On Friday, November 19, a student from Minzu University in Beijing met us at the hotel and we set out for the Ming Tombs and the Great Wall with a rented car and driver. The Ming Tombs are 50 kilometers northwest of the city. We visited the tombs of the emperor Zhudi (1360-1424) and Empress Xushi. Zhudi was the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty. Ling'en Hall (the Hall of Eminent Favour), one of the oldest surviving structures at the site of the Ming tombs, is made of Nanmu Wood (a rare hard wood from the south of China) and is quite an amazing structure.
We also visited the tomb of the thirteenth emperor, Zhu Yi Jun (known as Emperor Wanli, 1563-1620) and his two empresses. His is the only tomb that is excavated and open to the public.
We left the Ming Tombs and headed for the Great Wall at Badaling, about 70 kilometers north of Beijing. This section of the wall was stated in 770 BC -476 BC, and then largely built, under the direction of Emperor Zhudi, shortly after the Ming Dynasty moved from Nanjing to Beijing with an average altitude of 3,282 feet (1000 meters). Unfortunately, in order to avoid the traffic on the main highway, our driver decided to take a shortcut from the tombs to the wall. We ended up lost on back road in the mountains, as the only automobile among literally thousands of big trucks. It took us over an hour and a half to travel the short distance from the Ming Tombs to the Badaling Great Wall. But it was a very interesting detour! The Great Wall at Badaling, did not disappoint. Pictures, due to a rather hazy afternoon, do not quite do it justice.
We returned to Beijing and had dinner with Professor YOU Bin, Professor of Comparative Scripturally at Minzu, who is interested in sending graduate students to Emmanuel College for advanced degrees.
On Saturday, Kang Di from Minzu University accompanied us as we visited the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Pictured here are the Hall of Central Harmony (constructed originally in 1420, but rebuilt in 1627) and the Nine Dragon Screen Wall constructed by Emperor Qianlong in the mid-1700s, and the Monument to the People's Heroes in Tiananmen Square.
Sunday, we made our way to Seoul. Hyereong Park, a graduate assistant of Yonglae Kim's at Methodist University, picked us up at the airport. Dr. Yonglae Kim is a Professor of Christian Education who spent some of his research leave in Toronto last year. We settled into the hotel on Sunday afternoon and evening. On Monday, we met for lunch with Dr. Yonglae Kim, Dr. Sung-Bae Chang, Dean of International Studies at Methodist Theological University, and Dr. Hoo-Jung Lee, Professor of Historical Theology and had a good conversation about theological education in Seoul and the potential of making new connections between Emmanuel College and Methodists in Korea.
Afterwards, we visited the National Cemetery of Seoul, which offered a very fine view of downtown Seoul from the graveside of President Park Chung-Hee (president from 1963-1979 when he was assassinated by the director of his intelligence services).
I spent Tuesday at Methodist Theological University. In a meeting with President Hong-Ki Kim, we signed an agreement to create possibilities of exchange for faculty and students.
We had lunch with the newly appointed Methodist bishops in Korea.
After lunch, I had an opportunity to address a large gathering of students celebrating worship together during the school's chapel service. Students collected an offering during the Lord's Supper to be sent to North Korea. Christians in the South often send food and money to the North Korean people through Christian connections. Ironically, a half hour later, the North Korean government fired artillery on Yeongpyeong Island (120km, or 75 miles, west of Seoul).
Late Tuesday afternoon, Hyereong Park took Jeffica and me to see "Nanta", a nonverbal performance that integrates Korea's traditional rhythm, Samulnori, with comedy. The theater was located in the well-known Myeong-Dong area of the city.
Wednesday morning, we made our way by taxi to Yonsei University to the College of Theology (and the United Graduate School of Theology) building where we met with Dean Suk Hwan Jeung, Professor of Pastoral Counselling (on the right below), and Associate Dean Hyun Shik Jun, Professor of Systematic Theology and Ecofeminism (on the left below).
At noon, following an introduction including some contemporary Christian music, I preached in the College Chapel for the Wednesday service.
Dr. Dwight N. Hopkins, Professor of Theology in the University of Chicago Divinity School, and Dr. Lewis Ray Rambo, Research Professor of Psychology and Religion at San Francisco Theological Seminary, are both serving as visiting professors at Yonsei during this term and can be seen in the second row of the chapel during the service.
Following chapel, we had lunch together with several faculty (see picture above) from the Graduate School of Theology, including Associate Dean Jun (standing in front of me), Professor Young Gweon You, Pastoral Counselling, and Professor Yang-Ho Lee, Church History (on the right end). Also pictured here, between Professor You and Professor Lee, is Dwight Hopkins. On the left, next to Jeffica, are Professor Rambo and his spouse, Judy. On the very left end is Dr. Jai-Keun Choi, Visiting Professor of Church History at Yonsei, who also happens to be a graduate of Emmanuel College. Yonsei offers many opportunities for both our students and faculty since 30% of all their classes are offered in English. The Dean, Associate Dean, and I will continue conversations about the possibility of some exchange program beginning between Yonsei University's United Graduate School of Theology and Emmanuel College. Late on Wednesday afternoon, I met with Kiho Yi, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Liberal Arts at Hanshin University and Director of the Centre on Peace and Integrity in the University. We had a very interesting conversation about religious groups in both North and South Korea and what role they might play in leading to peace on the Korean peninsula.
Thursday marked the occasion of the Hanshin International Conference on "Theological Education in a Pluralistic World." The invitation I received earlier this year to deliver one of the four plenary addresses at the conference established the original reason for my trip to Hong Kon, Beijing, and Seoul. The other three plenary addresses were delivered by Dr. Sooil Chai, President of Hanshin University, Dr. Choan-Seng (C.S.) Song, Professor at Yu Shan Theological Seminary and Chang Jong Christian University in Taiwan (and formerly of the Pacific School of Religion in California for over twenty years), and Dr. Ferenc Szucs, Faculty of Theology Chair of Systematic and Ecumenical Studies at the Karoli Casper Reformed University in Budapest, Hungary. (An aside, in 1999, Emmanuel graduate Jea Eun oh submitted his doctoral dissertation at Emmanuel College on the "suffering God" in theologies of C.S. Song and Jurgen Moltmann.) We met in the morning at Hanshin University and had lunch together near the campus. After lunch, I was interviewed by She-Won Hwang, a reporter for the Kukmin Daily Newspaper in Seoul about our Muslim Studies program at Emmanuel College. The Kukmin Daily is a newspaper serving largely the Christian community in Seoul, and the paper was quite interested in our new program at Emmanuel.
The international conference began at 2:00pm. My lecture was titled "Pluralistic and Urban: Theological Education and Religious Diversity in Toronto." To my right at the table is President Chai, and at the microphone is the Dean of the Graduate School of Theology at Hanshin University, Dr. Sung-Young Kang, who is also the Professor of Christian Ethics at Hanshin.
Also pictured at the table are Dr. Song and Dr. Szuc. The following picture shows the Hall form the back.
Pictured with me standing in front of the conference banner is the Rev. Dr. In-Sung Chi, graduate of Emmanuel's doctoral program and pastor of YEDARM Presbyterian Church, the largest PROK congregation in Korea.
While at the conference, I also met the Rev. Dr. Chai Yong Choo, Director of the Institute for Christian Piety and Theology in Korea, and Professor Emeritus at Hanshin University. Dr. Choo spent some time at Emmanuel College in the past and passed along his greetings to Professor Wenh-In Ng.
On Friday morning, Dr. Jeong-Woo Lee, doctoral graduate from Emmanuel a few years ago, picked Jeffica and me up at the hotel and took us to Changdeokgung Palace (Palace of Prospering Virtue), and imperial palace originally constructed on the east side of the capital city in 1405. The palace is especially known for its fulfillment of the Feng Shui principle of "baesanimsu" (being in complete harmony with the environment surrounding it). Jeong-Woo and I are pictured here in front of the gate leading to Injeongjeon Hall (in the background - the Hall of National Treasure where the throne of Changdeokgung is located).
We had lunch on Friday with Jeong-Woo and In-Sung Chi (both Emmanuel graduates) and with Dr. Jaecheon Lee, Director of the Institute of Theological Studies in the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK).
After lunch, In-Sung Chi drove us over to Ewha Woman's University to meet with Dr. Kyung Mi Park, Dean of the Graduate School of Theology, and Director of the Ewha Institute for Women's Theological Studies. During our meeting, she expressed her personal appreciation for the influence of Emmanuel College alums on Christianity in Korea (including, of course, such notables as Nam-Dong Suh, an influential founder of Minjung Theology in Korea who died in 1984, the Rev. Jae Rin Moon who devoted his life to the pro-democracy movement of South Korea, the Rev. Jeong Jun Kim who acted on behalf of social justice and the church participation in Korean society, Dr. Dae Wi Jeong, who served as both professor and principal at Hanshin University, and Woo Jeong Lee, a woman civil rights activist who served as a member of the 14th National Assembly in Korea, as well as numerous other alums who have served either as faculty members over the years at Hanshin, Yonsei, and Ewha, or as pastors in the Presbyterian Church , PROK). We also met Professor Hee-Sung Chang, Professor of Pastoral Counselling at the Ewha Graduate School of Theology and Chair of the Department of Christian Studies. This picture was taken in the Chapel at Ewha Woman's University, where services are held every Sunday morning for the University community. Professor Chang is on the left end next to Dr. Chi. Dean Park is next to me on the right.
From Ewha, I headed to the Sejong Hotel to meet with President Chai and Dean Kang of Hanshin University at 5:00pm, before the president's dinner concluding the International Conference, to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding student and faculty exchanges. Here, President Chai and I are seen signing the two copies of the MOU.
Following the dinner, the speakers and organizers of the conference took a final picture together just outside the restaurant at the Sejong Hotel.
From left to right, are Professor Kyung-Chul Park, Professor of the Theology of the Old Testament at Hanshin, Associate Dean Yeong-Mee Lee, who is also the Associate Academic Dean of Hanshin's Graduate School of Theology and the main organizer of the Conference, the Toulouses, the Songs of Thailand, Dr. Ferenc Szucs of Hungary, President Chai, Dean Kang, and the Rev. Dr. Chi.
On Saturday morning, Jeffica and I prepared to leave the hotel for the Incheon International Airport. Hyereong Park, from Methodist Theological Seminary, picked us up at 1:00pm. On the way to the airport, we spent an hour at an art gallery downtown looking at the beautiful exhibit of the calligraphy work of Shin Il Song (on exhibit from November 24-30, 2010). Mr. Song is a Methodist elder at a church in Seoul who has won the top award given by the International Calligraphers Association in Korea. We are pictured here with him in front of his rendition of the Sermon on the Mount (from Matthew) in ancient Chinese characters.
We arrived at the airport around 2:45 pm on Saturday afternoon (12:45am Toronto time). Our plane from Seoul was delayed, departing at around 9:00pm Saturday night (7:00am Toronto time). After a few hours layover in Vancouver, we arrived home in Toronto at 12:30am on Sunday morning, November 28 (2:45 pm on Sunday afternoon in Seoul). This was just about 24 hours after we had arrived at the Seoul airport. Needless to say, we were just a bit jet-lagged. But it was certainly good to be home.
It has been a busy couple of days. We left Hong Kong on Tuesday after seeing some sights of the city on Tuesday. The weather was quite hot in Hong Kong, between 25 and 27 during the day with high humidity. But while trying to see some of the city, there was a pretty strong fog. This made it difficult to see much of Victoria Harbour, and made the view of the Peak in Hong Kong a bit less spectacular than it otherwise might have been. The city remains, however, quite beautiful.