Monday, 2 December 2013

Surprises in South Korea

Emeritus Jim Olthuis reflects on his recent trip to South Korea.

“South Korea is simply an amazing country, not only because of its technological prowess (Seoul is the most wired city in the world, its subway system is splendid, etc.) but the exuberant energy of its Christian believers (reported to be 20 to 30% of the population) is contagious.”   That is our impression after Arvilla and I were able to spend two and half weeks in Korea. I first presented a paper, entitled “Faith, Hope and Love:  A Biblical Postmodern Vision of/for Education” to the 4th International Conference of the Korean Evangelical Theological Society in Seoul, Korea.

After a stimulating and informative six-day tour of the rest of the country (Korea is 70% mountainous, with 50 million people in a country that would fit into Lake Michigan), I was then able to lead two classes at Westminster Graduate School of Theology Seminary at the invitation of  Dr. Shinae Kim, ICS alumna, the person largely responsible for arranging our trip to Korea. Thank you Shinae!

One wonderful highlight of the trip was the opportunity we had to share a lovely Korean dinner (see picture) with a group of Korean academics, all members of the remarkable Christian Worldview Studies Association of Korea. I then led a more than two-hour seminar on the making of a post-postmodern biblical worldview. This was followed by an exciting four days at Chongshin University, graciously hosted by friend and Professor of Christian Philosophy, Kuk Won Shin, a graduate of the Institute who wrote his thesis on Gadamer under the tutelage of Henk Hart. I gave two lectures (see picture), translated by Kuk Won, one of which on November 1st was interrupted by the surprise of students dimming the lights, and bringing in a birthday cake to help me celebrate turning 75. I came back a year older, humbled and thrilled to have seen in person the very real difference graduates of the Institute are able to make in the  distant, but dear land of South Korea.

Jim Olthuis