By: Wenses Salomón Pool Albornoz
The South Korean men’s national team is also called the “Taegeuk Warriors” or “Red Devils” — a reference to their red uniform. They’ve qualified for nine World Cups so far.
According to an old country legend, in the times of the Three Kingdoms of Korea (Korio, Baekje, and Silla), a ball game called Cuju arrived in the country. Koreans consider this game to be modern football’s forerunner. Football as we know it arrived in East Asia on British ships during the last quarter of the 19th century. In June 1882, at the time of the Korean Empire, a warship named H.M.S. Flying Fish docked off the coast of Jemulpo (today’s Incheon). In command of the ship was Admiral George Willes, a celebrated sailor of the British Royal Navy. While he was signing trade treaties, his crew brought a ball ashore and villagers marveled at the new game.
Korean culture is truly captivating. Dance is a good example, and anyone who sees a Korean dance for the first time is sure to be speechless. It’s a display of art, harmony, and color. One of these dances — perhaps the most popular — is the crane dance. It was created in imitation of beautiful birds that have wintered in South Korea for centuries. In 2012, the Korean folk song “Arirang” was recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. South Korea is a center of technological advancement, yet the traditional way of life still endures. One visit to Seoul is enough to understand how palaces thousands of years old can coexist with even the most modern skyscrapers.
Christian communities existed in Joseon as early as the 17th century; however, it was only in the 1880s that the government allowed a large number of Western missionaries to enter the country. Protestant missionaries established schools, hospitals, and publishing agencies. Together with Catholic priests, these evangelical leaders converted a remarkable number of Koreans, this time with the support of the royal government that had previously overlookedWestern forces in a period of deep internal crisis. Christianity grew significantly in the 1970s and 1980s and is especially dominant in the western regions of the country, including Seoul, Incheon, and the Gyeonggi and Honam regions.
The Church of the Nazarene has a strong presence in the country, with hundreds of present churches educating thousands of professionals through the Korean Nazarene University. Pray that evangelicals will continue to be passionate about missions and prayer: two characteristics that have always identified the Church in South Korea.
Photographer: Jorge Señorans
Photographer: Sharon Ocampo