Saturday, July 11, 2009

Awake! Experience - Chong-il Park - part 2

(1952 -visiting congregations with Don Steele during the war)

-part two-

In October 1956, I received an assignment to serve at the offices of Jehovah's Witnesses in South Korea. Then, in 1958, I was again invited to Gilead. At my graduation I was assigned back to Korea. Sometime after returning to Korea, I met In-hyun Sung, a faithful Witness, and we were married in May 1962. She had grown up in a Buddhist family and had learned about the Witnesses from a classmate. For the first three years of our marriage, we visited a different congregation in Korea each week with the goal of strengthening its members spiritually. Since 1965 we have worked at the Witnesses' branch office, now located about 40 miles from Seoul.

Reflections Regarding Changes
As I look back, I am amazed to see how much has changed in this country. After the second world war and the war with North Korea, South Korea was reduced to little more than rubble. Cities and roads lay in ruins. Electricity and heat were sporadic at best. And the economy was in shambles. In the ensuing 50 years, South Korea has made a remarkable recovery. Today South Korea boasts the 11th-largest economy in the world. It is renowned for its modern cities, high-speed rail system, electronics, and auto-manufacturing acumen. South Korea now ranks as the world's fifth-largest car manufacturing country. But on special significance to me are the strides made in South Korea respecting the human rights of South Korea's citizens...

(Chong-il with In-hyun Sung today)

When I was court-martialed in 1953, the Korean government did not understand the concept of conscientious objection. Some of us were accused of being Communists, and a few of our fellow Witnesses were beaten to death. Many who were imprisoned as conscientious objectors when they were young men have seen their sons, and even their grandsons, go to prison for the same reason. In the last several years, the media has given generally favorable coverage to incidents involving the conscientious objection of Jehovah's Witnesses to participation in the military affairs of any country. One lawyer who had prosecuted a Witness conscientious objector even wrote an open letter of apology for what he had done, and it was published in a well-known magazine.
I hope that our right of conscientious objection will be respected in South Korea as it is in many other countries. I pray that authorities of South Korea will accommodate individuals who have convictions like mine and end the practice of sending young conscientious objectors to prison, "in order that we may go on leading a calm and quiet life." (1 Timothy 2:1, 2) As servants of our God, Jehovah, we treasure the opportunity to uphold his right to be our Ruler. (Acts 5:29) Our wholehearted desire is to make his heart rejoice as a result of our faithfulness to him. (Proverbs 27:11) I am happy that I am among the millions who have chosen to 'trust in Jehovah with all our heart and not lean upon our own understanding.' (Proverbs 3:5, 6)

*this is the same brother who is featured at the beginning of the video news release about Korea on the website for anyone who hasn't seen it yet here's the link:
this is a cute video made by a brother in the Kwangju Congregation in South Korea:
Happy Together