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Elder Pak Kwanjoon (1945) - A Bold Activist

Elder Pak Kwanjoon (1945) - A Bold Activist


I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. Acts 10:34b-35 (NRSV)

Born in Korea in 1875, Pak Kwanjoon studied Buddhism until he became a Christian in 1905. In 1923 he founded a church and became burdened with the desire to speak out against the Japanese religion of Shintoism.

The police became aware of this, and detectives started to follow him. Eventually he chose to go to Japan and protest to the Imperial Diet (national legislature) of Japan, along with his son and Miss Ahn Eesok.

In Japan they visited prominent church leaders and spoke about how Christians suffered in Korea, which was then under Japanese control. They entered the Diet on 21 March 1939 with appeal leaflets hidden in their clothing.

Four hundred members were assembled for the Diet and were discussing the religious law when the three Christians, who were sitting in the gallery, threw their leaflets down. The leaflets entreated the Japanese government to stop enforcing shrine worship, to make Christianity the religion of Japan and to stop persecuting Christians.

The three Christians were jailed for three months and sent back to Korea. Constantly under police surveillance, Elder Pak was urged by his son to flee to Manchuria, but he replied, “I’m working for the Korean church and must stay.”

In 1941 he was put in prison for opposing the law for the control of religions. He died in the Pyenyang penitentiary on 13 March 1945, aged 70.

We must, furthermore, protest the notion of manifest destiny that permits our nation to do anything it chooses. For if we insist on walking down this road, then at some point – as God is God, the God in whose eyes there is real good and real evil – we who have trampled so completely on all of God’s amazing gifts to this country are going to wake up and find that He cares very much what we do.

We must not suppose that we are playing only intellectual and political games. If God exists, and if He judges good and evil, then we must realize that those who trample on His great gifts will one day know His judgment. The scriptures bear solemn witness to this. Our nation is not immune.

Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984), Who is for Peace?


Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.


Elder Pak Kwanjoon (1945) - A Bold Activist


Originally appeared on Isaac Publishing


For Other Articles by Dr Patrick Sookhdeo
Larry and Jean Elliot (2004) - “Absent from the body, present with the Lord”