how the world sees america

Korea's American Saviors

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SEOUL, Korea -- “He is a sensation,” my taxi driver says when I tell him I'm heading to interview Dr. David Yonggi Cho, founder of the largest megachurch on earth. We drive through Yeouido, a business district in Seoul where the roads are wide and the buildings tall, past Cho's religious TV channel, his two newspapers, his 600-person global missionary outfit, and his stadium-sized church.

Finally, we reach the sleek media center where I am to interview Cho. When he emerges, he is joined by an entourage of three cameramen, five aides, two secretaries, and a woman with a comb who flattens Cho's wisps of black hair. Cho walks steadily to the interview chair and lowers himself down with his back perfectly erect. He stops his right hand from twitching, and then makes eye contact. I tell him we are to talk about America, and he begins:

“America has made this possible…It has been the main influence on my life up until now.”

Cho was born in 1936. At age ten he watched America evict the Japanese colonial power from Korea. At age fifteen he fled the communist guerrillas who attacked his landowning family in the north. They fled, destitute, to Busan, Korea's second-largest city, where "the Americans were our saviors.” Cho got a job moving boxes for the U.S. army; he learned English, and soon became a translator for the Americans.

America also saved Cho by bringing him Jesus Christ. At seventeen, Cho was dying of tuberculosis. But a mystery missionary gave him a Bible. Cho decided to stop praying to Buddha, who didn't do anything, and try Christ instead. It worked: Christ appeared in a vision and healed Cho.

That's when he saw the difference between the religions: you must "work to become Buddha through hardship," but "Jesus the Living God is your friend, mentor and guide here and now."

In return for healing him, Cho promised Jesus he'd devote his life to Him. Again, the Americans helped provide a way. A former U.S. marine named Abner Chesnut returned to Korea as a Pentecostal minister and gave Cho a scholarship to the newly-opened American Full Gospel Bible School.

Cho studied there, helping the U.S. missionaries translate. When he graduated in 1958, he started his own ministry in a tattered U.S. army tent he bought secondhand. That's when his meteoric rise began.

He started preaching in the slums of Seoul, often to communities other missionaries had neglected. He honed his speaking skills by sitting at a mosquito-ridden mountain retreat until the Holy Spirit began speaking in tongues through him. After this experience, Cho claims he achieved the ability to inspire crowds.

Over the coming decade, his Pentecostal Church of four members grew to several thousand. To maintain his congregation's growth, he pioneered a cell-based strategy in which every minister trains a successor to start his own congregation once the current one reaches a critical size.

His strategy worked. Korea hosts five of the world’s ten largest megachurches (defined as a non-Catholic congregation of 2000 or more worshipers per week). Hostile toward Christianity a century ago, Korea's population is now 30% Christian (20% Protestant, 10% Catholic). Its new president, Lee Myung-bak, is an elder at a born-again Christian church. This pleases Cho, who believes Christians must carry their faith into politics to prevent the moral decay of society, In Korea and in America.

A conservative man, Cho warns his congregation of North Korea’s continued attempts to spread amoral communist thought among the young. He blames North Korea, in part, for fostering anti-Americanism among South Korean youth. For the young, he says, “Benevolence is written in water, but malevolence is carved in stone.”

His church tries to resist, but he presses on. “I love America and the American people,” he says, for bringing him Jesus, delivering Korea from Japan and the communists, and assisting its economic growth. "I preach this to my congregation," he says, "I tell them, 'Don't ever forget what America did for us.'"

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Comments (62)

lee:

Me:
Ha! Indeed. We didn't help the Koreans out of any altruistic streak. We did it because the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and we were afraid of the communist domino possibility. Now that doesn't mean the results of the actions should be tainted just because the motives weren't pure. The US did do a good thing, just don't start handing out saint hoods just yet.

hahah. . i agree. It turned out to be a good thing but it wasn't out of pure goodness. We act in self interest but so does every other country in the world. Of course you want to act in the better interests of your country so people can't be blaming America for this nor can we turn around and point that same finger to them.

I'm Korean and there's a reason Korea was called the Hermit Kingdom. Their society is very homogeneous and there just aren't that many foreigners esp. if you're a foreigner with dark skin. Korean people. . they're first reaction to most situations is yelling and yelling like they have to pick a fight and win. Koreans have mad road rage and they're the worst drivers (esp the middle age women). In Seoul, with that many people lving in once city. . people are gonna be rude and pushy.

Anonymous:

It cannot be assumed from the responses made at some points that "most" Koreans hate America and a rare number of Koreans respect America. NO matter where you go people will try to rip you off. People will be mean. People will be rude. People will not appreciate different cultures. This is not just in Korea (I'm not saying all Koreans are good). It is same in all nations. I am a Korean and proud to be one, but I also am an American and proud to be one too. Korea critizes America for different mistakes they commit, but at the same time America does too. You cannot assume a country hates another country because of the opinions of the small number of people compared to the large country.
I know many Koreans that respect America, and I am not saying this because I want to make Korea look good but because it is true. Of course there are people who do not like America but that is the minor, i would say.
I don't know who's words are more reliable. A pro-American Korean or a skeptical American who does not like Korea in the first place and has never been there and only heard of stories.

Anonymous:

It cannot be assumed from the responses made at some points that "most" Koreans hate America and a rare number of Koreans respect America. NO matter where you go people will try to rip you off. People will be mean. People will be rude. People will not appreciate different cultures. This is not just in Korea (I'm not saying all Koreans are good). It is same in all nations. I am a Korean and proud to be one, but I also am an American and proud to be one too. Korea critizes America for different mistakes they commit, but at the same time America does too. You cannot assume a country hates another country because of the opinions of the small number of people compared to the large country.
I know many Koreans that respect America, and I am not saying this because I want to make Korea look good but because it is true. Of course there are people who do not like America but that is the minor, i would say.
I don't know who's words are more reliable. A pro-American Korean or a skeptical American who does not like Korea in the first place and has never been there and only heard of stories.

Ricky:

One last word of praise to the the church leader in this article. Not only is he a hero to the Korean People but is well recognized in almost any country on Earth. He is known for popularizing the use of small discipleship groups in private homes. This practice is widely used in most churches today thanks to his efforts.

Lost in Translation:

After living in Korea for 4 years, I've gone through many phases in dealing with the abuses dolled out by Koreans. It started with embracing. In the first 12 months, I was all gung-ho about learning Korean, thinking it was going to make life easier. The contrary is true. It only makes life harder because you understand more of the offensive hatred that Korean spew on foreigners. This may explain the "I've been here 4 weeks and I love it... I don't know what the fuss is about. . . Koreans are soooo kind and welcoming. . ." OK. Let's talk a year from now.

Next came the phase of frustration because eafter living here for a few years, I figured people might stop saying "foreigner" all the time. I doubt Americans or Canadians stare at Asians in the street or stroke a stranger's hairless arm in the subway the way I've had my arm-hair fondled in the subway by incredulous Koreans. Where I'm from, I guess we understand the word "foreigner," but we don't have much use for it. Whoever decides to live there and give it a go, is welcome to beceome Canadian. Here, no amount of dedication or contribution to their culture or economy will ever make a foreigner truly welcome.

I guess now I'm in the "who-gives-a-damn?" phase. After all the racism, sexism, corruption, and violence I've witnessed at the hands of Koreans, I've thrown in the towel and become what they've accused me of being all along: a dirty foreigner who doesn't care about Korea or its "culture," (whatever that is) and who is just here to exploit their insatiable hunger to learn En-guh-lee-shee! As another guy mentioned earlier, $40-60 an hour isn't bad for a guy with a Geography degree from a bottom-ranking western university. Mind you, it's actually, $100 an hour, and a Korean recruiter (who will later accuse you of being greedy) is taking HALF OR MORE, for the entire duration of your contract, for setting up the deal. So, if you get have your own business license in Korea, companies will pay you over $100 an hour to stop by in the morning and chat with employees before proceeding to your regular job.

I'm not interested in bashing Korea, because the opposite of love is, after all, not hatred, but indifference. So whatever arguments people get into about crazy Korean gunmen being the fault of a nation, or President lawyers who didn't attend law school (go figure) or whether or not Korea needs US forces here (hilarious, but go on. . . I'm listening) Go ahead and keep entertaining me while I load my pockets!

Oh and Christian Koreans!?!?!? Don't even get me started! Jesus did great work for free. It's too bad his little elves have such expensive tastes. Has anyone noticed that there are new churches going up everywhere, but Korean highschools look like Chinese prisons? Only me? Nevermind.

Anyway, Gotta run, I got a hundred-dollar-date with some chatty businessmen. . .

TA:

To ananymous

Looks like you're teaching Engreeeesh in Korea.
What I don't understand is you teach English to Koreans and mocking their accents?
I teach Statistics in the US as a TA and (as you can imagine) I got a lot to say, but I'm not gonna to that.

Army Vet:

The US should pull out of South Korea, and let those pansies defend themselves against North Korea.

South Koreans are UNGRATEFUL and UNAPPRECIATIVE and do NOT deserve any more US soldiers dying defending thier sorry lazy online-game-playing behinds.

Let them fight the North Koreans themselves and see who is the most hungry for control of the penisula.

fyi, i am an American whose family members have died in the Korean War, protecting ungrateful South Koreans.

Army Vet:

The US should pull out of South Korea, and let these pansies defend themselves against North Korea.

South Koreans are UNGRATEFUL and UNAPPRECIATIVE and do NOT deserve any more US soldiers dying defending thier sorry lazy online-game-playing behinds.

Let them fight the Korth Koreans themselves and see who is the most hungry for control of the penisula.

fyi, i am an American whose family members have died in the Korean War, protecting ungrateful South Koreans.

GI JOE:


The US needs to pull out of Korea.

The South Koreans are an UNGRATEFUL, UNAPPRECIATIVE, SELF-SERVING lot, and they should face North Korea by themselves.

UNGRATEFUL South Koreans do not deserve American soldiers dying on thier behalf. Enough US soldier have already died for these spoiled brats.

Those who are most hungry for victory achieve it, and there are alot of hungry North Koreans who would kick the pacifist lazy online-game-playing South Koreans like the pansies they are.

As an American, it would be a joy to watch.

Anonymous:


The US needs to pull out of Korea.

The South Koreans are an UNGRATEFUL, UNAPPRECIATIVE, SELF-SERVING lot, and they should face North Korea by themselves.

UNGRATEFUL South Koreans do not deserve American soldiers dying on thier behalf. Enough US soldier have already died for these spoiled brats.

Those who are most hungry for victory achieve it, and there are alot of hungry North Koreans who would kick the pacifist lazy online-game-playing South Koreans like the pansies they are.

As an American, it would be a joy to watch.

mike:

50cent CDs? That's one good reason to kick out Americans from South Korea for good. Levi Jeans? I stopped buying those when I learned the profit from those jeans are used to built settlements in israel. Rice cookers? What f..king American company makes rice cookers? If anything, rice cookers are made in Korea and imported to the US.

Anonymous:

I gotta say major FOOBAR on the things I'm reading here. Koreans try so hard to put on the best face. Only 2 years ago, after the Pittsburgh Steelers won the superbowl, Heinze Ward become a National hero for becoming the MVP in the Supebowl. How hypocritical. Even the Korean Times pointed out the irony of how mulatto or mixed koreans are treated and considered the bottom-dwellers of this society. Heinze Ward became quite the media darling, getting endorsments, and billboards all over Seoul. I have a lot of respect for Heinze Ward, as he gave all his earnings here to Korean charities.
It is true that the westerners here in Korea are not an accurate reflection of the people in their home countries. Of course, our alcoholics are represented here. Our unemployed college graduates are represented. The person neck deep in financial debt is here. I apologize, but I cannot give an accurate percentage of these people. But, on the contrary, the majority of Americans, could care less about leaving North America. Most of these westerners here in Korea are open-minded to other cultures. They learn to adapt. A lot of these discruntled westerners here in Korea have traveled in many countries other than Korea, across Asia, and the world. Adapting to other cultures and customs just seems to be more enjoyable and pleasing elsewhere. Anyone ever compare the difference between Korea and Japan? Or Korea to any country in southeast Asia? It's like night and day.
I came here years ago and submerged myself into the culture. There are many commendable customs here in Korea. Unfortunately, this is dying out. But, at the end of the day, I found that it is better to live and interact in the foriegn community. A korean says at the healthclub, "I like to have Western friends, so I can improve my engrishee." What's the difference if I say I want banker and investor friends so I can be rich? I agree, not all Koreans are like this. Ironically, the business people I teach on a regular basis complain about the same things most westerners complain about on a regular basis. These are the same business people that tell me that in order to get your cabby to take you where you want, you have to photograph there ID cards with your mobile and threaten to go to the police if they become difficult! I am grateful for this info, but is this way of being right?
I will also agree, that there are people that are very grateful for America. But these days, they are in the minority. Of course, the senior citizens remember starvation, and realize how close they came to becoming apart of a communist North Korea and the kind of life that would have followed. Gyopos that have been here for a couple of years after growing up in the States or other western countries, recognize the advantage, and appreciate the opportunity that is presented to them. For which begs the question: How genuine are your Korean friends? Business people realize the positives from an alliance with the US.
And lastly, we cannot forget about how grateful the productive English teacher is for the Americans presence (whether for imperialistic reasons or not). Where else in the world can a native speaker or Gyopo average $40-$60 an hour teaching their native tongue?
As for the other generations of Koreans, especially 30 and under, I am not feeling the love. Can you blame the average english teacher that is teaching kids to become discruntled when 7-8 year olds are saying "Go home Yankee", or "F@#$* you American"? Where do these young kids learn this language? Did Seung He Cho learn this in the public schools of the US? Bullying does not happen in Korea!?!
It is, what it is! We have unpleasant Americans in our country. At least every once in a while they'll cover their mouth before they cough in your face or at least they'll say "excuse me" rather than just trying to walk through you. If Korean fast food places can train the public to pour there finished sodas in one trash can, and separate their remaining trash. These people are definitely capable of learning some common courtesy, business etiquette, and how to be an all around more cordial society that they already try so hard to portray themselves to be.

Apples & Oranges:

Dear Richard,

Why do you compare the acts of a mentally ill civilian, Seung He Cho, to the acts committed by a military associated with a foreign government? Why would the Korean government have to apologize for the acts of a civilian who was raised in another country? Secondly, Seung He Cho grew up in the US since the age of 8; he spent his developmental years in America. This is where he learned right & wrong. Guns are permitted and violence is accepted as a way of life. The Korean government has NOTHING to do with his acts.

k:

Dear Anti-American SK
The US does do horrible things too many to list here. However, I think I might have a solution that will allow you to vent all your hatred. You can pack up your Levis jeans, 50cent CDs, and rice cookers and move to North Korea. If it wasn't for the US to to begin with would there even be a North and South Korea? The fact that the US has done so much good doesn't out weigh the bad things its' done. It's my opinion that the US should leave the other countries to their own fate. Countries like SK don't deserve the support of the US.

someone:

To the on going negative readers of this article you are obviously looking for something in your life or you would not be reading this wonderful story. When you say these typical christians, obviosly you think just because we are christians we can do anything how sweet of you but here is a little bit of education for you we are human we make mistakes everyday just like you but thank you for thinking that we are perfect and we dont sin or make mistakes because we do sorry but we do. It is ok that you do not believe i dont judge you because you do not believe (i wish you did believe)but that is your choice and that is the beauty of choice God gave us that freedom of choice he also wishes you would choose him as well. Back to the question i asked at that begining of this comment when you say typical christian yes there are some christians who make horrible mistakes or even mean to make mistakes for there own glory or benifit yes that is wrong but it makes me sad that you only came across those tyoical bad christians, i will tell you not all are bad.

Korean-American perspective:

I have been reading the posts and responses of this article with great interest. I was born in Korea, raised most of my life in NYC and returned to Korea almost five years ago. I think I may have a bit of insight into how both sides see each other.

First off, most Koreans do not hate Americans. In fact, most Koreans not only appreciate what the US has done but many times look to the US for leadership. This includes not only the older generation but the younger generation as well. However, this leadership has not been there in the past decade or so. There are many who do not agree with current American political direction. This is not only a Korea specific issue. the US has not made many friends the past 3 administrations (Bush-Clinton-Bush) and rightly so. The politics of it government is reflected in many of the US citizens here as well. Many of whom are loud, ignorant, arrogant, who believe that because they come from the world's only superpower they have carte blanche to do and act however they please, even in someone else's country. This is exactly the type of behavior that goes against all Koreans, old or young. In fact that type of behavior and stereotypical American is disliked the world over from talking to people on my travels. It is unfortunate because most Americans are not that way. I think many of the ones that come to Korea, whether teachers or the military are not an accurate sample of "average" Americans. The media definitely fuels the fire, but thats what media does in every society.

Korea and America have had a mutually beneficial relationship the past 50 years or so. I stress the word mutual because it's evident on how much Korea has depended on America since the Korean War. But at the same time America doesn't give out many free lunches. America has benefited from cheap labor, a fair trading partner to sell it's goods, and equally important in the eyes of America, a military presence in a key location on the doorstep of eastern Russia and China. America didn't decide to set up bases here because they thought Koreans were nice people that needed to be protected. It was advantages to them politically and militarily to have something on continental East Asia. Something that Japan or the Philippines do not offer. Both countries have benefited from this relationship. I think Korea would like to remain political and military allies, but would like that focus to shift from an anti-North Korean stance which many Koreans find to be an obstacle in friendlier ties with the North and even unification. Many Koreans believe that the US would like to remain on continental east Asia even after the cold war to deal with the new threat of a powerful China. The only way they can do this is to make sure they can keep their bases in Korea by keeping north and south Korea separated. All South Koreans do not like the government in North Korea. However, they universally feel sorry for the citizens there and feel they are the same family. Many Koreans feel that if the US would stop intervening on the peninsula that Korea would be closer to unification.

Lastly, I would like to address some of the statements criticizing Koreans. The problem that many people have in Korea are that they believe the world has to be exactly the same to where they are from. They assume that their definition of rudeness or politeness is the same the world over. Many of these people are the same people that after living in Korea for a year or even 5 have made no effort to learn the language or make any native friends. The only contact they have with natives are in subways or in markets dealing with strangers. I know because in many ways, I was like this when I first arrived. I believed I would be here for a year or so and then be back in the US. Korea is not unlike any other developing country. There are good people and bad people. There are those that only look after themselves and those that go out of their way for others. Korea has a long history of being invaded by foreign countries. It is a little country that has survived for over 4000 years by working together. Because of this, Koreans tend to have a lot of pride, they tend to group together, they tend to be wary of outsiders. This is a country that was still predominately a agricultural economy where food was very scarce only 30 years ago. Much of this culture survives today. It's a very straightforward and practical society that can be quite frustrating at times to an outsider. If someone is not flexible enough to adapt to it then they will always remain an outsider and never fully appreciate what Korea really is about.

Vic van Meter:

Somewhere, somehow, everyone stops riding their high horses, kisses the dirt, and sees what reality is.

The Koreans don't hate Americans any more than Americans hate Koreans. Sure, here in the states, you can find enough people who will talk about how terrible the Koreans are. Of course, these people are more than likely going to say the same thing about everyone other nation's citizens. It's a thing called xenophobia, and it tends to skew your perceptions into thinking that there's some kind of common sentiment that we can lump together. A lot of the nations that "hate" us don't necessarily hate US, but our government's policies. Even then, that's a stretch in and of itself.

So, once you're off the high horse, kiss the dirt, because America isn't going to leave Korea alone, and South Korea wouldn't honestly want them to anyway.

South Korea is a sort of proxy state to the United States that has worked its legs strongly enough to be individual. That, in and of itself, is one of America's legacy points. Comparing North Korea to South Korea, it's pretty easy to see that the US presence there has done the South Koreans a decent bit of good. At least America hasn't simply kept Korea as a buffer state. It hasn't been perfect, but what has?

Meanwhile, the South Koreans have stood up and really don't need US support as much anymore (the nonmilitary support, mind you). And thus the dilemma. North Korea is tight as tupperware and a lot of Koreans in the south have family above the DMZ. Obviously, they're concerned for the well-being of their family up there, considering that the South Korean grind life is a lot better than the crushing poverty in Kim's land. South Korea, then, has exerted its influence. True, they aren't forcing the United States away. Not in a million years would they do something that stupid, especially since the North Korean military isn't faltering for supplies. China's kept a leash on the dog for some time, but South Korea's just not a pet of the United States.

Hence the balancing act. On the one hand, the South Koreans are keeping their relationship with America pretty neatly. They don't want to jeapordize our friendship. But they've made sure they are the final word on force in the Asian Pacific. Bush took us idiots to war in Iraq on the possibility of a nuclear threat. South Korea stayed the swords even though North Korea tested one. South Korea is up there with Japan, and it really makes the east a really hot place to be. It's not exactly a cold war, given that America and China tend to be at least cooly cordial, but that arena is a tight diplomatic spot as China backs a few countries and America backs the others.

Japan and South Korea are now large powers who are big enough to walk on their own. They aren't forgetting America's past assistance, but we can't exactly order them around anymore. So America is going to have to cut away and let the South Koreans decide how much force to use, when to use us, and basically support them when they ask us to.

Likewise, the South Koreans I've ever spoken to have nothing but nice things to say about America (I'm American though, so you never know what they're not telling me). Sometimes it's been interesting, but to think that the South Koreans want us out or that we'll abandon them entirely are both completely stupid ideas. American influence will decrease, Korean influence will increase, and South Korea is going to be one of America's big success stories. Not bad after a war America doesn't always acknowledge that ended in an armistice that never really was drawn down. We'll be lucky if we can pull that off in Iraq.

Sorry to be so off topic, since this is about our minister above. But all the spitting back and forth is a little pointless. The reality is that both nations have a lot to gain from each other, and neither is going to do anything really stupid.

John:

Thank God, or Buddha or whoever you like for the final comment by BQ

I have been in this wonderful and chaotic city (Seoul) for 6 months and have been doing all I can to understand the culture of the nation and to treat everyone I meet with respect. In return, I believe, I have been treated with reciprocal respect. And so I have come to love these people, as far as it is possible to generalise.

I read through all of the articles above, feeling increasingly disturbed by the levels of racism and self righteousness.

BQ has a good point I think. You get back what you give out. All the 'foreigners' I meet who are disgruntled and disaffected with this place are mostly just disgruntled and disaffected with their lives anyway. I think it is called 'projection'.

As for the Americans - they seem to have done a lot of good here in the past.It may have had an element of self interest. It is worth noting that the American government of today is not the government that helped Korea in the early 50's, and so the motivations may have changed.

Some Americans who are here now are well intentioned. Some are not. Some of the business enterprises are beneficial some are not. I do wish they would stay out of the politics of other countries, and I do wish their media would not project the idea that American lifestyle and style of democracy is the only one worth having.

And I do wish they were not introducing addictive fat-filled western style fast food. Lets do some statistics on the increase in average body weight in Korean teenagers from before the introduction of McDonalds to now and into future years.

BQ:

Some big generalizations have been made here.

My wife and I arrived in Korea 2 weeks ago and we have been treated with kindness and respect by virtually everyone we've met. We came from SE England which we both regard as being one of the rudest and inhospitable places on earth. It's centrepiece, London, can be a great place for a good night out but it can also be desperately self-centred, impersonal and aggressive too. I've met Swedish people who find France to be intolerably rude and Dutch folk who use phrases like "as rude as a German." Needless-to-say, I've usually been treated extremely well in either France or Germany.

In my experience, you generally get as good as you give wherever you are. Now I'm in Korea, I'm on someone else's turf and so I smile and acknowledge as many strangers as I can. This, in turn, is almost always met by kindness. Some Koreans conclude that England must be an incredibly friendly place. Some Koreans tell me they've been to London and found the UK to be an incredibly well-mannered place; but they've probably encouraged that hospitality by smiling and acknowledging as many strangers as they can. I, on the other hand, will return home and fall into the trap of scowling the way that all southern English do to one-another. Eventually, I'll re-adopt the (flawed) position that the southern English are the most intolerably unpleasant people on earth.

Eventually, if you stay in Korea long enough, I imagine you might fall into the trap of scowling occasionally. Someone might take advantage of you, and you might find it difficult not to eyeball them back. You get on the metro and tut at the guy who barged his way on without first letting you off. Before you know it, you've ascribed being rude and impersonal as a Korean trait. It's incredibly easy to do but it's dangerously flawed. You can find people rooted in their own miserable, depersonalised space wherever you go in the world. And you'll also find that they'd be delighted to be given the opportunity to jump out of it.

Generalizing attributes at a national level is a fools game. Put simply, most people have the same needs in life. We can chose to manifest kindness in strangers, or hostility.

Marty, the leader of the Scottish parliament respresents the Scottish National Party and has predicted devolution within the next ten years. England and Ireland have fought over Northern Ireland for decades. When in Glasgow, don't arbitrarily pick sides in the Rangers-Celtic derby just to look like a local. You might want England, Ireland and Scotland as your neighbours but you'd be best advised keep them apart. And you might want to think about the drunken fighting besieging every English town centre every Friday and Saturday night. It looks nice from a distance, I know, but it can get quite tiring.

Joe:

S. Korea was one of the most pro-American nations during the 60's and 70's but it has started turning against America during the 80's. It peaked during the 2002 presidential election. Some politicians brought out the issue of 2 girls being killed to bring out the votes in 2002.

In my opinion, many Koreans were turned away by US's constant support for military dictatorship in Korea (Park Jung Hee, Chun Doo Hwan, Noh Tae Woo).

I do see things changing but two things should happen.

1. US should stay out of Korean internal politics. No more support for dictators like Chun ever again. (Korean perception is that US support US interest over Korean democracy and will support any dictorship if it supports US interests.)

2. More transparent judicial system to prosecute crimes committed by US personnel. Only the most heinous crimes are prosecuted now and no one knows how many of them actually serve out the time-probably none. There should not be any appearance of "above the law" perception in Korea.

Ricky:

I have to agree with my church leader. As a university teacher in Korea I am amazed at the generosity the older Koreans extend to Westerners. Especially when you consider the history here. Few westerners realize that the Americans sponsored the Japanese colonization of Korea. This was done in order to obtain Japanese support for the Americans as they went into the Philippines. Is it any wonder that this disregard created the oppositional force that became North Korea. When the country was divided by the UN the US forces put the Japanese occupation forces back in charge. Koreans are gracious enough not to bring this up in conversation. Bt that does not mean it did not happen. Americans have a dept of 2 million lives here. How can you ever repay that. But at least you should do something decent this time.

Marty North:

"I just want to let you know that not all americans are like this richard and MARTY fellows, who seem like your typical ignorant GOP voters. I am very ashamed of all the bad things my country does overseas, including South Korea; and want to apologize to you."

I'm a Canadian. I'll stick by the USA, our best friend and next-door-neighbour.

Westerner:

I still think that we should get out of south korea, the south koreans have the money to be able to defend themselves. Let's move our military to where we strategically need them to be. Let the anti-american south koreans fend for themselves.

Also, all these atheists aren't atheists as much as they are christian haters. If they were really atheists, they wouldn't give a damn what christians anywhere in the world are doing.

Anonymous:

Koreans will not let people of other ethnicities into some nightclubs.

They will rip off foriegners in the electronics market.

Just go to daves esl board and see what majority of english teachers think of koreans and the BS they have to deal with.

Koreans just want to know english to better themselves.

Koreans want everything western, except for the westerners. Give us your "engrishee" language, your MTV, hiphop music, McDonalds, TGI Fridays, and anything that has to do with keeping up with the "Jones", but get of our country.

USA, you did enough, we have our warcraft and PC rooms.

No thanks for coming out.

Marty North:

In addition to the countries I would like to have next door: Israel, Sweden, Norway, England, Scotland, Ireland........

Israel is certainly not among those I fear........

Marty North:

In addition to the countries I would like to have next door: Israel, Sweden, Norway, England, Scotland, Ireland........

Israel is certainly not among those I fear........

JT:

The fact that some people like Rev Cho like America is really irrelevant. Even in countries that are vehemently anti American there are a few people who like America. The fact is that the majority of Koreans do not like the US, mistrust the US and do not want US troops stationed in their country. If for no other reason than they do not want a US presence in their country the US should withdraw all of its military forces from Korea. We should allow the South Koreans to defend themselves and chart their own policies toward North Korea without US influence. While a reunified Korea, whether under the influence of the North or the South, would affect US interests it would not impact on our vital interest to such an extent that we should continue our military presence in South Korea.

Anonymous:

Soon,

Yes, *some* US Soldiers represents America horribly. However, the majority embrace Korean culture and understand that they are ambassadors for the US. As for the girls, there were signs on that road that the 2 girls were walking on that warned them of large military vehicles passing through. If I recall, I don't think they were supposed to be walking on that bridge anyways? Besides, where were you in Taegu when a Korean girl falsely accused one of MY Soldiers for rape, almost ending his career and ruining his life? And no, she did not know him either, she just wanted to cry wolf and my Soldier was the unfortunate victim because he is black. Where were you when your OWN KOREAN SOLDIER RAPED HIS SUBORDINATE, A FELLOW KOREAN SOLDIER? Bet you didn't hear that in the Korean news.

Even the Korean Soldiers said that the Korean papers lie about political issues dealing with American Soldiers (ie. expansion of CP Humphreys in Pyeontaek) The older Korean veterens were upset about the protests because they knew how it was like under Communist rule. Protest leaders begin protests as a step for their political career. Some Korean big-wig even invited Cindy Sheehan to Korea for a protest...like she knows what she's talking about!

There *is* a reason the US is stationed in Korea. Ignorant comments like Soon's and endless protests makes me wish the entire US troop pull out of S. Korea and leave S. Korean troops to train and protect themselves. They'll see a unified Korea - under Communism. The younger S. Korean generation doesn't want our help anyhow.

bd:

koreans will realise too late when they lose their distinct beautiul culture and emulate the Americans. They will have nothing to show for it.

Now they ae trying to "save" the africans and asians. However they are tribalists and bigoted. The have an utter disdain for other ethnics

Anonymous:

"As a matter of fact, Israel has attacked its neighbors more than the other three countries combined. "

Of course I should have known the Israel bashers would come out even for something like this. I love how the liberals never raise a finger against Israel's neighbors whose atrocities are too many to name.

How many times has Israel been attacked by their neighbors?

Mike D.:

His church is huge. It must be good. Bigger always means better. Especially with God. The bigger your church, the more God must love you.

This character has the American way down pat, doesn't he? Sheesh...

"megachurch" -- an Orwellian term if I ever heard one.

Big Mike:

A couple of things:

1.) I'm an American in the US Military, stationed in Japan. I've spent significant time in Korea and have spent quite a bit of time with Koreans and Americans stationed in Korea.

2.) I'm a liberal and have voted Democrat in nearly every election of my life. I'm not your typical flag waving conservative.

3.) Nearly every American military guy stationed in Asia does not want to be here. If we had our druthers, we'd leave. The people are generally rude racists who will turn you away based solely upon the color of your skin.

4.) The governments of Japan and South Korea are the ones who want us here. When President Roh asked us to leave South Korea, we said that we'd be gone in under a year. He panicked and changed his mind because Korea and Japan are unable to care for themselves militarily. Using accidents as political haymaking is cheap and those who will believe it are sheep for being so easily swayed.

5.) Any Korean who forgets the sacrifices that thousands of Americans made on their behalf is ignorant. My grandfather did not want to go to Korea and leave his young wife behind, but he did. Your very freedom from oppression is on our backs. Maybe we should have left Japan in power. I'm sure 'comfort women' would have appreciated that. Maybe we should have let the Communists overrun the south. The US Marines who died at Inchon would at least still be alive - they might even have grandchildren by now. We'll leave - this very year - if you ask us too. Just don't be upset when the 'Great Leader' Kim Jong Il forces your subservience.

Big Mike:

A couple of things:

1.) I'm an American in the US Military, stationed in Japan. I've spent significant time in Korea and have spent quite a bit of time with Koreans and Americans stationed in Korea.

2.) I'm a liberal and have voted Democrat in nearly every election of my life. I'm not your typical flag waving conservative.

3.) Nearly every American military guy stationed in Asia does not want to be here. If we had our druthers, we'd leave. The people are generally rude racists who will turn you away based solely upon the color of your skin.

4.) The governments of Japan and South Korea are the ones who want us here. When President Roh asked us to leave South Korea, we said that we'd be gone in under a year. He panicked and changed his mind because Korea and Japan are unable to care for themselves militarily. Using accidents as political haymaking is cheap and those who will believe it are sheep for being so easily swayed.

5.) Any Korean who forgets the sacrifices that thousands of Americans made on their behalf is ignorant. My grandfather did not want to go to Korea and leave his young wife behind, but he did. Your very freedom from oppression is on our backs. Maybe we should have left Japan in power. I'm sure 'comfort women' would have appreciated that. Maybe we should have let the Communists overrun the south. The US Marines who died at Inchon would at least still be alive - they might even have grandchildren by now. We'll leave - this very year - if you ask us too. Just don't be upset when the 'Great Leader' Kim Jong Il forces your subservience.

moma:

Marty North...I see you forgot to put Israel on your list of countries that you're lucky to not have as neighbors, like Iran, China and NK. As a matter of fact, Israel has attacked its neighbors more than the other three countries combined. Just pointing out an omission. I'm also glad not to have Israel or North Korea as a neighbor.

niceday:

Soon

Unbelievable. The Koreans like other groups discriminate. Especially in Korea. They treat filipinos especially harsh. I saw it first hand when my plane was stopped in korea. A plane of filipinos had to stay in korea because there was a storm in philippines. They rounded up the filipinos and isolated them from other passengers, took away their passports and were trying to get them out of their country as soon as possible. And you have the gall to talk about the lunatic killer on virgina tech campus being tortured in the US? People in Glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Without the US South Korea would be North Korea, so you should also be a little more thankful.

Me:

Ha! Indeed. We didn't help the Koreans out of any altruistic streak. We did it because the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and we were afraid of the communist domino possibility. Now that doesn't mean the results of the actions should be tainted just because the motives weren't pure. The US did do a good thing, just don't start handing out saint hoods just yet.

Rory:

"I just want to let you know that not all americans are like this richard and marty fellows, who seem like your typical ignorant GOP voters. I am very ashamed of all the bad things my country does overseas, including South Korea; and want to apologize to you."

Hahaha, what a joke. It's pointlessly-apologizing silliness like this that just results in ever more unreasonable demands on the U.S. Simply put, without the U.S., there'd be a unified Korea all right - a communist one dominated by China. The U.S. saved South Korea from both the Japanese and from the Chinese-backed North Koreans because, quite simply, it was the right thing to do (it's funny how liberals' assumption that everything is about oil completely goes belly up when looking at the U.S.'s commitment to South Korea, which by the by we also entered under a U.N. mandate). Our soldiers are literally ready to die side by side with the South Koreans to protect them. It is clear that the history of the relationship between South Korea and America is one of exceptional and durable cooperation and mutual benefit, and neither has anything to apologize for. Rather we should be celebrating our common commitments to democracy. Trying to create some sort of microcosm of that relationship by reading into the actions of a mentally disturbed loner like the Virginia Tech shooter is absurd.

Where are the protests about how China turned on the U.S. in the Korean war, and continues to prop up Kim Jong-Il? They're even more scarce than the "Free Tibet" crowd that lost steam once the hippies realized the Chinese just don't care what they think, and actual effort might be involved in freeing the country. Effort? What's that? It's so much easier to just blame Bush for something. As usual, some of our own citizens critize our country for even the most illusory failings, while giving a pass to every other country for just about everything.

Quimster:

Mr. Bakshi, thanks for the article.

Ladies and Gents who've posted comments, very enlightening on both sides of the aisle. I for one am so very thankful that I serve a God who loves me unconditionally. And guess what? He loves all you bloggers too -- whether you accept it or not. Only a true God could love those who hate Him. His grace truly is AMAZING!

Happy New Year!

Amar C. Bakshi:

1958 is correct. According to his website as well as our interview:
http://english.fgtv.com/yoido/history.htm

Amar C. Bakshi:

PhD candidate, email me and I can send you a complete transcript of our interview. He said 1958 to me, and is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his Church this May 18, I believe (this is also the time he intends to retire). Perhaps the Economist article is incorrect. I will try to contact Dr. Cho's office to get a final clarification for you, but from our conversation he clearly said 1958.

RichardN:

Soon:

You should read the news again about Cho. His grandmother thought he was retarded. He never spoke and acted normal when he grew up in Korea. His parents left Korea hoping for a better life for him and his sister. Look at his sister. She grew up in America. His sister grew up in the same environment as Cho and went to Princeton. She turned out normal. Many Koreans have immigranted to America and have turned out to be successful. Believe me, if Cho stayed in Korea, he would have be bullied and picked on too. In fact, bullying is a bigger problem in Korea than in the US. (I bet you would have bullied him.)

Yes, Mark (you need a life by the way), Americans have made mistakes everywhere, but American-bashing is not constructive. More Koreans die by drunken Korean drivers on a yearly basis than have died by US soldiers after the Korean War. Yet, the Korean media seems to highlight mistakes made by Americans more. They also demand that the President apologizes. Why? Did Bush ask Roh to apologize for Cho's massacre? No, because the Korean government was not responsible for the acts of an individual.

Marty North:

What a childish and personal series of posts here by someone clearly wishing to be tagged as an America-hater and a Christ-hater....followed by those who are pathetically baited into giving this tripe the dignity of a personal response.

I'm surprised that the moderator hasn't shut this poster down. There are rules about name-calling and spewing hatred are there not? If Mohammed were his target, his IP would be hunted down and it would be whipping time BEFORE the beheading.

Don't cast your pearls people...just ignore the hatred and tell the Truth. I say again, these posts are not worthy of a personal answer.

PhD candidate:

The article above mentions that:

"When he [pastor Cho] graduated in 1958, he started his own ministry in a tattered U.S. army tent[...]"

However, in the Economist,"O come all ye faithful",1st Nov. 2007:

"Mr Cho, who was converted to Pentecostalism from Buddhism by his nurse after he nearly died of tuberculosis, founded Yoido in 1956 [...]"

Which one is it? Is it 1956 or 1958? I need to know the exact time because of my research. Thank you for any help!

Anonymous:

It's ashame that Pastor Cho is in the minority when it comes recognizing the opportunities South Koreans have because of the help they recieved from the US. I lived in Seoul for 3 years, and on 2 occasions I have had an older generation Korean explain what life was like and how they think life would be if they were apart of a communist Korea. For the most part, I am left an impression of a racist korea that still believes in one blood, one nation. From cabbies discriminating who they pick up, to even public transportation from bus drivers. Koreans trying to tear down MacArthurs statue in Incheon is very insulting to the many Americans that lost their lives. Impatient Koreans running in front of traffic. The incident with the tank was tragic, but I think blame is to be shared by all parties involved. It's not like a I don't know how many ton tank can stop on the dime. But this is Korean-style. We really cannot expect much more from these people as they only think of themselves. This does not only apply to foriegners. They really don't have any respect for each other. So maybe they are not racist. Maybe they lack the common courtesy, manners that we in the most parts of the world come to expect. Where this behavior is the minority and not the norm. When trying to get off a subway and 5-7 people are pushing you back on because they can't wait in line to let others off. I have a hard time understanding this. But it's not only in everyday life, but in business as well. When you show up for an interview at the requested time and the korean says, "So sorry, can you come back in 2 hours." These instances are the norm, and not he exception. It's kind of surreal how we accept this behavior because we are in Korea, where we are not surprised when this happens, where we would not tolerate this in most parts of the world and cannot recollect of these types of things happening in other countries, whether China, Japan, in Europe, North America, Australia. The Chinese and Japanese are very cordial people. Where is this behavior from? If society does not take it upon themselves to educate their own people on how to act, ettiquette, and common courtesy, then we have an example of what the end product is.

Arvind:

Agree with the above poster that this article is about someone liking America but the bloggers her attacking his religious convictions.
Come on folks, finally someone in Bakshi's columns who likes USA. Bakshi, stay away from Muslim countries.

Anonymous:

Mark
why do you want to so bash on Christians? Why? Because you believe you are so senseless and powerless that you cannot go help others yourself that you have to rely on other people to do it for you? If God was to stop Cho at Virginia Tech then he would have to take away free will. Aren't you one of those people that was kill for freedom? Then why are you blaming other people. Why didn't you try to do something?
You see how sad this sounds "Why didn't you try to do something?"?
I just feel pity that you feel so insecure that you have to go and publicly abuse some other people's belief so that you can satisfy yourself.

Anonymous:

What is up with the people writing the comments? Here, one of the most influencital man in the world, whether Christian or not is saying that America is good and is preaching that Koreans should not forget what America has done for us and all you have to say is that Christians are phonies? Is that really all you can say?
I am a Korean, but I agree that there are many other Koreans abroad that are not doing what they should be doing. That does not mean that everybody are the same. There are criminals and wrongdoers in ever nationality, you cannot argue against that.
If you are gonna bash on the Christians then why did you read this article in the first place?

Erik, I grant you that miracles are hard to believe, but that does not mean you can go and belittle Christian you meet.

Mark, aren't people the ones that call for disasters? We go to war because we are greedy. We play video games that encourage death and murder. We disobey God's commands every opportunity we get, but you are saying that God is the problem in the disasters going on?
And when Paster Cho hired a woman with a comb to brush his hair and instead of using that money to help the needy from the hurricane and tsunami you are assuming that he did not do anything to help those people. I ask you, did you do anything about it? For your information, he did help.

Why does the conversation have to go there? The article was about how Cho likes America and you are assuming that Cho is a bad person because he is a Christian. How pathetic!!!

mark:

wow, soon...waht a great rebuttal! I just want to let you know that not all americans are like this richard and marty fellows, who seem like your typical ignorant GOP voters. I am very ashamed of all the bad things my country does overseas, including South Korea; and want to apologize to you. Once we get some decent politicans in the white house, we can start fixing some of the wrongs.

soon:

RichardN:

You are so desparate, you have to bring up Cho Seung Hui whose story has been much covered in the papers here in Korea. Cho Seung Hui was good boy when he was growing up in Seoul. But when he went to America as a small child, the nasty Americans tortured him so much because of his race that he lost his mind and had no option but to strike back at the animals who made his life a living hell. America even made it easy for a psychological patient like him to buy a gun. Whose fault is it? The psychological patient who lost his mind or America? I think we should all feel sorry for Seung Hui and how he was treated in America and that he had to die at such a young age because of America. I am not a mindless sheep like Americans who voted for a moron like George W. Bush twice.

Marty North:

The hypocrisy of mimicking / hating the USA, the world's number-one, most generous nation, seems to be without bounds.

When it comes to hating nations, it is easy to think of at least a half-dozen or more which deserve that sentiment a hundred times more than the USA, and so can anyone who shoves pride, envy, and jealousy out of the way.

It's easy to 'get on the bandwagon' of popular world opinion, spew hatred, burn the flag, and receive the plaudits of the crowd.

To hell with the hate crowd, I'll stick with the USA, and this, I write as a Canadian citizen, thankful that I don't have China, Russia, Iran, or North Korea for a next-door-neighbour!

RichardN:

Soon:

The US military did not "intentionally" crush the two girls. It was a tragic accident caused by negligence, malfunctioning communications equipment and poor leadership. There was no intent. Unlike the time, Korean hooligans stabbed a U.S. Army officer in the back soon after the two girls died. Now, that was intentional. Where were you when the stabbing occurred?

Soon, why don't you open your eyes? After the Virginia Tech massacre, did the U.S. blame Korea for the deaths even though Cho was technically a Korean national??? No. The average U.S. citizen correctly concluded it was the act of a deranged madman. Cho's race and ethnicity had nothing to do with it. In the same way, the girls' death had nothing to do with the girls being Korean and the soldiers being American. It was an accident. However, South Korean politicians love to play the "Jingoism card" and use the acts of U.S. military members in Korea as scapegoats to get leverage in trade or SOFA negotiations. Don't forget former President Roh used the girls' death to eventually win the presidency. And mindless sheep, like you Soon, follow what the politicians say.

RichardN:

Soon:

The US military did not "intentionally" crush the two girls. It was a tragic accident caused by negligence, malfunctioning communications equipment and poor leadership. There was no intent. Unlike the time, Korean hooligans stabbed a U.S. Army officer in the back soon after the two girls died. Now, that was intentional. Where were you when the stabbing occurred?

Soon, why don't you open your eyes? After the Virginia Tech massacre, did the U.S. blame Korea for the deaths even though Cho was technically a Korean national??? No. The average U.S. citizen correctly concluded it was the act of a deranged madman. Cho's race and ethnicity had nothing to do with it. In the same way, the girls' death had nothing to do with the girls being Korean and the soldiers being American. It was an accident. However, South Korean politicians love to play the "Jingoism card" and use the acts of U.S. military members in Korea as scapegoats to get leverage in trade or SOFA negotiations. Don't forget former President Roh used the girls' death to eventually win the presidency. And mindless sheep, like you Soon, follow what the politicians say.

Soon:

Someone ought to ask this lowlife where he was when the U.S. military intentionally crushed two sweet innocent korean teenagers with their humvees.

SEAN:

Eric:
I doubt it was superstition. It was more likely to be money and parental negligence. The cost of therapy is the reason that most people don't get adequate mental health care. Psychiatrist cost money. Preachers will see you for free. You get what you pay for.

Mark:
Maybe God treats us the same way that we treat a Sims game. Maybe he set the rules (gravity, sin, etc) and lets us go at it and then now and then when it suits him he comes down and gets involved.

Seems to me that as the population increases his involvement may be diminishing. I feel the same way when I play Railroad Tycoon and I build too many trains. You spend less time at the micro level and more time at the macro level.

mark:

Hi, this is Mark again. Question to Christian fundies, where was your God during Hurrican Katrina and the Tsunami.

Answer: .

i bet this david cho guy didn't spend a dime on any of the tsunami survivors, but used to money instead to hire a woman to comb his wispy hair, which I bet is dyed. Typical christians.

mark:

hey diggleberries! if God was so great, why did He let Cho kill all those innocent students? Your God sounds like a total loser, that is if He exists at all.

Erik:

I was not equating this Cho with the Cho Seung Hui I was not casting any aspersions on Cho Yonggi, but rather on the superstitions that cause one person to say "Christ healed my TB" and another person to say that thousands of cranes fetched Kim Il-Sung's body to carry him away after his death.

Belief in magic pixies didn't cause Cho Seung Hui to do his evil, but superstitions that flew in the face of rationality prevented him from getting adequate care.

pwcarter:

ERIK wrote
"By the way, despite how the article is written, Christ didn't "appear in a vision and heal Cho." The Cho of this piece apparently recovered from tuberculosis, and he attributes that to his praying to a god."

ERIK, from the above comments, we can assume that you are a card-carrying atheist, who takes pleasure in belittling Christians and people of other faiths. How do you know that Christ did not appear to Cho "in a vision" and heal him? Were you there and a part of the vision? He did NOT pray to "a god", but to Jehovah God almighty. Only an evil mind can connect Dr. David Cho with the mentally ill Cho at Virginia Tech.

RichardN:


Your generalization is out-of-whack.

Saying that Rev. Cho and Virginia Tech Cho are somehow related or similar is like saying Eric Harris of the Columbine Massacre and the Steelers' Franco Harris are related because they have the same last name.

Anonymous:

mm

Anonymous:

Erik,
1. Nothing but ignorance explains your random association of the Virgnia Tech shooter with Paster Cho.

2. What you call communist fanaticism is only similar to christian fanaticism in terms of its fervent nature. What is bad about being a devout religious person? Or anyone who is really excited about anything??? Is it the fanatacism you dislike or communism or is it the christians? What mishap have devout christians caused in South Korea that is in any way similar to North Korean communists?

3. As for Cho's miraculous healing; I agree it's hard to believe but does unlikeliness equal impossibility? If Cho wants to believe that his praying cured him of TB, is that so bad and who are you to judge?

Please be more cautious of your associations. Pastor Cho and VA Tech Cho are two very different people- this is a very immature argument and a irrelevant contrast.

Also, christianity is not the same as communism. I would advise you to read your history books before commenting in generalizations.

Erik:

The fanaticism of North Koreans holding on to their fantasies about their Dear Leader despite all evidence to the contrary is matched by the fanaticism of South Korean Christians, particularly Protestants. Recall another Cho, whose mental illness was attributed to demons, and whose parents rejected medical treatment in lieu of religious "treatment".

By the way, despite how the article is written, Christ didn't "appear in a vision and heal Cho." The Cho of this piece apparently recovered from tuberculosis, and he attributes that to his praying to a god.

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