framework, the national independence movement gained certain ideological characteristics. Some thought socialist ideology was the best instrument to realize national liberation; others thought liberalism was best. There developed, as a result, two ideological tendencies within the same national independence movement. The colonial governments ought to divide the nationalist movement using the divergent ideological tendencies against each other.

The Christian community was also having similar experiences: some followed the socialist tendency, and others followed the liberal line. These two tendencies were not mutually exclusive, for they both had the same objective of national liberation and independence. This was evidenced in their attempt to join their efforts in the Shinganhoe, which was a united front of the two ideological tendencies. When this united front was formed, the colonial government suppressed it and dismantled the organization.

The churches led by the missionaries in Korea had a somewhat different perspective. The missionaries were ardent anti- communists, for they believed that communists were, by definition, atheists. This resulted in the formation of churches which were very negative toward political ideologies, particularly progressive ones. The Korean independence movement was bound to be sympathetic towards any revolutionary ideology, however, for its aim was national liberation. Christian liberals were also sympathetic to the progressive ideologies, and some Christians regarded themselves as progressives. Very few thought of themselves as capitalists.

One fundamental limitation was that the churches under the theological leadership of the missionaries could, not enter creatively into the ideological arena as a way to participate in the national independence movement. This was generally the case during the 1920s. However, some Christian leaders became very interested in introducing the Social Gospel from the West. This was particularly important in the development of the Christian Young People’s Movement.

IV. The Korean Church and Status Confessionis

In 1930, the political situation in Japan, Korea and East Asia in general changed dramatically. The ultraconservative military wing of Japan’s political forces created the Manchurian incident and took over the reins of the Japanese government. The colonial administration of Korea was transferred from the Foreign Department to the Internal Affairs Department, and the Yasukuni Shrine became the national shrine of Japan. All Japanese subjects were required to worship Shinto. Naturally the Korean Christian community now faced a very difficult political and religious situation. Colonial policies were changed to eradicate Korean culture and history and to annihilate the Korean identity. Koreans were required to change their names to Japanese names; they were not allowed to speak their own language in public places, including schools; and they could not learn anything about their history and culture. Indeed, Japanese history was imposed upon the Korean people; Korean history was explained only as a part of the history o1 Japan. This was a very brutal part of the assimilation policy of the Japanese colonial government in Korea.

Furthermore, the Japanese ambition, or rather mission, to build the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere led to the Japanese invasion of China and eventually to their entry into World War II. During Japan’s military campaigns of expansion, the Korean people were completely mobilized as "war corvee" for the Japanese.

The Korean churches were facing the deepest crisis in their faith, for they were forced to worship Shinto, thus, violating the first commandment. Most of the official churches capitulated and did so humiliatingly. Some churches refused to worship Shinto and were forced to close. Thousands of Christians were jailed for refusing to bow at the Shinto shrine. Many became martyrs; some hid themselves in the mountains; still others became exiles.

The Japanese colonial government hoped to break the will of the Korean Christian community by imposing Shinto worship. They said that Shinto worship was not a religious act but a national ceremonial ritual, and therefore, Shinto worship did not violate any religious commandment. The Korean Christians, however, did not share the same perception. For Korean Christians, it was a matter of being faithful to God or denying God: it was a situation of status confessionis. The story of the Rev. Chu Ki- Ch’ol, who refused to worship Shinto and became a martyr, illustrates the case.

The Korean Christian community was left, therefore, to face the imperial power of Japan with its religious and absolute claims. It was a confrontation between the sovereignty of God and the Japanese emperor. The resistance or capitulation of the Korean Christian community was a question of resisting or giving in to the absolute authority of the political idol that was victimizing the Korean people.

Some argue that the martyrdom of the Rev. Chu Ki-Ch’ol because of his resistance to Shinto was a pure act of faith and that, therefore, it had no political implications. It is clear that it was not ordinary political resistance but resistance based upon faith and in defense of faith; it was resistance against absolutist and totalitarian power rooted in the strongest foundations of faith. The apocalyptic literature of the Bible shows similar experiences. The martyred saints resisted the imperial powers of Babylon and Rome on the basis of faith and in defense of faith in the sovereignty of God over the whole Creation, including human political life.

V. The Christian Community and
Democracy and Peace among the People

The Korean church suffered with the people under the domination of Japan’s colonial rule. The Church participated in the suffering of the people and experienced the koinonia of pain with the people oppressed by the Japanese Empire. Naturally, the liberation of the Korean people at the end of World War II was the joy of the Church as well as of the Korean people.

The Korean people, however, then had to endure another experience of the reality of power: the military occupation of the Soviet Union in the North and of the United States in the South, which divided the nation and the people. This division was caused by the superpowers’ rivalry. Their surrogate war in Korea resulted in six million dead and injured; 10 million people were separated from their families. The political, military and ideological division of the Korean people has generated a culture of enmity and hate among the people and has provided the pretext for the military dictatorships and the reckless military build-up and limitless accumulation of arms.

The Korean Christian community was really weak at the time of liberation in 1945. Even before the rebuilding of the churches began, the Christian community had to experience the harsh political realities of the military occupations in the North and in the South. In the North, the Christian community confronted the communist regime; and in the South, the Christian community colluded with the corrupt dictatorial regime of Syngman Rhee in a symbiotic relationship.

The Korean Christian community, which was so courageous until the 1920s, capitulated to the imperial power of Japan; and without clear and creative discernment, it became naively anti-communist, uncritical and blindly supportive of the corrupt dictatorship led by Rhee, who was a Christian. Before and during the Korean War, many Christians in the North fled to the South, which further strengthened the anti-communist tendency in the Church.

The churches in the North were completely destroyed physically and ecclesiastically, particularly during and after the Korean War. Today the Christian community in the North is very weak. On the other hand, the churches in the South have been growing phenomenally, doubling in growth every 10 years since 1945. Now the Christian population has reached 10 million or 25% of the south Korean population.

The political reawakening of the Korean churches occurred with the challenge of the student revolution in 1960 when the pro- Christian regime of Syngman Rhee was overthrown. Suddenly the churches’ symbiotic power relationship with the corrupt dictatorship was exposed, and public criticism was directed against the churches’ unprincipled links with the powerful for privileges. There were, however, self-critical voices regarding the political attitude of the Church as well.

The 1961 military coup dramatically changed the situation though. The military regime was cool towards the Church, for Gen. Park Chung-Hee of the military junta was not a Christian and even held a cynical attitude toward the Church.

From this point’in time, the Church found itself in a cool political environment, and in 1965 the Church opposed the normalization treaty with Japan. This was a full confrontation between the Church and the government over a major political issue. The strength of the Church was not in its numbers (the membership of the Protestant churches was less than two million) but in its legitimate position.

The churches could not prevent the government though from ratifying the normalization treaty, although they resorted to direct actions, such as public prayer meetings and demonstrations. However, it became very clear that the historic political awareness of the Church had been reawakened. Church leaders, such as Dr. Han Kyung-Jik and Dr. Kim Chai-Choon, became very prominent "political" leaders in Korean society.

Since then, a small but prophetic minority in the Church has functioned as the political conscience of the Korean people. Some Christian leaders participated in the opposition to the revision of the Constitution that would allow Park to run for his third term as president. After Park declared martial law to carry out that revision - the so-called Yushin (Revitalization) Constitution of 1972 which made him president for life - the Christian community spearheaded opposition to the Yushin regime.

The movement for human rights, social justice and democracy in the 1970s was centered around the ecumenical movement of churches and action groups in Korea. In this context, there emerged Minjung theology, a Korean political theology, and the Christian community catalyzed similar movements in the society at large. Initially the participation of the Christian community in the political life of the people took the form of resistance and opposition to dictatorial power, its violation of human rights and the pervasive environment of social injustice. However, as time went on, Christians began to develop clear political and social thinking and to feel an acute need for scientific social analysis and policy development. Although liberal democratic concepts and jargon served well as far as human rights were concerned, this was not sufficient for questions concerning social justice. Thus, the Korean churches began to define human rights very broadly to include the social and cultural rights of the oppressed and exploited people.

One of the important developments was the concept of power at the grassroots level. The Christian community believed that democracy should be from bottom to top, not from top to bottom. For this process of democratization, the people at the grassroots should organize themselves to secure their rights. This is regarded as the power of the people or Minjung power. This power is contrasted to dictatorial power; it is power based upon grassroots democracy.

Analysis of the political situation became increasingly sophisticated as time went on. The militaristic nature of the dictatorship, based on an ideology of national security against the threat of north Korea, was clarified. "The Theological Declaration of Korean Christians" in 1973 proclaimed the signs of the times:

"The present dictatorship in Korea is destroying rule by law and persuasion; it now rules by force and threat alone.

"The regime in Korea is destroying freedom of conscience and freedom of religious belief. There is freedom neither of expression nor of silence. There is interference by the regime in Christian churches’ worship, prayer, gatherings, the contents of sermons and the teachings of the Bible....

"The dictatorship in Korea is using systematic deception, manipulation and indoctrination to control the people. The mass media has been turned into the regime’s propaganda machine to tell the people half-truths and outright lies and to control and manipulate information to deceive the people.

"The dictatorship in Korea uses sinister, inhuman and, at the same time, ruthlessly efficient means to destroy its political opponents, intellectual critics and innocent people. The use of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) for this purpose is somewhat similar to the evil ways of the Nazi’s Gestapo or the KGB of the Stalin era. People are physically and mentally tortured, intimidated and threatened and sometimes even disappear completely. These are, indeed, diabolical acts against humanity....

"The present dictatorship is responsible for the economic system in which the powerful dominate the poor. The people - poor urban workers and rural peasants - are victims of severe exploitation and social and economic injustice. The so-called ‘economic development’ in Korea has turned out to be the conspiracy of a few rulers against the poor people and a curse to our environment

The Christian community of mission groups and churches inserted themselves between the oppressive powers and the people, bearing witness to the reality of truth, justice and human rights in the Korean historical process. Increasingly, the Christian community felt the need to articulate the Christian vision of society, not as a blueprint of the future, but as a concrete vision that would allow the Christian community to be creatively engaged in the determination of the political future of the Korean people.

The Church has understood the nature of the present power as a dictatorship that has no respect for rules and laws that protect the rights of the people and as a sinister power that distorts the truth and employs sinister means to violate human beings and life. This power is understood as rebellious against God. It is also understood as an economic system that exploits the poor and violates their socio-economic rights. The Church has advocated resistance against this power and has sought to establish democracy that would guarantee socio-economic rights as well as the basic human rights of the people.

The Church, however, had to experience yet another dimension of political power during the people’s resistance in Kwangju and their massacre by the military in 1980. The political power of Korea had become militarized to the extent that it could turn our own citizens and civilians into its enemy. Furthermore, the use of this military force against Korean citizens was found to be closely linked with the protection of the interests of the imperial power of the United States, which may be called Pax Americana. Awareness of the imperial dimension of political power in Korea completed the understanding of the political power that the Korean churches and people had to face.

The Korean churches declared that the division of their nation and people had been carried out by the imperial powers of the Soviet Union and the United States. This Paxlmperium is not the peace of Jesus Christ, for which the Korean churches proclaimed the Year of Jubilee in 1995 to remember the 50th anniversary of the division of Korea. The challenge of the Gospel to the churches in Korea is to witness to the peace of the Messianic Reign within the vortex of the power struggle among the superpowers in and around the Korean Peninsula.

VI. Biblical Footnotes

Looking back at the history of the witness of the Christian community in the political life of the Korean people, we are reminded of the history of the relationship between the people of God in Israel and the principalities and powers in and around Israel. There was absolute domination by the imperial powers, such as Egypt, Babylon, Assyria. Greece and Rome, which claimed pax on this earth. However, the people of God experienced true peace in the sovereign reign of God, who created the Garden of Life in Eden and promised sustenance, which was to be fully realized in the kairos of God.

The peace of the Messianic Kingdom had been envisioned among the suffering people and their visionary leaders. The prophets of the people of God denounced the false peace of Pax Imperium. Instead, the peace of the Messianic Reign is the foundation of life in shalom in which the rights of the people are fully realized.

In this Messianic Reign, there is neither room for the power of domination nor the domination of power. The only power that is allowed is the power that serves God and, therefore, the people. This may be called "servant power" (doularchy = doulos + archy). Jesus defined true authority: "The first shall be the last to serve all." "The first" is the servant, and "all," that is, the Minjung, are the masters who are served. This is the most radical form of polity in which the people are truly sovereign.