Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK)
Korea is currently walking through rapid transformation. Recent changes in South Korean leadership have opened the door to a possibility for resolving the conflict and ending the state of war on the peninsula. Throughout the undulating history of occupations by foreign powers, Koreans have maintained faithful resilience by focusing on what they do well, such as their high-culture of hospitality. Koreans deeply value going to great lengths to care for guests. A YAV year in Korea provides a humbling lesson in what it means to love your neighbor. Korea is also a land of plural religions where 24% identify as Buddhist, 31% identify as Christian (24%-Protestant 7%-Catholic), and 43% claim no affiliation. This rich context will allow YAVs to witness numerous ways in which the Korean Church chooses to engage a pluralist society.
Rapid economic development in Korea has also created both striking wealth and immense poverty. Site placements help YAVs to consider the cost to human rights in relationship to recent global-economic practices and helps volunteers develop relationships with the minjung of Korea (downtrodden, marginalized, suffering, etc.). Minjung theologians remind us that God calls us to recognize how those less privileged than ourselves can be the face of Christ for us, a source of theology, and our salvation, rather than merely recipients of the charity. This theology was developed in the struggle against military dictatorship in South Korea during the heart of the democratization movement over several decades.
YAVs will explore the ripple effects of Japanese Occupation, Soviet and US influence, the Korean War, and the continued division and conflict between many competing systems. YAVs will meet Koreans following God’s call for reconciliation. Therefore, a major focus of the Korea YAV site will be “reverse-mission”, where instead of wealthy- mainly white – people going out to change the “poor and unintelligent”, US volunteers will learn from and be transformed by Koreans, especially learning how US Americans can examine ways conflict is perpetuated around the world, but especially in Korea.
See beautiful snapshots of Korea from Dia Griffiths 2016-17’s YAV year!
Language classes will be provided during the 3-4 week site orientation in order to facilitate relationship building with partners. No prior knowledge of Korean language is necessary, but Korea YAVs must be willing to engage in the language learning process before and during their YAV year. Language exchange programs and/or community language programs will be available throughout the year.
Your living arrangement will vary depending on the placement site. Most of the placement sites will provide housing options within the community such as living in a community house with Koreans, living with other non-YAV international volunteers, living at a university dormitory, or a homestay with Korean families. Korea YAVs will explore intentional Christian community by examining all levels of relationships during their year (Korean partners, other YAVs, church communities, people with whom they live, etc.). There will be ongoing virtual group meetings for reflection on Korea faith life, history, culture, etc. There will also be three week-long in-person retreats during the year for deeper reflection and sharing.
Young Adult Volunteers (YAV) is a service and leadership development program through the World Mission division of the PC(USA). Young adults serve for one year in the U.S. or internationally, in areas such as fair trade or environmental issues, and have the opportunity to experience Christianity in a new culture. YAVs are between ages 19 and 30. Check out the YAV program blog here.
YAVs will be placed throughout four cities in Korea:
1. Hannam University – Daejeon
Hannam University is located in Daejeon city. This is a school that was started by Southern Presbyterian missionaries of the Southern Presbyterian Church of the USA. There are several possibilities for work placements. YAVs will work with a migrant women’s shelter with women from different countries around Asia who are the survivors of domestic violence or sexual violence. YAVs will participate in the community life with the women and facilitate programs for children. YAVs will work with children struggling on the edge of poverty at neighborhood children’s centers. YAVs will facilitate group games, activities with art, English language, and more. YAVs will volunteer once a week at a soup kitchen that connects to the homeless and hungry populations around Daejeon train station. YAVs will participate in the church activities such as worship, Sunday school, and Bible studies, etc through Hannam University Church. YAVs will live in intentional community housing with other Christian students from Hannam University.
2. “Space Elizabeth” and “Center for Multicultural Peace Pedagogy” – Kwangju
Both centers develop creative programs to serve immigrant populations, seminary students, and local Christian groups. YAVs will work with university professors in their collaborative work to develop programs based on the principles of justice, peace, life, and equality through networking with local churches and social service agencies. The center will provide education and services for the immigrant population. YAVs will engage in various tasks such as: preparing for a Youth Camp for Peace and Human Rights, supporting Sunday school activities and multicultural ministry, administrative tasks, and joining Bible study groups. YAVs will participate in the church activities such as worship, Sunday school, and Bible studies, etc. YAVs will be able to participate in the Korean language classes through the local programs. YAVs will live in the community housing setting or possibly a homestay.
3. The Border Peace School – Cheolwon
The Border Peace School (BPS) is located near the north/south border of Korea. BPS started in March, 2013, with three aims: educate peacemakers for peace and unification between North and South Korea; implement peace education for civilians and youth globally; and build peace villages on the border area. YAVs will live with other volunteers (non-YAVs) in a community life with three principles: study, prayer and work. There will be an opportunity to participate in daily silent morning worship, Sunday worship services, lectures on peace, organic farming, community service, teaching “peace English,” and participating in peace pilgrimages along the border.
4. Jwapo Presbyterian Church (Farming community) – Jinan
Jwapo Presbyterian Church belongs to the PROK denomination, our program partner in Korea. Jwapo Church is located in the rural area called Jinan in the Choonchung province. This church engages in rural farming ministry based on the principles of life and peace. More than 80% of the church members are composed of people who have recently moved from urban to rural areas. The church, working closely with local communities, is involved in the local farming, village development, and cooperative movements. To help with the initial settlement of the new comers, the church operated a guest house for younger farmers. The church also offers a variety of programs for agriculture based on the perspectives of life and peace. YAVs will help with farming during the weekdays and participate in the work of churches and local communities on youth cooperative farms. In the summer, there will be an opportunity to work as a staff for the youth peace camps for the community. YAVs will receive Korean language classes provided by your local community. YAVs will live in a church-run guesthouse with other young farmers.
5. Neutbom (“Late Spring”) MuniKhwan School – Gangjin
The school is located in the southernmost part of South Korea called Ganglion. The school is an educational community located at the foot of Mundeok Village, Doam-myeon, Gangjin District. The school is named after Rev. Moon Ik-hwan (1917-1994), a PROK pastor who worked actively with the democratization and reunification movement. This school is providing an alternative curriculum for 7th-grade through the 12th-grade. There are three educational philosophies at this school: life and spirituality, autonomy and community, unification and peace. The “Late Spring” School has been carrying out educational activities focusing on liberal arts, community education, history education, and independent education according to the above three school philosophies. YAVs will participate in the program with the students according to the schedule of the school. Housing will be arranged at the guestroom of the school.
6. Joomin Presbyterian Church – Sungnam
Joomin Presbyterian church belongs to the PROK denomination. The church is located in the Sungnam City near Seoul in an urban setting. This church was built to serve the poor working class people who used to live in this neighborhood. The church was socially active asking for the human rights of the factory workers and supported the democratization movement. Recently many immigrants and multicultural families have moved to this community. So, the church started to work with the immigrant population as they started the center for immigrants and multicultural families. YAVs will work at this center during the week days by participating in the programs with foreign workers, multicultural families and multicultural children, and serving as a supporting staff to provide meals for the elderly in the community. YAVs will also engage in the church worship services. YAVs will be able to take language courses offered at the immigrant center. The Church will provide a guest room for YAVs.
Age: 21 Education: Undergraduate college degree obtained before 8/1 (South Korean visa requirement)
Must be willing to learn another language.
Must be flexible.
Must be an open eater.
A call for Creation Care
The Presbyterian Church (USA) is partnering with Blessed Tomorrow, a program by people of faith for people of faith, to shape new guides, tools, and messaging that will help us to reduce energy use, speak with friends, family and policy makers about climate change and environmental justice to help sustain a livable world for future generations.