South Korea’s very real differences from a totalitarian society give the lie to the widening belief that its present restrictive regime differs little from the repressive conditions that prevailed during the Japanese occupation (1905–1945) or that presently exist under North Korean Communism.

The land with the largest population percentage of Protestant Christians in Asia, South Korea has not curtailed religious liberty of public assembly to worship, to preach the Gospel, to evangelize openly, and to make converts. This is in marked contrast to North Korea, where the disappearance of church buildings is propagandistically attributed to American saturation bombing during the Korean War, while suppression even of an underground church is assured by the requirement that five families lodge together in communes where each family is officially responsible for policing the others. South Koreans voluntarily reject atheistic Communism as a malevolent totalitarian system. They enjoy various rights like that of private property, though they lack freedom of political criticism, dissent, and protest.

It might therefore be understandable if Christians were to forgo other considerations in order to safeguard the noteworthy freedoms they have, in view of South Korea’s accelerated emphasis on national order and security in the aftermath of Communist victories in Indochina and of Kim Il-Sung’s North Korean demand for American withdrawal and the reunification of Korea on his own terms. At what point does one torpedo a ship full of friends because of pointed disagreements with much that its captain—President Park of South Korea—does?

South Korean security precautions must, moreover, be viewed in terms of the ...

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