I'm an adult figure skater and a major fan of the sport. I loved watching North Korean pair Ryom and Kim skate to a Beatles medley in the recent Olympic games. I cheered for South Korean Choi Da-bin who finished 8th in the ladies competition with a beautiful skate dedicated to her mother who passed away a few months ago. The South Korean short track skaters took home six medals (three gold) and their long track speed skaters added seven more to the country’s medal count. (I shared the ice with dedicated future short track competitors when I skated in Korea last spring.) South Korea was praised for the way the games ran and the beauty of the region. The closing ceremonies highlighted the South Korean love for technology and K-pop.
But now the games are over.
Life returns to normal.
Normal. In a peninsula with one language and one historic culture, divided for 60 years and forever changed. For all that time there has been only an uneasy truce, not a peace treaty.
Now, ‘normal’ in Seoul is efficient mass transit, upscale shopping, restaurants serving cuisine from a dozen regions of the world, more electronics than someone my age can comprehend, and K-pop, 21st-century music with a distinctive Korean feel. When my daughter lived there, her American military-spouse friends only found out about the tensions headlining our news when their US relatives e-mailed, asking if they were all right. North Korean rhetoric is so common that no one pays any attention.
'Normal' in North Korea...well, no one really knows.
Is that to be what we return to now that the Olympics are over? Or without the games to focus our attention on sport and goodwill, will tensions escalate again with nothing to rein them in? During the games we rejoiced to see the two Koreas walking side by side, but the annual US-South Korean military drills began last week. Last year during the drills the North launched missiles. They have previously refered to US sanctions as “an act of war.” A summit between the two countries is planned for the end of this month. President Trump has expressed willingness to meet North Korean President Kim, something that has never been done by a US president.
Before the Olympics I asked you to pray for Korea. “Ask God to do something powerful—to do what he did in Europe thirty years ago—bring down a wall. Pray for political leaders—theirs and ours—for wisdom, for humility, for a perspective that goes beyond scoring short-term political points to what is best for a people who have to live (or die) with the outcome. Pray for God's people in Korea, North and South, for courage, for faith and for selfless love.”
Please don’t stop praying just because Korea is no longer on your TV every night. This point in history could be critical.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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