Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.

Now Blogging Afresh at Ad Orientem 西儒 - The Western Confucian

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Observations on Catholic Converts

Karl Keating, Catholic apologist par excellence, in his latest E-Letter, observes the following about Catholic converts:
"Have you ever noticed the attitudinal difference between those who convert to the Catholic faith and those who abandon it and convert to some other faith?

"The convert to Catholicism comes into a bit of serenity. He is able to look at things at arm's length. He sees the good in the faith he left, and he appreciates that good. That it was admixed with error he regrets, but he is not so unsure or fearful in his new state that he fails to acknowledge the good found in his former religion."

How true! I have a much deeper appreciation for the adherence to the liturgy and the conservative orthodoxy of the The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod now as a Catholic than I ever did as a young man growing up in that tradition. And although never a formal member, I can say the same for the Anglican Communion, which provided me a kind of six-year way-station between Protestantism and Catholicism. While I recognize their shortcomings, I can now also recognize the elements of truth, the Catholic elements, that these traditions have proudly upheld since the Reformation.

I can also more fully appreciate the strengths of Christian groups I was never a part of: the devotion to scripture of Evangelicals, the devotion to the Spirit of Pentecostals, and even the charity of the Mainstream (Liberal) Protestants. I can even appreciate elements of non-Christian religions: the traditionalism of Judaism, the austere monotheism of Islam, the detachment of Buddhism, even the sensuality of Hinduism.

This does not mean that I embrace some sort of touchy-feely, sentimental, and false ecumenism or syncretism. While fully recognizing the errors of these religions, it is by the light of the Catholic Faith that I can see the truths, however partial, these other faiths contain and strive for. We believe that Catholicism alone has the whole of the truth, a rather scandalous claim in an age of relativism.

Karl Keating goes on to compare the convert to Catholicism with the convert from Catholicism:
"How often it is the opposite when the traffic is in the other direction! I can't remember ever reading complaints about their former faith by new Catholics, but I have read countless complaints about Catholicism by people who used to be loyal to Rome.

"The convert from Catholicism often is in a position not unlike that of the young man who, after jilting his girlfriend, finds that he can't say anything kind about her. Suddenly, all her lights are shadows; he must have been blinded or tricked by her to have given her any regard."

The apostate, by mistakenly rejecting the Church, can see no good in her. She is at best a source of repression and at worst the "Whore of Babylon." The sincere apostate must reject the Church in her entirety.

I must distinguish the sincere apostate from those who abandon the Faith not out of conviction, but rather out of convenience, e.g. those who feel offended that the Church will not conform to their own personal moral choices. These might say, "I'd still be Catholic if only they'd affirm my homosexual lifestyle, my irregular marriage, my whatever..."

I have a great deal more respect for the former than the latter.

Still Banned!

Here's the best article yet on the South Korean Internet clampdown: South Korea's post-mortem politics
Restrictions on Muslims by Muslims

Chaos if Muslims allowed religious freedom

The above article comes from Malaysia, where I lived in 1996 and 1997. There, like in many Islamic countries, Muslims are not allowed to convert out of the Muslim faith.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The New Christianity

From A New Christianity Is Conquering the Developing World. But Europe Doesn’t Know It Yet:
The new Christianity is puritanical, visionary, and missionary. It is at the opposite extreme of liberal culture. It is a challenge for the Catholic Church – and it makes Ratzinger and the pope tremble, too.

This article is another mind-blower from Sandro Magister at www.chiesa. Most interesting is his description of what an utter failure Marxist-intinged Liberation Theology has been in Latin America. Even with its "option for the poor," the poor are instead opting for Pentacostalism.
Family Suicides

Re: Three Family Members Believed to Have Jumped to Death

One of the more disturbing trends in Korean society is the "family suicide." I have a sneaking suspicion that these are in reality murder-suicides, but that police and surviving family members choose not to investigate in order to save face for the dead. I don't know if I hope I'm wrong or right. Both prospects are equally disturbing.
Cho Se-hyon on Cannes, Michael Moore, and Anti-Americanism in South Korea

Re: [SEOUL Searcher]To make better movies

It's always a pleasure to read this man's columns. He never fails to restore my faith in Korea.
The Forgotten Korean Patriots

From [Opinion] Second Anniversary of the West Sea Battle:
"The late Lieutenant Commander Yoon Young-ha (skipper), petty officer first class Han Sang-kook, petty officer first class Hwang Do-hyun, petty officer first class Seo Hoo-won, seaman first class Park Dong-hyuk. I wonder how many people still remember the names of those young men who vanished in the June deep blue sea as scattered blossoms. “I regret that when June comes, everybody only remembers the World Cup and the middle-school girl incident. I cannot lift my head to the heroes of this country, with whom I lived together. Skipper sir, and other members, please forgive this incompetent deputy skipper.” This is part of what first lieutenant Lee Hee-wan (deputy skipper), who lost a leg in the fierce battle, wrote on the Internet in June of last year. Is it first lieutenant Lee who should be asking for forgiveness or the indifferent society that too easily forgets its fallen patriots?" [My boldface.]

Budaechigae also carries a post entitled West Sea: 29 Jun 2002 with the following photo and caption, which contains one more name that those listed above:

    Captain Yoon Young-Ha, 26 윤영하 소령 참수리 357정장
    Staff Sergeant Han Sang-kuk 한상국 중사
    Staff Sergeant Cho Chon-hyong, 26조천형 중사
    Staff Sergeant Hwang Do-hyon, 22황도현 중사
    Staff Sergeant Suh Hoo-won, 22서후원 중사
    Seaman Park Dong-hyuk (21), 박동혁 병장

Politicized Korean Classrooms

From [EDITORIALS]Propaganda for students:
"The Korea Teachers and Educational Workers Union has announced that it will designate this week as a special week to cherish the memory of Kim Sun-il, murdered in Iraq, and promote anti-war and peace in classes taught by its members."

Good First Step

[Korean] Judges call divorce too easy to obtain
The Vatican and the Jews in WWII

So thorough was the smear campaign against Pope Pius XII, this information will sadly do little to restore his honor:

Vatican Releases WW2 Letter on Helping Jews
Spc. Keith M. Maupin, Requiescat in Pace

Report: Iraqi Militants Kill U.S. Soldier
(Very Conservative) Bishop Robert Morlino of (Very Liberal) Madison, Wisconsin

In an examination of a specific local context, this article does much to illuminate the main ideas behind the national and even global "Culture War":

Critical Mass: Swimming in a sea of relativism, Bishop Morlino holds an eternal rope.
Gross Oversimplification

Re: Church condemns HBO celibacy film: The Catholic Church has condemned a documentary linking celibacy to child abuse scandals within the clergy.

In the hyper-sexualized post-Christian culture of the West, where Freudianism is the reigning dogma, the idea that celebacy leads to sexual abuse seems natural. We are animals after all, with sexual urges that need gratification, Freud tells us.

However, in reality it is our hyper-sexualized post-Christian culture that is responsible for sexual abuse. We are not animals. We are human beings. We are spirtual beings.

Celebacy is not unnatural. It is supernatural.
The Theotokos

From Revered icon returns home to Russia:

    The Tikhvin icon of the Mother of God
    is believed in Orthodox tradition to
    have been painted by St. Luke.

The Enemy

Oliver North, from Know your enemy:
"The War on Terror will not be won until America is united. And as long as Democrats target the Bush administration -- not the terrorists -- as the enemy, we are in trouble."

Monday, June 28, 2004

Catholic Condom Bigots!

Re: EU criticises Vatican's condom 'bigotry': The European Union has condemned Catholic Church "bigotry" over the use of condoms to fight HIV.

The Vatican, in daring to challenge the decadent post-Christian West's most sacred doctrine of sexual "liberation" (which is really slavery), has drawn the ire of the European Union.

Do condoms protect really against HIV/AIDS? Let's look at some facts comparing the Phillipines and Thailand:

In 1984, the Phillipines had 20 cases of HIV/AIDS; Thailand, 1.

To fight the disease, the Phillipines promoted pro-chastity/abstinence education (they're backward Catholics, y'know); Thailand, 100% condom use (they're a "liberated" playground for Eurohippies, y'know).

In 1998, the Phillipines (pop. 73 million) had 1,130 cases of HIV/AIDS; Thailand (pop. 61.6 million), 850,000!

The eugenicists of the International Planned Panethood Federation and the UN's WHO don't want you to know these facts, so enslaved they are to the doctrine of sexual "liberation."

[See An Amazing Success Story: Operation AIDS-Free Philippines and Telling the Truth: AIDS Rates for Thailand and the Philippines.]
On the Lighter Side

From A Crash Course in Tradition for Modern Korean Brides:

This traditionalist is always glad to see the old ways kept alive (as long as they don't involve violations of Natural Law).
The Way to the Dear Leader's Heart is through his Stomach

From Rich Taste in a Poor Country;
"Kim [Jong-il], 62, is becoming one of the world's most legendary gourmets — so much so that North Korea watchers believe the way to his psyche is through his stomach."
A Voice for the Dignity of Man

Pope: Torture should be outlawed
The New Black Holocaust

Re: Genocide in Sudan? Islamic group targets Black Christians

The fact that the persecuted are Christians and the persecutors Muslims does not bode well for the Darforese. Their sad reality violates the postmodern dogma that Christianity is the religion of oppression, slavery, and, dare I say, Dead White European males; while Islam is the religion of peace, liberation, and the "Sun People."
Red Persecution of Buddhists

Re: Viet Nam: Buddhist Dissident Leaves for Exile

The so-called Progressives in the West might notice this. When it's a Catholic Bishop or a Christian Montagnard being jailed or expelled, no one seems to care. [Those culturally imperialistic Christians deserve it after all!] Now that it is Buddhism, the religion du jour of Progressives in the West, that is being targeted, someone will surely take a stand, make and sell a t-shirt, and hold a rally.

N.B.: This blogger holds no ill will toward sincere Buddhists, only toward those Westerners who claim to be Buddhists without knowing any of the tenets of the faith. They seem to see Buddhism as a way to have religion without any discipline or value judgments, which is quite far from the truth.

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, found this out when his opinions against homosexuality were met with the disgust of Western Buddhists. When his book was to be published in the West, His Holiness went so far as to remove portions that denounced homosexuality.

I'm sure happy the Holy Father in Rome doesn't give a hoot what most American Catholics think when he issues an encyclical. We'd be Unitarians if he did!
Surprise! Two Days Early!

U.S. Transfers Sovereignty to Iraqi Govt.
A Sci-fi Idea

Re: Scientist Sees Space Elevator in 15 Years

Sounds cool, although a bit similar to the Tower of Babel on second thought.
Still Banned

Re: Korea Blocks 40 Web Sites to Bar Spread of Victim's Video

Katolik Shinja, and an untold number of other sites are still banned in the Republic of Korea (South, not North Korea). The number is much higher than 40, as I cannot open any of the innocent Catholic blogs from overseas listed on the sidebar without a proxy. It seems the government has blocked entire domains, i.e. blogger, blog-spot, blog-city, type-pad, etc., and counts those as "sites."

According to the above article, these are Mr. Kim Sun-il's final words, before being murdered:
"I want to live. I go to Korea."

Mr. Kim Sun-il does in fact now live, and we can safely hope that he went to a place much better than Korea. Requiescat in pace.

Before those last words, he was quoted as screaming:
"President Roh Moo-hyun! - This [the troop dispatch] is a mistake. Please, Korean people support me."

This seems to be the real reason behind the censorship of the "progressive" Roh administration.

The poor fellow seems to have believed that if he said the right things, he'd be spared. We can understand why he would think this. In his circumstances, very few of us wouldn't try to say the right thing to stay alive.

What is incomprehensible is that so many still think these terrorists are people with whom the civilized world can or even should negotiate. These are people who are not above killing their own co-religionists (from countries without troop commitments in Iraq) in the name of their cause (see Insurgents Threaten to Kill Pakistani and Al-Zarqawi group kidnaps 3 Turks, threatens to behead them). These people are homocidal maniacs.
Echoes of 1994

Re: N. Korea Nuclear Talks Conclude in China

I haven't commented at all on the latest round of talks on the North Korean nuclear issue. Perhaps I've caught the South Korean disease of just ignoring the problem and pretending it will go away.
Let Them Be One

The Pope: May Mary bring about the union of Catholics and Orthodox

I look forward to the day, when, as the Holy Father has said, "the Church can again breathe with both its lungs."

From: Entertainment Photos - Reuters:

Had these two jokers chosen to offend any other tradition besides the Judeo-Christian one, at best they'd be accused of "intolerance" and at worst charged with a hate crime.
Where's the Fatwa?

Re: Terrorist Groups' Betrayal of Islam

That the above article is from Tehran is a good sign. However, the question remains: if al-Zarqawi has betrayed Islam, why has there been no fatwa issued against him, à la Salman Rushdie?
Crowd Culture

William F. Buckley's latest, LONG LIVE THE PUBLIC, analyzes some recent public events in America, from the funeral of President Ronald Reagan to the opening of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911. I'm reminded of the best critique I've ever read of American society, Crowd Culture by Bernard Iddings Bell, which calls for "democratic elites" to restore America. We Americans, too, can be lemmings.

Sunday, June 27, 2004


As long as blogs are censored by the ROK government and I am forced to access my site via a proxy, it seems I will be unable to access reader comments.
Civil Society, not Democracy

If living in Korea has taught me anything, it is that so-called Democracy, so touted in my homeland, ain't all it's cracked up to be. Democracy can easily descend into Mobocracy, as we read in Fareed Zakaria's The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad. The Granola Conservative, in Away From Democracy, Toward Civil Society, successfully lumps so-called Democracy with "totalitarianism, communism, [and] fascism' in opposition to the Civil Society.
Still Censored

Re: Beheading Video Prompts Censorship Online: As Kim Seon Il's body returns home and Seoul braces for the political fallout, censorship takes hold

A friend of my wife's saw the video, and said that Mr. Kim Seon Il screams something about President Roh Moo-hyun as he is murdered. Perhaps that's the reason why the censorship has been enforced.
Bush is a Murderer!

So says this young lady protester, from In S. Korea, Grief Mixes With Anger: Close U.S. Ties Blamed For Troop Deployment:

Saturday, June 26, 2004

The Archbishop Speaks

Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis, quoted in Pro-Choice Catholics Told to Confess:
"We always have to remember that it's objectively wrong to vote for a pro-choice politician. People could be in ignorance of how serious this is. But once they understand and know this and then willingly do it, vote for a pro-choice candidate, then they need to confess that."

Blogging ist Verboten

It seems that not only Katolik Shinja, but ALL blogs from Blogspot, Typepad, and other known foreign blog URL's have been banned in Korea. Why? For fear that someone out there has a link to the video showing the beheading of Kim Il-sun.
Still Banned!

Katolik Shinja is still banned by the South Korean government, for the entirely unfounded fear that it might link to a video of the beheading of Kimn Sun-il. Sadly, this type of irrational and emotional over-reaction is not unexpected.
Dostoevsky on Capital Punishment

Pavle Jurodivyj of ξενιτεια has posted Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky's thoughts On Decapitation, in the form of an extended quote from my favorite of his novels, The Idiot, which I love despite its having Dostoevsky's fiercest diatribe against the Roman Catholic Church.

Friday, June 25, 2004


Today marks the 54th anniversary of the North Korean invasion of South Korea, which started the Korean War. In commemoration of this tragedy, I have begun to read The Korean War by Max Hastings.

Katolik Shinja Banned in Korea!

This blogger has been unable to access his blog since yesterday. This cryptic email message may provide the answer why:

    Since the Korean Ministry of Information and Communications banned blog urls suspected of passing along the Kim Seon Il video, I've accesed sites through U******.

    "I know this is unacceptable, but as a short term fix maybe we should pass this on as much as possible.


    "The K******G*"

[Names omitted to protect the innocent.]

Needless to say, this situation has me more than a little annoyed. As anyone can see by reading the posts below, I have offered no link to the video of the killing of Kim Sun-il; I have only offered outrage, condolences, and information. The only reason the Korean Ministry of Information and Communications could have for suspecting me is that I am a foreigner.

A few months ago, MBC, a state-funded Korean television network, famously broadcast images of the Nick Berg decapitation. The Korean media in many cases do not even mention that Kim Sun-il was beheaded.

I heard yesterday that the Korean Ministry of Information and Communications had made it illegal to link to the Kim Sun-il video on the Internet. It seems they have made a preemtive strike on this blog, which would never have any intention of linking to such an offensive video.

For those of you who are accessing this blog from outside of Korea, you are doing someting that is currently impossible here (although there are ways). I never thought I would meet Big Brother this way!

In the meantime, despite being banned, Katolik Shinja vows to blog on!

Thursday, June 24, 2004

The Vatican on Recent Developments in Asia

Rome condemns arrest of Chinese bishops/murder of Korean hostage

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Islam and Beheadings

Re: Reviving a symbol of terror: Historically, beheadings have been used to punish dissenters and display power

The article tries to downplay the link, but the fact that beheadings continue in the Islamic world from Suadi Arabia to the Phillipines cannot be glossed over.
Kim Sun-il, Requiescat in Pace

Re: Militants in Iraq Kill S. Korean Hostage

Kim Sun-il, may your souild rest in peace, may your family be comforted, and may your murderers soon meet justice, both human and divine.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Catholic China

Re: Catholicism brings meaning to lives of many Chinese

The article seems to be talking about the "Catholic Patriotic Association" and not the underground Catholic Church that is in unity with Rome.
Another Western Christian Blogger in Asia

Fides, Cogitatio, Actio
Prayer and Charity for North Korea

I've pretty much given up commenting on North Korea, so grim is the situation there and lacking the concern here in South Korea. Prayer and charity seem the only way forward.

From Prayer and charity for reconciling the two Koreas:
"The South Korean Catholic Church has changed its mediation role in society, by avoiding political discussion. Nevertheless our commitment is total, in terms of prayer and charity, the means typical to Christians. In terms of relations with North Korea, we have chosen the fraternal way in concretely and spritually helping the North Korean people of God."
"Surrendering to a terrorist attack is the same as inviting terrorism."

From: Act Carefully and Maturely in Saving Kim Sun-il
Korean Hostage Kim Sun-il Update

This is not the time to politicize this unfortunate young man's situation:

Have these people not reflected on the fact that what they are doing is exactly what Mr. Kim Sun-il's captors want and that they are thereby putting Mr. Kim Sun-il's life and those of other Koreans in Iraq in greater danger? Al-Zarqawi and his band of murderous thugs must be smiling when they see the above photos.

The Spanish capitulation made the world a more, not less, dangerous place, regardless of whether the Iraq War was justified or not. [Western Civilization can be thankful that El Cid and other Spaniards showed more resolve against the Moors during la Reconquista from 711 to 1492 than did Prime Minister Zapatero after 3.11.] President Roh is correct in staying the course with the South Korean troop deployment (see S.Korea Vows to Send Iraq Troops Despite Kidnapping). I'm not sure the initial decision to send troops was the right one, and it was seemingly done for cynical reasons, but to cave in now would be disastrous.
Korean Hostage Kim Sun-il Update

South Korea Plans Troops Despite Hostage

Monday, June 21, 2004

Oriental Medicine - Sold a Bill of Goods?

We took our daughter Joy to the Ulsan branch of the Hamsoa Children's Oriental Medicine Clinic the other day. Joy is quite small for her age, and doesn't eat well.

I was a bit hesitant, as I felt that if Oriental Medicine had anything substantial to offer, it would have been discovered and confirmed long ago by science (I need not say Western science because science, although originating in the West, is universal). The clinic itself did little to allay my fears. Beautiful as it was, it seemed to play on Korean parents' fears that their children are not tall enough. But, as worried first time parents, we were willing to look into anything that might explain why our daughter is not gaining weight.

We were told that Joy was in the zero percentile (0%) for her age. The doctor at the clinic did no more than take our daughter's pulse and ask a few questions of us, and then prescribed some medicine, conveniently produced by the same clinic itself. Two weeks worth of this medicine cost of 100,000 won (US$86.50), no small amount.

Today, we took Joy to the Pohang St. Mary's Hospital to look into the same problem. The doctor, a Korean, denounced Oriental Medicine as mere quackery. He prescribed no medicine and told us not to worry.

It seems we've been sold a bill of goods. Nevertheless, we will go ahead and give Joy the medicine, in hope that it will help her gain weight.
Korean Hostage Kim Sun-Il Update

Korean television reported that Korean hostage Kim Sun-Il is a Baptist. While this in no way increases his value in the eyes of God, as God loves all his children, that it can be assumed that he received a valid Christian baptism bodes well for his soul, should the unspeakable occur, and we pray it doesn't. The teaching of the Catholic Church is that God gives all his children, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, the grace necessary for salvation. What is needed on our part is cooperation with that grace.

I know that Kim Sun-il's situation is being exploited for political purposes and I hesitate to bring up his situation for religious reasons, but feel the situation warrants it. God save him!
Korean Hostage Kim Sun-Il Update

Report: Others Held With S. Korean in Iraq
Korean Hostage Kim Sun-il Update

China, Japan Offer Support for Release of Korean Man in Iraq, Free the Hostage: Sacrificing Innocent Civilians Is Inhumane Crime & `Please Save Our Son at All Costs,' Family Cries

Katolik Shinja's Opinion: The headline of that last story reminds us that every victim in the Iraq War, Iraqi, American, or Korean, is someone's son, father, brother, sister, mother, daughter, or friend. The family, not the individual, is the fundamental unit of any society.

I can understand Mr. Kim's family's call for Korean troops to be pulled out. Who wouldn't do the same? However, President Roh seems to be wisely holding the course (see Despite Kidnapping Incident, S. Korea Vows to Deploy Additional Troops). A Spanish-like capitulation would send the wrong message to terrorists, and more kidnappings and atrocities would occur.

The Iraq War right or wrong (and this blogger leans toward the latter view), South Korean troops are being sent to preserve the peace. Mr. Kim's kidnapper's are most likely foreigners who want nothing more than a continuation of violence and chaos in Iraq.

For excellent coverage on these terrible events, see Ruminations in Korea and Budaechigae, and I urge everyone to keep Mr. Kim Sun-il and his family in his or her prayers. You might also want to pray for the conversion of his captors.
Urgent: Pray for Kim Sun-il

South Korean Held in Iraq Pleads for Life
Free North Korea Radio

You'd think that a radio station (자유북한방성) run by North Korean defectors promoting human rights for their homeland would be without controversy here in the Republic of Korea, a bastion of democracy, capitalism, and freedom: but you'd be wrong! Here's the story, Civic Group Demands Free North Korea Radio be Shut Down, which came to my attention from prayer4northkorea · Prayer for North Korea.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Above the Law

Ex-President Kim Dae-jung, on the illegal transfer of funds to North Korea, as quoted in Kim Dae-jung has 'no regrets' about secret cash to north:
"When a rich brother goes to visit a poorer brother, the rich brother should not go empty-handed. We wanted to provide $100m (€83m, £54m) of support. But there was no legal way to do it."

Support for what? North Korean gulags, its nuclear arms program, or the chemical weapons it tests on Christians (who, by the way, are ethnic Koreans)? The legal issue aside, there's a major moral issue here. Catholic convert Kim Dae-jung, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for the meeting that resulted from the illegal transfer of funds, should have examined his conscience more carefully.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Joy, Happy First Birthday!

    God Bless You!
President Roh vs. Samsung, the media, the judiciary, Seoul National University and Kangnam

Korean Nemesis Theory
Excellent Analysis of the Current Situation in the ROK

Confusion in the South Korean ranks
A Good Intention

Re: Church in Korea Steps Up Aid to Working Parents

That "Catholic education" is part of the plan is welcome news. Day care is a necessity for many, but I would hope that more mothers are encouraged to stay home with their children.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Guilt vs. Shame

Re: 70% of South Korean College Students Have Thought of Committing Suicide and Death plunge over rotten dumplings

It has often been observed that the West is a "guilt culture" while the East is a "shame culture." Guilt, whether Jewish, Catholic, or of some other stripe, can be overcome, as it is internal. Shame, external, cannot. Catholic and Orthodox Christians even have recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession), which provides a very real relief from guilt. (Psychoanalyst Karl Jung noted that in Catholic Vienna, most of his patients were Protestants or Jews.) Korea has been called the most appearance-oriented society on earth. Therefore, losing face is a loss of everything. It is my hope that Koreans can be liberated from this cycle of shame.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Omnes Sancti et Sanctae Coreae, orate pro nobis.

A commenter on this blog has called into question the sanctity of these Martyrs of Korea. Their holiness in upholding the Faith even unto death before cruel tortures, as others, even family members, apostasized, is accounted in detail here: Stories of the Korean Martyrs.

Their memorial, September 20th, is remembered not only by the Catholic Church in Korea, but by the Church Universal.
A View from the Middle East

From Abdullah Al Madani: Redeployment of troops is a bone of contention in Korea
"While these groups [South Koreans leftists, unionists and the younger generation], known for being sympathetic to North Korea, condemn US violations of human rights in Iraq, they remain mute about the crimes of Pyongyang's authoritarian regime. This is similar to the stance held by their Arab counterparts who condemn the US occupation of Iraq but turn a blind eye to crimes committed by Saddam's regime."

Sunday, June 13, 2004

A Visit by the Bishop - A Family Reunion - A Look into North Korea

I'm visiting my sister's family in the Seoul region this weekend. The main reason for our visit is her grandmother's 95th birthday. (She keeps telling everyone she's 93.) We're staying in Incheon's "Airport Town Square," which unlike the urban landscapes I posted about a few days ago, is quite a livable place. The reason for this is that it and Korea's other "new cities" were planned, unlike other Korean cities which mushroomed uncontrollably in the spurt of development in the 1960s and 70s. "Airport Town Square" was built only about two years ago, in conjunction with the new Incheon International Airport. The streets here a wide and there are plenty of trees. It reminds me of Singapore.

Across the street from my sister-in-law's apartment is the "New Airport Catholic Church," which this morning played host to a visit by the Bishop of Incheon. I was able to attend part of the welcoming mass. I was very impressed by the parishioners and the mass. I have been having an on-going debate with a commenter on this blog about whether Korean Christianity is really Christianity and not some form of syncretism. Listening to the beauty of the mass, particularly the Litany sung by a boy soprano, and seeing the devotion of the faithful, I came to the conclusion that I cannot judge what is in the hearts of others, only their actions, and what I saw today was nothing but a pure and moving expression of the Catholic Faith.

I had to leave the mass early (I was able to fulfill my Sunday obligation in the evening) to travel to nearby Ilsan for my wife's grandmother's birthday celebration. She had eight children that survived into adulthood, so many of her descendants were present. My daughter was one of many great-grandchildren. We enjoyed a lavish feast and good conversation. I felt nostalgic for the family reunions I attended as a child in Ohio on my mother's side and in Maryland on my father's side. That was before the Snyder and McCaskey patriarchs and matriarchs passed on to their eternal rewards. Now, with such scattered and small nuclear families, I don't know if my daughter will have the chance to meet with so many people at the same time who share the same blood. That's a very sad thought.

After that, my wife's immediate family left for a side trip to the Odusan Reunification Observatory, built on a mountain that offers views across the De-Militarized Zone into the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. An informational film was shown there, which had images from North Korea from as late as April 2004. It has been a while since I've seen the full truth about North Korea here in the South. (Those from outside Korea would be surprised to learn how the media in the South glosses over human rights issues in the North, and rather focuses on soft, fuzzy images of the world's last Stalinist dictatorship, like visiting delegations of pretty cheerleaders.) Of particular sadness were the images from North Korean kindergartens, where the children are indoctrinated in what truly is a cult of personality. The images and stories of the Great and Dear Leaders are simply hagiographic, and teachers voices crack with emotion as they relate them to their pupils. (Those with an under-developed sense of moral clarity will note that the kidnergartens are free-of-charge, something South Korea cannot claim.)

Growing up near Niagara Falls, I'm used to putting a quarter in a viewer and spending a few minutes looking at a natural wonder. At the Odusan Reunification Observatory, the same machines (they cost 500 won) are used to look into another world. Drab concrete buildings and other rudimentary structures could be seen, as well as what looked like idyllic farmlands. I spotted a few people walking on a dirt road, perhaps coming from work or going to it (it was about 5:30 PM). It was a sobering moment staring across "freedom's last frontier" into a world only a few hundred meters yet light-years away. I could do nothing but offer a little prayer for the those poor souls I saw, and their 22 million (or 19 million, after the famines) compatriots stuck up there by the accident of their birth.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

The Real Robert Kim

From South Korea's 'heroic' spy:
"Robert Kim is not a patriot of any country. He is a deeply corrupted American of Korean ethnicity who used his position of trust within the United States government to further his own agenda. He made it known to his South Korean handlers that he would be more than happy to violate both laws and any remaining ethics or morals he may have had in order to build trust and buy him the credibility necessary to broker even larger, more lucrative illegal transactions in the future.

"The nation's reaction to Kim and the insistence that he was somehow noble in his quest to enrich himself through espionage is absurd and deals a further blow to what remains of the 'future of the alliance'."

Friday, June 11, 2004

Urban Korea

It's difficult to put this charitably, but Korean cities tend to be uniformly and hideously ugly. There is hope, however, as some of the newer cities I've been to are an improvement. In [LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]Same-same, teen-teen, "B. Ming" describes Seoul like this:
"Seoul desperately needs to get rid of the trashy fluorescent lighting "same-same" pop teen scene everywhere. It must develop an environment that is dignified: adult-urban and non-alcoholic.
In the entire Gangnam area, there is not a single dignified adult social scene at night.
The cafes are all trashy, girlie teen scenes. Behind them, the ugly, sleazy short-time motels line up, and everywhere is the stupid pop music and too-bright florescent light that makes everyone look like a dead fish. Desirable foreign business people steer well clear of our filthy air and undeveloped city. Sad but true.
This is time for a major media public awareness campaign. I suggest the following:
― Good, attractive lighting.
― Attractive awnings, European style sidewalk cafe culture, no plastic.
― No trashy convenience stores; they are too bright and sell about 95 percent junk food."


Re: Paying parents seen as key to lifting birthrate

It's good that the South Korean government recognizes the dangers to the nation of having a birthrate of 1.17 children per woman, but I don't think money is the answer to a deeper spiritual and moral problem. Europe has great day care and benefits, and very low birthrates.
A Moving Triubte

Former President Kim Dae-jung, quoted in Former South Korean president thanks Reagan for persuading former regime to spare his life:
"President Reagan was a strong and courageous leader. He tore down the long-standing walls of confrontation between the East and the West and led the world to historic change toward democracy and freedom

"In particular, when I was sentenced to death by the military regime in 1980, he worked not only to save my life but also for the democratization of South Korea. I still remember this with gratitude."

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Life Issues

From today's Union of Catholic Asian News, this headline from Korea: Church Proposes Revision Of 'Disappointing' Bioethics Law
A Tribute from Korea

Tribute to Ronald Reagan
The Holy Father on Buddhism

Here's a taste from The Pope, Catholicism, and Buddhism: An excerpt from an interview with Pope John Paul II:
"In Eastern Asia these classic texts of Saint John of the Cross have been, at times, interpreted as a confirmation of Eastern ascetic methods. But this Doctor of the Church does not merely propose detachment from the world. He proposes detachment from the world in order to unite oneself to that which is outside of the world-by this I do not mean nirvana, but a personal God. Union with Him comes about not only through purification, but through love."

I'm Outta Here

Postings might be fewer and farther between for the next few days, as I'm going to Seoul with my family to celebrate the 94th birthday of my daughter's great-grandmother. This amazing woman, born in the same year as Ronald Reagan (동갑), helped us immensely after Joy was born. She spent several days with us, and at 93 she could squat down to give a baby a bath better than I could at 33.

She regularly eats lunch at a Protestant church in her neighborhood, but I'm not sure if she's been baptized yet. So if you can, please say a prayer for Joy's great-grandmother.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Ethiopia and the ROK

Check out the Marmot's info on Ethiopian vets and Korean War orphans.
Freedom of Religion for Prisoners

From Religious Leaders Welcome Decision To Guarantee Prisoners' Religious Rights, a story in today's Union of Asian Catholic News, we read that "[r]eligious leaders in South Korea say a government decision to allow prisoners awaiting trial to participate in religious activities will allow them to expand outreach to a neglected group."
Anti-Americanism at Korean Universities

In Tearing Up the American Flag, Korea Times Columnist Mike Weisbart describes the anti-American performances at a Korean university student festival. Several years ago, before Iraq and the schoolgirl traffic accident, the theme of the festival of the university I used to work at was "미국 - 미친 나라" (America - Insane Nation). Desecration of Old Glory was one of the festival's main events. Fortunately for me, I now work at a university that bans all political expression by students.

Un-American and anti-democratic of me? Perhaps.
Reality Check

From Realignment Tests U.S.-S. Korea Alliance:
    "[D]emands for the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops - once popular among student activists - have diminished in recent years and are opposed by most South Koreans."
Robert Kim

Re: Bitter South Koreans Rally Behind Spy Convicted in U.S.: Defenders call Robert Kim, who gave classified military documents to Seoul, a true patriot.

Would they say the same thing of (naturalized Korean citizen) 하일 (formerly Robert Holley) if he had been convicted of spying for his former country, the United States? Of course not. But that's not the real problem. The real problem is that no hypocrisy would be seen in such a double-standard. You see, the moral relativism so new and troubling to the Western mind has been part of the mindset in this part of the world for millennia.

We monotheists and children of Abraham (Jew, Christian, or Muslim) recognize one God and by extension one Truth and one set of rules for everyone. But we are by no means superior. To know the Truth and reject it is far worse than never having known it. As the West reverts back to its original paganism, shedding 2000 years of Christian tradition, moral relativism returns.

[begin sarcasm] I'm really proud to be an American tonight; flipping through the channels on my Korean cable, I notice that both "Sex and the City" and "Queer as Folk" are offered at the same time on different channels. I'm so happy to see that my homeland is exporting such high quality cultural material. Maybe these backward non-Westerners will open up a bit and experiment a little with their sexual identities. Abu Ghraib was just the beginning. Freedom of choice, isn't that what America is all about? The late President Ronald Reagan would be proud that America is still that "shining city on a hill."[end sarcasm]

Tuesday, June 08, 2004


"Silly Sally" has left some very insightful and inciting (the Gospel is both) comments on a June 2nd post on this blog. Since that post is about to be slotted to the archives, I've decided to put some of her comments here and invite her and others to make more comments. Protestant brothers and sisters are especially invited to join in.

Here's "Silly Sally":
    "Christ said, 'Many are called, but few are chosen.' Korean Mega-churches are a sign that 'another gospel' is being preached: the gospel of Asian theurgism wearing Christian symbols.

    "Theurgism is the attempt to manipulate the divine for purposes of health, wealth, and love.

    "Western Christianity -- to the Korean mind -- carries an aura of material successs and prestige emanating from western prosperity"

I agree wholeheartedly with her basic opinion, but have some reservations when it comes to Korean Catholics, whom I think from their history of matrydom at the hands of fellow Koreans (10,000 martyrs in the 19th Century and the highest number of saints per capita in the world), have earned for themselves a unique and honored place in Christendom.

Omnes Sancti et Sanctae Coreae, orate pro nobis.
Princess Aiko

This won't earn me any friends in Korea, but as my political philosophy is drifting toward (absolute) monarchism, I decided to post this photo, from REUTERS/Eriko Sugita:

    Japan's Crown Princess Masako, seen holding her daughter Aiko during a first homecoming to introduce the young princess to her grandparents at their Tokyo home
Yankee Don't Go Home!

Military expert at the South Korean Institute for Defense Analysis Kim Tae-Woo, quoted in South Korea Resists US Troop Reduction
    "Reduction of U.S. troops should take place according to our schedule to strengthen our own capability to deter North Korea."
Deserter, Defector, or Captive?

The strange saga of Charles Robert Jenkins

Monday, June 07, 2004

Faye Wong

I used to be a big Faye Wong fan. I haven't listened to her music or thought about her in a long time, until this article appeared today: Pop diva Faye Wong among faithful bidding farewell to Buddha's finger in Hong Kong
Kang Ki-gap

Flying Yangban has a great post entitled Kang Ki-gap; coolest member of the Kuk Hoe or stark raving loony?

Kang is a member of the leftist Democratic Labor Party. He is also a Catholic and a farmer.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Ronald Wilson Reagan, Requiescat in Pace

For my complete thoughts on the passing of this great American, read Nostalgia for the Reagan Years from my other blog.

Here are a couple of links to coverage of the Gipper's demise in the English-language Korean press:

Ronald Reagan Remembered
Roh sends message on death of Reagan
Roh Sends Condolences Over Reagan's Death

Here are some nice photos:

Finally, here is a prayer:

REQUIEM aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Amen.

ETERNAL rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

D-Day Reading

Budaechigae, in a posting entitled D-Day!!, has a fascinating story of a Korean who was found by the Americans at Utah Beach, Normandy. It seems he had been first impressed into the Japanese Imperial Army, and after being captured by the Soviets impressed into the Red Army, and after being captured by the Germans impressed to help build the Atlantic Wall!

Friday, June 04, 2004

Novena Prayer to the Holy Spirit

In order to prepare myself for the Sacrament of Confirmation this upcoming Sunday, I've been praying this Confirmation Preparation Prayer: Novena Prayer to the Holy Spirit:
    Come, Spirit of Wisdom, dispose our hearts to know and value the things of heaven above the things of the earth and show us the way to salvation. Come, Spirit of Understanding, enlighten our minds to the mysteries of salvation and grant that we may come to a fuller knowledge of you. Come, Spirit of Counsel, guide us in the way of your commandments. Incline us to do good. Keep us from evil and bring us to everlasting life. Come Spirit of Courage, strengthen us in every trail and help us in our struggle against evil. Never let us be parted from you. Come, Spirit of Knowledge, help us to see beyond the passing joys of this world to the glories you have prepared for us. Come, Spirit of Piety, stir up our hearts to true holiness and love of you. May we always seek you in spirit and in truth. Come Spirit of the Fear of the Lord, teach us ever to set the Lord before us and to avoid whatever is displeasing to you. Bring us all one day to the fullness of your love. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

I just got back from the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) to ready myself for this upcoming Sunday's Sacrament of Confirmation.

I love Confession! Rather than being a burdon, as I thought it must have been before my conversion, Confession is fantastically liberating. Contrary to the assertions of many Protestants, it is explicitly biblical (see John 20: 19-23), whereas "accepting Jesus into your heart" or "as your personal Lord and Saviour" cannot be found anywhere in the Bible.

Dave Armstrong, in his blog Cor ad cor loquitur, recently provided some valuable Thoughts on Confession by Karl Adam, Karl Keating, and G.K. Chesterton.
The Virtue of Modesty

On my other blog, I wrote a post entitled which provided a link to this article: More girls push for modest fashion. The article claims that the "sexy librarian" look is now "in" again. This is good news.

Korean women tend to be much more attractive than their Western counterparts mainly because they dress modestly. The "one-pieces" Korean women wear on dates, to the university, or to church are much more flattering than the skimpy clothes worn in the West. Even the hanbok, which reveals nothing, is a very flattering piece of clothing. The revealing clothes worn by Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera are not sexy but revolting. I would like to see women in the West emulate the fashion-sense of Korean women.

I also noticed the beauty of modesty while living in conservative Chile and Malaysia; downtown Santiago would fill with beautiful smartly-dressed secretaries at lunchtime and some of the most beautiful women in Kuala Lumpur were the Muslim Malays wearing the baju kurung and tudong (not all Muslim women wear the chador).

C.S. Lewis was correct to point out that modesty is to a certain extent relative; a top-less Polynesian woman can possess more modesty than a fully-clothed women of another culture. This just goes to prove that modesty is a universal virtue, not dependant on clothing or culture.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Who Really Wants Reunification?

This article, Many Students Believe US Big Barrier to Unification, records some seemingly contradictory views on reunification among Korean students:
    "According to the opinion poll conducted by the Advisory Council on Democratic and Peaceful Unification, 49.1 percent of respondents said among four surrounding powers _ the U.S., China, Russia and Japan _ the U.S. is the biggest barrier to national reunification.... However, more than seven out of 10 supported the continued presence of U.S. Forces Korea here."

Robert Koehler of The Marmot's Hole gives an excellent anaylisis of the politics of reunification in the recentOhmyNews write-up about him, Out of Africa and Into Andong:
    "Another thing progressives need to do is cut the unification talk. The North Korea policies of the last two South Korean administrations have been aimed at preventing or putting off unification, not bringing it about. I'm not saying this is wrong, by the way; I live in Seoul, so the prospects of sudden unification - especially if it's accompanied by war - are not what we'd call assuring. But the rhetoric of unification makes rational political dialogue difficult, if not impossible. And it goes without saying that referring to the conservatives as "anti-unification" is particularly unhelpful, especially when one considers that the policies they support are designed to hasten unification, not postpone it. Whether or not those policies would be successful - or result in a favorable outcome even if they were - is beside the point."

Could This Be Kim Jong-il Aping Deng Xiao-ping?

Profit Is Good, N.Korea's Kim Tells Factory Workers
Tough Questions

From South Korea Courts Foe, Spurns Friend:
    "Where’s the outrage in South Korea of one million, or even two million, fellow Koreans being starved to death by the North’s unbending brutal system? Where’s the outrage at the North’s extensive gulag, a series of Stalinist prison camps holding some 100,000 or more Koreans in subhuman subjugation? Or at the North having kidnapped foreigners visiting the peninsula decades ago, and still refusing to release some of them, and their offspring?"

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Eighth Century Christianity in Korea?

Jason of Musings of an orthodox Korean Catholic... provides fascinating Evidence for Christianity during Unified Silla period, descibes his visit to a museum devoted to the suject, provides plenty of pictures, and offers a link to this article: A Museum Tells the Story of Christianity in Korea.
Korean Baptist Pastor on the Rise in the US

3rd nominee for SBC 2nd VP: Korean pastor David Gill
Christians and the Popularization of Hangeul (한글)

From Remembering the Underwoods:
    "Rev. Underwood played a leading role in the promotion and popularization of the use of the native Korean alphabet, or Hangeul, that has been said to be the most significant contribution to modern Korean culture by the Korean Christian churches."

Tuesday, June 01, 2004