Woori Theology Institute (WTI) Conducted a Monthly Online Seminar on June 2022

Woori Theology Institute (WTI) conducted a monthly online seminar on “Peace on the Korean Peninsula beyond Discrimination and Exclusion” in Seoul on June 28, 2022. The speaker working for the Committee for Reconciliation of Korean People in Masan Diocese in the local Church, focused on how to achieve reconciliation and peace between the two Korean groups, how to heal the deep wounds caused by war and division, and furthermore, how to cultivate a spirituality of peace that goes beyond discrimination and exclusion in Korean society. It is no exaggeration to say that the deepest wounds in current Korean society system from the forced division of the countries and confrontation between them.

Due to war and division, the South and the North Koreans have expressed feelings of hate and exclusion that are close to a curse between the peoples. In fact, deep-rooted feuds between peoples of the same ethnic group underlie all the feelings of ‘hate and exclusion’ that surround Koreans. Also, within South Korean society, many people were sacrificed and had to walk the path of hardship due to the so-called ‘red gang’. The authoritative regimes for some 70 years after the war have used and maximized the ‘redneck or spy device’ against ordinary people especially in South Korea which killed all the political opponents until today. Now with the increasing number of North Korean defectors, the question of how to well embrace them is emerging.

Two days later, a Symposium was held in Seoul on June 30, 2022 by the Woori Theology Institute (WTI) and the Korea Catholic Culture Research Institute. Themed “The Korean Catholic Church in the Post-Covid19 Era”, the joint conference was firstly conducted offline since the deadly infected disease has spread all over the world in 2020. There were three presentations with the themes of “Reflection on Korean Religions and the Korean Catholic Church during the Covid19 Pandemic”; “Post-Covid19 Era, the Path of the Catholic Church in Korea”; “Theological Reflection on the Covid19 Pandemic” each. The three talks with different approach from religious studies, pastoral angle and theological reflection respectively had 6 commentators including two from Italy and the US. Dr. Paul Hwang who is senior researcher of WTI and the director of ALL Forum joined as moderator and commentator in the seminar and the symposium respectively.

Woori Theology Institute (WTI) held a Webinar in Solidarity with Oversee Muslim students in Korea

On February 22, WTI held an online seminar in which it invited Abu Masoon Abdul Yekeen, a Muslim student from Nigeria, in Kyungbuk National University to listen to what he and his colleague students have been experiencing around reconstruction of a small mosque for them. He has explained what happened.

Reconstruction work has been suspended for a year due to the strong objection and protest of some residents near the mosque whose ownership belongs to Muslim students. The university has Muslim students from various countries such as Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan. Abdul Yeekin is one of the 150 graduate students taking mater’s or doctoral programs in it. In 2012, they rented a space near the university and used it as a prayer room.

In 2014, because of the rental fee was sharply raised they decided to buy a house around the mosque with the money they had saved every month to prepare a better place for their religious activities. But the old house was not good to be used as a Islamic center because it used to leak during rains and had poor heating infrastructure as it was too old and small. In 2020, it was decided to purchase a building near the center and then proceed to reconstruct the building. It was smooth until the stage of demolishing and reconstructing the identical building.

However, on February, 2021, residents filed a petition in the district office against the reconstruction of the mosque. On the following day, the district office released an order of suspension of the reconstruction work. Residents said that many people would come to the mosque making lots of noise and bad smell coming from very strange culture for Koreans. They are also worried that when the Islamic temple is built, it will become a Muslim village which would threaten to ruin their life there. Concerned, the Muslim students designed the building with the sound and smell proof device and said that they will offer the joiners to stay inside the temple only during Ramadan. But negotiations did not take place.

Pastor Park Sung-min, a commentator in the webinar, who has been in solidarity with the Muslim students, said that it is “discrimination” that the district office ordered the suspension of construction just one day after residents filed a petition against the reconstruction of the mosque. He said that it would have been different if it were a church, a Buddhist temple, or a cathedral, not a Muslim mosque. Their opposition and conflict has been deepened due to the administrative order of the office. He said that “If religion and race are different, can’t they be neighbors?” is a key question. If we can’t accept the Muslim students as our neighbors, it’s like breaking our community. Rather, creating a community with diversity is what we should aim for, he stressed.

How Korean Catholic Church Support and Promote Solidarity with Myanmar People’s Struggles

How Korean Catholic Church Support and Promote Solidarity with Myanmar People’s Struggles

Organised by Woori Theology Institute and Centre for Asian Peace and Solidarity (CAPS)

On the 17th of March 2021, Woori Theology Institute and Canter for Asian Peace and Solidarity organised an urgent webinar with the theme ‘The Military Coup and People’s Uprising in Myanmar, and How Korean Catholic Church Support and Promote Solidarity’. This webinar was organised to support the Myanmar People and Koreans living there.

This Webinar took place on the Zoom platform and was also streamed live on YouTube. Wayan Tin Maung Win Secretary General of Share Mercy and Dr. Maung John the Director of Lay Mission Institute (LAMIN) were the key speakers in the webinar. Wayan gave the audience insight on the Background of the military coup, the current situation and the demands of the people of Myanmar and Dr. Maung John on the Responses from Different Religious Institutions such as Buddhists, Muslims, Christians and Hindus; He elaborated especially on the Catholic, Diocesean, Religious Sisters, Catholic Media and Lay responses to the military coup in Myanmar. Followed by the presentation of the speakers the webinar was opened to the discussion panel to give their critical insights about the situation taking place in Myanmar, drawing close references to similar experiences faced by the Korean people.

Many participants from civil society organisations, religious institutions and church related nongovernment organisation gathered to share their questions and opinions making this webinar an effective one.

The webinar concluded with the intension to raise a monetary fund for the people of Myanmar so that basic necessities such as food and medical aid supplies can be contributed to them.