By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik with Editorial Writer Choe Duk-ha, Reporter Sua Kim
Rev. Kim Hwa-bok of the Segeh Gospel Mission (SGM) in Seoul is told apart from other Christian leaders in Korea for many reasons. Standing out from them is his aloofness from worldly things, especially the monetary matters. There is no requirement on the part of the worshippers or anything related with monetary donations, including tithes.
“I recently visited the Korean residents living in the Russian Federation in the vicinity of the Khabarovsk City in the Far East, and saw good opportunities for the ethnic Koreans living there to improve their livelihood by upgrading their farming methods,” said Rev. Kim at a recent interview with The Korea Post media, established 33 years ago and owning and operating 3 English and 2 Korean news media.
Rev. Kim stated that the people in the region, both Korean descendants and the Russian citizens, were very nice and helpful to the Korean visitors—reflecting the friendly attitude on the part of the Russian people toward Koreans.
“The land around Khabarovsk is very fertile and there is plenty of land useful for agriculture, and I have a good mind to cultivate cabbage and radish farms there, produce good-quality kimchi and other traditional Korean pickles, and supply them to the people not only in Russia but also in the near countries such as China.”
Founded in May 1858, Khabarovsk is situated on the Amur River in the southeastern region of the Russian Federation and on its waterfront is the Muravyov-Amursky Park, with a towering bronze statue of a former governor.
“I saw a wonderful prospect of improvement of living of the Koreans there (descendants of the Korean emigrants to Siberia during the Japanese Occupation of Korean from 1910 to 1945) through improvement of their farming method,” disclosed Rev. Kim with a smile of confidence in his ambitious plan.
The Khabarovsk City has a special meaning to the people in North Korea in the fact that the city is the place of birth of the first-term President of North Korea, the late former Chairman Kim Il-sung (founder of the North Korean regime and the grandfather of incumbent Chairman Kim Jong Un). In fact, Kim Il-sung is known to have been born at the Red Flag Unit of the 88th Division of the then Soviet Far Eastern Region Army.
Rev. Chairman Kim of the Segeh Gospel Mission, where Segeh means ‘the world,’ has begun expanding the words of benevolence of God to the Korean residents and their friends in many other parts of the world.
Large church estate in Yeoncheon County of Gyeonggi Province in Korea
Rev. Chairman Kim is considered a unique Christian religious leader in Korea—and perhaps around the world.
As was briefly mentioned earlier, Rev. Chairman Kim is seen aloof from matters related with worldly things, including the revenue of the church.
It may sound strange to many people, but his church (in spite of such a position, or due to it), has been continuously growing at a considerable measure and pace—as was briefly mentioned earlier.
The Segeh Gospel Mission has also grown at a remarkably rapid pace, and continues to grow—perhaps because of his aloofness from worldly affairs.
Rev. Chairman Kim and his church manage a very large land estate in the Yeoncheon County area of the Gyeonggi Province in the vicinity of the central-western sector of the Demilitarized Zone running about the middle of the Korean peninsula. The church estate is located about 52.2 miles north of Seoul, a distance of about an hour’s run by car from Seoul.
The church estate has a large picnic site facing the picturesque Hantan River which is considered one of the most scenic tourist destinations of the country for the rare beauty of rocky cliffs which are rarely seen in any other region of Korea south of the DMZ.
The estate also has a well-furnished, newly built church building with an accommodation capacity of up to 10,000 people sitting snugly in a picturesque valley with thickly wooded slopes.
However, the main Sunday church service is held at the church in Seoul located in Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, in the central western area of Seoul. This church has an accommodation capacity of over 1,000 persons. At Sunday services, the church is filled by worshippers. Here again, it appears that the number continues to grow thanks to the good principle of Rev. Chairman Kim. It appears that things happen in his favor whenever he wishes something desired to be done for the benefit of his cause and the church.
In fact, he started spreading the good news of God in the early stage of his involvement in the Christian religion. More than 50 years ago, Rev. Kim offered prayers at the Gasan Prayer House on the Palgong-san Mountain in the vicinity of the Daegu City, Gyeongsangbuk-do Province, which was about 600 meters above sea level, where he heard the voice of God.
During the prayers, Rev. Chairman Kim heard His voice saying: “I say unto you that you shall be a revivalist and be a servant in the last days from this time forward.”
Three months after his encounter with God, Rev. Chairman Kim called a meeting of prayers. A total of eight persons came at the first meeting. He continued his work following the words of God and soon the number of believers increased to 280.
Rev. Chairman Kim continued holding Revival Meetings in all parts of the country for three years with hundreds of believers attending each meeting.
Q: You appear to have transcended clear from the worldly things and materials matters. What belief has brought you to that state?
A: All my life, I have followed the will of God and tried to fulfill His aims, and it appears that I am looking that way. I trust that God has adopted me as one of his last servants because I am sincere and modest in his view of me. In fact, however, I owe them all to God because I have been guided that way by Him.
In July 1973, three years after he established the Seoul Jungang Church, God favored Rev. Kim with His guidance to establish the Jerusalem Monastery in Yeoncheon, Gyeonggi Province. There were about 40 members of the church at the time when the work started but, with the passage of time, many of them left saying that they were not well, and only seven of them continued the work. However, the work continued with participants growing in number—and with the passage of time it has grown to a large church estate as is seen today.
Affiliated organization of Segeh Gospel Mission (SGM)
Jan. 1. 1968: Segeh Gospel Mission (SGM) founded
Jan. 1. 1970: Seoul Jungang Church founded
Sep. 24. 1973: Jerusalem Monastery founded
Jun. 1976: East West school of Theology founded
Sep. 24. 1977: A monument dedicated to the memory of the Christian martyrs founded
Jan. 1. 1980: The Most Holy Place of the SGM founded
Jan.1.1988: Immanuel Monastery founded
Jan. 21. 1996: The hall of Jacob built
Dec.21.1998 Yahweh Nissi Monastery founded
Oct. 10. 2010: The Hanminjok Holy Temple founded
Jan.1.1988 Immanuel Monastery founded
SGM churches overseas
Now, as he mentioned briefly at the beginning, Rev. Chairman Kim wants to expand his church service to various countries around the world to the Korean residents there and also to their local indigenous friends and acquaintances.
In fact, Rev. Kim has already started implementing this plan, and has church temples in various countries of the world, including the United States, Japan, Russia and other countries.
Rev. Chairman Kim opened a large temple in an area north of the Los Angeles City of the United States. Rev. Kim started performing missionary work overseas in 1978—establishing churches. He hosted religious meetings in the United States and sought ways to further expand his activities.
Rev. Chairman Kim disclosed that his church (SGM) also operates a church in Yokohama of Japan. He
Chairman Kim admitted that the going was tough in Japan in the fact that the Japanese people had their own traditional religion, Shintoism, and therefore preaching Christian religions was a rather tough-going in Japan.
Asked to introduce his religious activities in Japan, Rev. Kim stated that spread of the Christian religion in Japan was difficult compared with other countries of the world. Perhaps this is because of the strong influence of Shintoism, which is the original religion of Japan, where they worship Amaderasu Omikami (the Sun Goddess of Japan), who is also known as 'the Great Divinity Illuminating the Heaven' who is the sun goddess, the most important deity of the Shinto religion and ruler of Takama no Hara (the High Celestial Plain), the domain of kami or spirits. According to the historical records of Kojiki and Nihon Shoki in Japanese mythology, the emperors of Japan are considered to be the direct descendants of the Sun Goddess, Amaderasu Omikami.
Asked what other country or countries his church had a plan to expand the words of God, Rev. Chairman Kim said, “One of our target countries is China.”
Rev. Kim stated that some of the people in China had a tough-going in terms of livelihood and that he was considering providing some material assistance to the needy people in the country. There are many ethnic Koreans living in the Yanji City area and it is important to spread the good news.
Affiliated organization of Segeh Gospel Mission (SGM)
Feb. 21. 1996: The Monastery for new life in US
Jul. 1997: Moasan Monastery in Yanji city in China
Jun. 2000: Yokohama Maranatha church in Japan
Mar. 2012: Khabarovsk Central Church
Spread of the Gospel to North Korea
On the outlook of expansion of missionary activities to North Korea, Rev. Kim stated: “I am sure that there is a great portion of population in North Korea, who would affirmatively respond to our activities of spreading the blessings of God. It has not been openly discussed but there were many people who affirmatively responded to our efforts of spreading the benevolence of God to the people.
“North Korea is not an open society. However, when they were approached with the words of God, I found most of the people responding affirmatively.
“I met with a North Korean and stayed at his house for one week. He was the chairman of a local committee of the Communist Party, who lived in the neighborhood of the Palace of the late founding Chairman Kim Il-sung of the Workers Party of North Korea.
“I stayed with him for three days and offered prayers holding his hands in mine. On one Friday when I was about to leave there for South Korea, the man held my hands firmly and confessed what he had God in the depth of his mind.”
The man told Rev. Kim, “I used to attend church in the past, but now we have no freedom to attend any organization such as a church. And I hope that you would kindly understand my situation.”
Rev, Kim asked him if he had a land and he said yes and disclosed that he had his land near the Daesong-san Mountain on one side of the Taedong River in Pyongyang. The man asked Rev. Kim if he could call him ‘Elder Brother’ and he told him yes. Rev. Kim told him, “We are brothers in belief.”
Thereafter, Rev. Kim had no more chance to go to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. However, he believes that there are people, perhaps a good number of them unnoticed but believing in God without being noticed by others, in that capital and other parts of North Korea, who sincerely believe in God.
There is another distinction telling the Segeh Gospel Mission apart from other churches in Korea and around the world, for that matter. At the SGM, Rev. Kim reads the Bible and truthfully conveys the meaning of the words of God exactly as indicated in the Bible—in contrast with other churches where it is not done in the same manner or fashion.
Rev. Kim has written and had some 30 books published.
List of books
An Exposition on Revelation
An Exposition on Isaiah
An outline of Eschatology
Land of Glory
Achievement of prophecy
New Jerusalem of Glory
Mystery of Candle
The Praise of Glory. Etc.
The Yeoncheon County, where the ‘Kingdom of God’ is located
The Yeoncheon County, where the local religious estate of Rev. Kim is located, is considered a foreigner-friendly region in the Republic of Korea (south). The mayor is Mr. Kim Gyu-seon who is noted for an exceptionally welcome attitude to all the visitors to his Country.
“I would like to give my warm welcome with wide open arms to all of the visitors who come to us at Yeoncheon, the Best Yeoncheon, the Prestigious Yeoncheon, and County of Dream and Hopes,” says Mayor Kim to visitors to his county from all parts of the world as well as from within Korea.
Basic facts about the Yeoncheon County:
Population: 45,619 persons of 20,685 households (as of August 31, 2014)
Area: 675.22 km2 (5th place in Gyeonggi-do, 1.2 times of Seoul)
Protection zone of military installations: 660.61 km2 (98%)
Administrative district: 2 eups, 8 myeons, 96 ris and 616 bans.
Number of schools: 23 schools (15 elementary schools, 6 junior high schools, 2 high schools)
Number of business organizations: 87 enterprises hiring some 1,255 employees
Paving rate of road: 313 km (65%)
The Yeoncheon County, where the church estate of Rev. Kim’s Segeh Gospel Mission is located, is also noted for a good number of attractive tourist destinations, They include the Hantan River Resorts, the Gamak-san Mountain, the Godae-san Mountain, the Jaein Waterfalls, and the Royal Tomb of King Gyeongsun of the Silla Kingdom, who was the 56th and final ruler of the Silla Period.
The Jeongong-ni Prehistoric Site is rated as a prime area on the Korean peninsula for the study of Paleolithic Age relics and is located on a hilly region at an altitude of 61 meters near the Hantan River.
A variety of paleolithic relics have been discovered at Jeongong-ni, first in 1978. Since 1993 the Yeoncheon Jeongong-ni Paleolithic Festival has celebrated the discovery.
The Hantan River flows under a precipice cut by the erosion of a basalt deposit which once formed the floor of a valley and the basalt deposit is surrounded by a low, hilly terrain eroded by weathering for a long time.
The Jeongong-ni Prehistoric Site has a geological base of granite gneiss formed during the Precambrian Era and a sand gravel layer (Baegui-ri layer) formed by stream channel deposition before the eruption of basalt is widely distributed along the Hantan River.
Hardened lava which erupted in Cheolwon, Pyeonggang and other areas of the Gangwon Province forms a thick basalt layer and the relics of the Paleolithic era are excavated from sedimentary layers such as clay and sand accumulated on the basalt layer
This representative Paleolithic site in Korea was discovered by an American soldier who visited Hantan river resort in the winter of 1978 and found a stone implement on the ground.
The soldier brought the found stone implement to the late Prof. Won-Ryong Kim at Seoul National University and Prof. Kim and Prof. Young-Hwa Jung at Youngnam University confirmed it as an Asheulean Paleolithic remain. The site became an internationally recognized Paleolithic site.
Jeongong-ni prehistoric site is located in the basalt ground surrounded by the Hantan River in the south of the downtown area of Jeongok. Gneiss and granite, which are metamorphic rocks formed in Precambrian period, are the foundation. The rock layer was widely covered by basalt formed at the bottom of the Imjin and Hantan rivers by eruption from the Pyeonggang area of the Gangwon Province.
Red clay-accumulated layer and sand layer are formed on the basalt, and upper clay layer of this accumulative substance is Paleolithic culture layer, in which many stone implements have been discovered.
Since finding of Asheulean stone implements including hand axes and cleavers in 1978, researches to identify characteristics of the site have been carried out and over 3,000 pieces of remains were discovered through 11 excavations. The finding of the stone works opened a new chapter of the world Paleolith research by modifying Moebius theory dividing Paleolithic Culture into East Asia and Africa-Europe by presence of stone works until late 1970s.
In addition, it encouraged many researches to understand Paleolithic culture in East Asia in a new perspective, and produced large volume of Paleolith researches worldwide as well as domestically.
Research on Jeongong-ni prehistoric site led to the 4th term of geological research on area of Hantan and Imjin rivers, and the site attracts many geologists’ attention, and provides important research material to geology as well as archeology.
Currently in Jeongong-ni prehistoric site, viewing facilities for Paleolithic remains and resources, and outdoor structures that show the living in that period of history are arranged harmoniously with natural environment to help with understanding of Paleolithic age.
Curriculum vitae of Rev. Chairman Kim
Place of birth: 29 Deongri, Dain-myeon, Uiseong-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea
Date of birth: October 13, 1933
Present address: Seoul Central Church (Segeh Gospel Mission), 9-gil, 80, Gyeonggi Daero, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul.
March 1956: Graduated from Daehan Theological Seminary
Sept. 1959: Ordained Minister, the Presbyterian Church of Korea.
Jan. 1, 1970 to date: Minister in charge at the Seoul Jungang Church of the Presbyterian Church of Korea.
July. 1973: Establishment of the Jerusalem Monastery at the Yeoncheon estate