I live in a country that is torn into two. We are one, yet divided. We are split, yet attached. We are Korea, yet we are ‘South’ and we are ‘North’.
I am actually uncertain whether I can call our “brothers”, “us”. Koreans are taught of its history from a very early age. From the moment we can locate the motherland on a map, we learn that our other half is, in fact, “not of us”.
We are taught that we are family, yet that we are enemies. We are taught that our government and many charities send tonnes of donations over, yet that all men are sent to the army for the 20-months compulsory training, preparing for the unknown attack we may get from our kinsmen.
We are taught to be hopeful for the ultimate day of our unification, yet to be mindful of the day the rivals may continue the war we had temporarily ceased.
As if we thought the paradoxes weren’t enough, the South is busy. From Samsung and BTS to amazing skin products and world-acclaimed cosmetic surgeries, we are always bustling, buzzing like busy bumble bees to live another day of peace.
Peace, we dream of, yet we work over midnight. Peace, we hope for, yet studying children neglect their breaks and their youth. Peace, we wish for, yet we constantly compete against each other to win: looking the best, dressing the best, working, earning, eating, drinking… living the best.
We are a country with low crime rates, where you would have your lost wallet and your phone, your bag or your purse nicely returned most of the time. We are a country that countless tourists comment as having the friendliest, nicest, fun-loving, people-loving citizens.
We are a country that had sprung up in less than 100 years – from being one of the poorest, most ruined land to being one of the most successful. We are famous for our amazing food, fashion, scholars, institutes, talents and ideas and it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t heard of something great about South Korea.
Yet, we are also a country with the highest abortion and suicide rates and have one of the lowest score in the World Happiness Index.
The forgotten truth
When I returned to this amazingly mysterious country two years ago, I was anxious. I was anxious because I wondered how a girl, fully Korean on the outside but only half (at the most) in the inside, would cope here. I felt like I was not ready for the possible cultural clashes, misunderstandings, or the language barriers.
What surprises me now is that in the countless list of anxieties I had in my head, the possibility of a civil war wasn’t included.
But anyone that had been to South Korea would understand, as its infinite number of pleasurable indulges and entertaining experiences constantly jump at your face, distracting you from the frightening reality of the war-torn country.
Cafes of all sorts and restaurants of all flavours line up at your feet, while the shiniest, the most fashionable products glamour for your attention and parties, bars and joyfully exotic adventures spread themselves out for your choice.
Who would think we are a nation that can be bombed any day, when it is literally full of colourful lights and jostling civilians even in the darkest hours of the day?
The True War
However, I believe it isn’t only the Koreans that live in such a baffling reality. All Christians are called as a “soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy chapter 2, verse 3).
We know that our enemy, the devil, “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter chapter 5, verse 8). As a world ruled by the enemy, it is fittingly full of evil.
Just as it fooled Eve to disobey God’s command by offering the alluring Fruit of Death, he continues in his malicious schemes by presenting all kinds of beguiling, noxious delights to us. Our phones, apps, social media, links, clips, pictures, relationships, cuisines, and holidays can so swiftly turn from gifts of our merciful God to weapons of the crafty devil.
Let us remember: we are called to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…[and] discern what is the will of God” (Romans chapter 12, verse 2).
“In all circumstances, [we are to] take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit” (Ephesians chapter 6, verse 16-19).
In this Good Fight we are destined to partake in, we are not to be distracted. If a commissioned soldier is drunk in sleep, or in wine, or in whatever bewildering pleasure, he can no longer be called a true soldier.
Today, are your eyes wide open to the aggressive Spiritual Warfare you are in, or are they wide-shut?
Sunny is as a weak as a broken reed, a flickering candle. But Abba God shows His abundant mercy again and again by incredibly loving this hopeless being. Soli deo Gloria.