Korean Christian Peace Festival in Afghanistan Blocked

Korean news site Chosun reports on a plan by Korean Christians to descend on Afghanistan:

A so-called Peace Festival scheduled in Afghanistan in August, which 2,000 Korean Christians are expected to attend, has pitted the government against Evangelical groups after the administration warned the event is a potential target for terror attacks. The Institute of Asian Culture and Development (IACD), which sponsors the event, on Thursday started demonstrations outside government buildings.

The IACD says the event will provide an opportunity to foster grassroots relations between the people of Korea and Afghanistan, citing the Afghan government’s official message of welcome. However, Seoul is reportedly pressuring Kabul and trying to derail an event it says is missionary in nature. Kabul has recently changed tack and is now denying visas to would-be participants.

From its website, the IACD gives the appearance of being a secular development organisation (with an impressive board), but for the “Rejoice! Afghanistan” link on the bottom of the page (details about the event in Korean only). The website explains that the IACD was founded in 1983

…to promote education, culture development and exchanges among developing countries in Asia.

It is oriented to hand over the past invaluable experience of Korean development through scientific activities. IACD also desires to help the northern countries and the Third World, our neighbors, by sending different types of specialists.

Countries where the IACD is active include Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Mongolia, and Turkey.

The Korea Times noted the upcoming event back in March, and gave a bit of context:

The IACD has held an annual “Jesus March” in Jerusalem over the past two years, despite strong opposition from the Seoul government.

The group informed the ministry of its plan to hold this year’s march in Kandahar, Afghanistan on July 30-Aug. 5 with some 2,000 South Korean Protestants from home and abroad intending to take part, they said.

The Jerusalem Post described one of these previous marches:

…The pilgrims, many of whom are college students, traveled from many parts of the world to participate in a rally calling for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Han-Woo Choi, the director of the Institute of Asia Cultural Development (IACD), a cultural and religious organization that participated in the march, said he believes peace that originates in Israel will spread to the rest of the world and resolve conflicts such as that between North and South Korea…In addition to visiting holy sites in Jerusalem, the pilgrims also brought medicine to Palestinians and publicly prayed for peace with them.

…Several marchers carried banners that read “We Pray for Reconciliation of Israel and Palestine,” “March for Jesus, March for Peace,” and “Peace Between Two Koreas.”

The Canadian Jewish News described the march as “solidarity with the people of Israel”, but while the group has been received enthusiastically by the Israeli Tourism Ministry (with minister Gideon Ezra reportedly joining the march), banners such as “We Love Palestine” (see here) suggest that this was no Christian Zionist rally. The IACD  has also held Korean-Palestinian festivals at the Palestinian universities of Birzeit in Ramallah and An-Najah in Nablus.

However, there does appear to a missionary element to the IACD. The online resume of a Korean-Canadian individual includes the following detail about its work in Afghanistan:

I was a part of the first vision team from Korean churches in Toronto. Our goal was to set up ESL schools, medical ministry, and other educational institutions in Afghanistan supported by the church in Toronto and IACD (Institute of Asian Culture Development).

During our visit to Kabul and Megeri-sherif, we made contracts with Kabul and other universities to support their educational systems by sending professors, doctors and other financial support.

In 2003, many short-term and long-term missionaries who were teachers, professors, doctors and other professionals were sent by Korean churches in Toronto and Korea.

I noted problems arising from alleged links between missionaries and development work in Uzbekistan just a few days ago.

One Response

  1. Stop Koreans, Stop making a fool out of yourself. I had never seen a Korean in life time and I have followers.. Idiots.. Be Budhist again…

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