In South Korea, progovemment and opposition factions alike have their fingers crossed following President Chun Doo Hwan’s decision to hold direct presidential elections and enact other reforms suggested by his party chairman, Roh Tae Woo.

Chun, the 56-year-old president of the ruling Democratic Justice Party (DJP), agreed to the reforms last month after nationwide protests began June 10, marking the worst political violence since the former general took power in 1979.

In spite of the domestic unrest, South Korea claims the fastest-growing economy in Asia. That economic growth has whetted Koreans’ appetites for democratic reforms, and many feel these reforms have been painfully slow in coming.

Christians In The Middle

South Korea’s burgeoning Christian population has been caught between the rising expectations for full democracy and pressure to maintain the status quo.

About 25 percent of South Koreans are Christians (compared to about 40 percent who are Buddhists or shamanists), and the church is growing four times as fast as the country’s population.

Some Korean Christians support the political opposition, with many Catholic and mainline Protestant believers practicing civil disobedience. But the majority of evangelical Christians seems unwilling to participate in or sanction demonstrations against the government. Some, like Paul Yonggi Cho, pastor of Seoul’s Yoido Full Gospel Church, which claims more than 500,000 members, seem tolerant of the current regime. At a recent service at Cho’s church, congregational prayers were offered for political leaders, for the “confusion and disorder” in the land, and for the “prosperity and security of the nation.”

Most evangelicals ...

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