There is the sense of shame in the Korean culture. It can be called the face-saving culture. It values how other people see you; and in this culture, people are very conscious of someone’s gaze. This culture has a great impact on the lives of Koreans. Because of their culture, Koreans show courtesy to others. Because of it, Koreans do not easily share their difficult family issues with others. When Koreans go to a market across the street, they change to nicer clothing. So, those who moved to the United States, like the independent culture of it so that they do not care about how they look to other people. I cannot conclude that the Korean face-saving culture is all bad or sinful. On the contrary, I cannot either conclude that the independent culture of the US is all good. It is because in Christ, the worldly culture can be transformed into a holy culture, “for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4: 5).
However, as a pastor, I find that this Korean culture has negative influences on Korean churches. Because of it, pastoral counseling within the church has become difficult. There is a Korean-American lady who is working full-time in a large church in the south Puget Sound area. In large churches in Korea, women work full-time for women and children’s ministries. There are about 1,000 members in this church where she has worked for about 30 years. But once she told me that Koreans do not reveal the serious problems of their souls to pastors and elders. That is why there are very few people who come to the pastor for a counseling session.
In this Korean culture, people do not like to be noticed by others. Even being prayed for by many people makes one uncomfortable. In some cases, they feel sorry to be bringing trouble to the pastor. It is because they think it will cause a problem to the pastor and church. So, they often leave the church when an issue is being revealed to other people’s eyes. As a result, people generally ask for prayer for such as illness, college entrance exam, unemployment, etc., but they do not ask for prayer for spiritual problems that actually break down individuals and families.
There is a person who I recently have been counseling. He also goes to a church. However, he does not want to start counseling from his church. I started to counsel him after I encouraged him to notify his session for these counseling sessions. Thankfully, God has changed him slowly over five weeks of counseling. Thankfully, it seems that God planted the seed of salvation in his heart. So, he wanted to have God’s Word as the standard of faith and life. With the work of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, his thoughts were corrected little by little. God helped him not only to see the sorrow of his sin but also see the hope in Jesus Christ. I hope that this precious person of God will be a godly man, a loyal citizen of the United States, and a loyal worker of the Church as a citizen of heaven.
If any culture has not been laid on the basis of the holy Word of God, I believe it is evil to God’s sight, although it looks good to man’s sight. All the cultures of the world can be broken by the word of truth of Christ Jesus. However, as we are glorified by perfect sanctification when we put off this flesh, the Christian’s struggle to escape from worldly culture will continue until the day of death. I hope the Covenant Bible Presbyterian Mission becomes a refuge to God’s people who fight to escape from the worldly culture.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12: 2)
Rev. Myungjoong (Andy) Yong