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South Korean Pastors Show Support For U.S. Military

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2006 – A group of South Korean pastors made a pilgrimage to the Pentagon today to show their support for the U.S. military.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Left to Right: Lee Sang Hyung, General Secretary of the Korean-American Protestant Pastors’ Association; Shin Shin Mook, KAPPA co-chairman; Bishop Kim Hong Do, head of the Kumnan Methodist Church; and Kim Dong Kwon, KAPPA co-chairman, pose for a photo in the Pentagon Memorial Chapel Oct. 31. The South Korean churchmen were part of a 52-member group that visited the Pentagon to show their support for American-South Korean partnership. The group had helped to raise $1.3 million used to purchase four stained-glass windows for the Pentagon Memorial Chapel after the 9/11 attacks. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

More than 50 members of the Korean-American Protestant Pastors’ Association participated in morning seminars in the Memorial Chapel and later toured the building to view items related to the U.S.-South Korean partnership, said Army Chaplain (Col.) Gary K. Sexton, the group’s escort officer.

The event is co-sponsored by the U.S. Army Chaplains Corps and the Defense Department, and demonstrates “our strong support for the ongoing American-Korean alliance,” said Sexton, who’s assigned to the 18th Medical Command at Yongsan, South Korea.

The 52 South Korean pastors “have been integrally involved in honoring the American commitment to the (Korean) peninsula,” the chaplain explained. The pastors also had helped to raise $1.3 million used to purchase four stained-glass windows for the Pentagon Memorial Chapel after the 9/11 attacks.

The pastors’ donation was “a gift to the American people in our hour of distress,” Sexton said.

Bishop Kim Hong Do, who attended the Pentagon event, is head of the largest Methodist congregation in the world, Sexton noted.

Kim tends to more than 100,000 parishioners as head of the Kumnan Methodist Church in South Korea, and he “has a strong vision for strengthening and bolstering the American-Korean alliance,” Sexton said.

The 1950-53 Korean War ended in a stalemate. But, North Korea, which on Oct. 9 announced it’d successfully detonated an atomic bomb, has made no secret of its desire to one day subjugate its southern neighbor.

Today, about 25,000 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea to deter possible North Korean aggression.

Kim, 68, highly values the U.S.-South Korean partnership that keeps the peace on the Korean peninsula. “Wherever I may go I like to express my gratitude to America,” Kim said. About 120 years ago, he noted, two American missionaries arrived in Korea.

Today, about 10 million Christians are part of South Korea’s 50-million populace, Kim said, which also includes Buddhists, as well as followers of the Confucian faith.

The United States also sent troops to assist South Korea when the Korean War broke out in 1950, Kim recalled. And since the end of the war “America has helped to protect South Korea,” the pastor said.

The North Korean government under dictator Kim Jong Il is a murderous regime that has no regard for religious views or basic human rights, Kim said.

In view of this threat, Kim said he and most of his fellow citizens are glad that thousands of U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea.

“We can feel (the) safety,” the South Korean bishop said.

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