Search

 

Cablegate: Plans to Commemorate the "Pyongyang Revival" In

VZCZCXYZ0002
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHUL #0489/01 0510415
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 200415Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY SEOUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2948
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 2064
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 2166
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 7821
RHMFISS/COMUSKOREA J5 SEOUL KOR
RHMFISS/COMUSKOREA J2 SEOUL KOR
RHMFISS/COMUSKOREA SCJS SEOUL KOR
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC//OSD/ISA/EAP//

UNCLAS SEOUL 000489

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KN KS PHUM SCUL PREL
SUBJECT: PLANS TO COMMEMORATE THE "PYONGYANG REVIVAL" IN
OCTOBER

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a large
number of Protestant Americans came to Korea and found a
reception. By 1907, Jang Dae Hyun Church in Pyongyang became
the center of what became known as the "Pyongyang Revival,"
earned it the moniker "Jerusalem of the East." To
commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Revival, a group of
South Korean Presbyterian pastors is planning a large-scale
event in October in Pyongyang to rekindle the previous
century's religious awakening, but it is not clear that the
DPRK will allow it. END SUMMARY.

REKINDLING THE PYONGYANG RELIGIOUS SPIRIT
-----------------------------------------

2. (SBU) A preparatory committee of South Korean Presbyterian
pastors, most of whom belong to the International Love
Foundation (ILF), is spearheading organizational efforts to
send 3,000 South Koreans to a revival ceremony in Pyongyang.
Rev. Eom Shin-hyeong, President of the Council of
Presbyterian Churches and chair of the preparatory committee,
told us that he was coordinating the event with North Korea's
Chosun Christian Federation (CCF). Rev. Shin and others went
to Kaesong on December 22 to meet with the CCF, and also to
Pyongyang on January 13-16. The pastors reported that,
despite earlier refusals, the DPRK relented at the last
minute and allowed the group to visit the site of the old
Jang Dae Hyun Church. They also participated in a service at
the DPRK-recognized Chilguk Church.

3. (SBU) The pastors were unable to speak to any individual
worshippers and left unsure if the North Koreans were truly
there for religion or if they had been told to attend by the
DPRK, although they commented that numerous "Amens" were
heard from the congregation during Shin's sermon at
Chilguk. The pastors and CCF agreed that 300 to 500 South
Koreans would be invited to a preliminary joint service in
March, and 3,000 South Koreans would be invited to join
15,000 North Koreans for a joint service at Chung Ju-yong
stadium in Pyongyang in October. The pastors asked CCF to
invite ethnic Koreans from other nations, including
Korean-Americans, but CCF did not respond. ILF said that it
planned to publicize the trip in late February, expressing
interest in having American pastors participate in the
revival.

4. (SBU) Many South Korean Christian organizations are
spurning this event. For example, neither the Christian
Council of Korea (CCK) nor the National Council of Christian
Churches in Korea (NCCK), two of the biggest religious
organizations in the ROK, will officially participate, though
they acknowledged that some of their member churches would.
The CCK will not endorse the event, consistent with its
refusal to recognize the DPRK. Our CCK contact said the
revival was a chance for the DPRK to fill a stadium in a
forced public display of religious "freedom," and a chance
for the ROKG to claim that reunification efforts were on
track, when in reality both claims were propagand. The NCCK,
though it has a more progressive leadership, has decided not
to participate because it
believes that events would be small-scale, void of religious
freedom, and not in the spirit of 1907.

PRICE TAG: ONE CARDIAC CENTER
-----------------------------

5. (SBU) Lee Sung-won, Director of the Inter-Korean Social
and Cultural Exchanges and Cooperation Team at the ROK
Ministry of Unification, said that funding problems may
undercut plans for an event in Pyongyang. According to Lee,
the organizing committee, during their January visit to the
DPRK, promised to build a cardiac hospital, an attractive
offer to aging DPRK elites. On their return to
Seoul, the pastors asked the Ministry of Unification to fund
the hospital. The Ministry refused on the basis that it had
not been consulted in advance and that it could not spend so
much via one religious group. Lee said that he believes the
organizers are currently trying to convince
American Mega-Pastor Rick Warren to be the Revival's Keynote
Speaker and lead fundraiser.

COMMENT

-------

6. (SBU) Like so many initiatives involving North Korea, the
Pyongyang Revival is also stalled because of the need for
payoffs to the DPRK leadership. In this case it is a cardiac
center. Even if such an event were to take place, it would
likely be a staged event for foreign donors rather than a
religious event for domestic worshipers. We think it will be
some time before Pyongyang is again known as the Jerusalem of
the East.
VERSHBOW

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

COP24: Rapid Action Urged At Climate Change Conference

Following a year of devastating climate disasters around the globe, from California to Kerala, and Tonga to Japan, the annual UN Climate Change Conference opens with the goal of finalising the implementation guidelines for the Paris Climate Change Agreement. More>>

ALSO:

New Report: Refugees In PNG Being Pushed To The Brink

Refugee Council of Australia and Amnesty International paint a stark picture of a traumatised refugee population hit hard by Australia's recent healthcare and counselling service cuts, as well as continued threats to their safety. More>>

ALSO:

Jamal Khashoggi: UK, France, Germany Join Calls For Credible Investigation

Germany, the United Kingdom and France share the grave concern expressed by others including HRVP Mogherini and UNSG Guterres, and are treating this incident with the utmost seriousness. More>>

ALSO:

MSF Not Wanted: Nauru Government Shows Continued Callousness

The Nauruan Government’s decision to ask Doctors Without Borders to immediately leave shows continued callousness towards asylum seekers desperately seeking a safe place to call home, Green MP Golriz Ghahraman said today. More>>

ALSO: