Prayer for peace in a divided country
South Korea is unlike any other country. Its brother in the north is close geographically, but politically it could not be further away. On his upcoming trip to South Korea next month, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider plans to say a prayer for peace.
A bitter conflict in the early 1950s divided the country into north and south. Repeated reconciliation attempts have been made, but so far these have not led to a real reunification. A strip of land called the Demilitarized Zone separates the two countries. For about 250 kilometres it roughly follows the 38th parallel—no man’s land. It was established at the end of the Korean War in 1953 to serve as a buffer zone between the two Koreas. This border barrier with its seemingly harmless sounding name is heavily fortified and sees armed conflicts regularly.
At the end of May, Chief Apostle Schneider will visit Daejeon. With a population of 1.5 million it is South Korea’s fifth largest city. Seoul, the country’s capital, is a 50-minute trip away by high-speed train. It is the fourth time that a Chief Apostle will visit the country. For the acting Chief Apostle it will be the first time.
District Apostle Urs Hebeisen from the Philippines who is responsible for the New Apostolic Church in South Korea is excited: “The Chief Apostle travels around the world to minister to thousands of believers without ever forgetting the small groups of members who in live complex societies and cultures.”
Prayer for peace at the peace bell
The Chief Apostle will say a prayer for peace at the Peace Bell. For this he and his party will travel to the Imjingak Memorial Park, located about 50 kilometres north-west of Seoul just outside of the city of Paju. The park is a symbol of hope for reunification and home to the famous Peace Bell. It weighs several tonnes and is rung especially at New Year’s celebrations as a sign of hope for a reunification of the Korean people.
In this park, which takes its name from the river Imjing, there are a number of monuments that are a stark and painful reminder of the Korean War and the division of the country. Nearby is another landmark, Freedom Bridge, over which thousands of North Koreans fled south before the border was closed.
An ambitious programme
This visit to South Korea will mark the end of a one-week trip to South-East Asia. The trip will begin in Japan, where the Chief Apostle is scheduled to arrive on Friday, 20 May. The service on the following Sunday will be celebrated in a hotel. On Thursday he is scheduled to arrive in South Korea. The excursion to the Memorial Park is planned for Friday morning. And on Sunday the Chief Apostle will celebrate the divine service in Daejeon.