Group of Koreans singing hymns on the Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem

The Jerusalem Post (May 29) reported, “It’s become a mainstay of Saturday nights on the Ben Yehuda Street pedestrian mall in Jerusalem. Between the crowds of Israeli revelers and American teens at the frozen-yogurt shops, a group of Koreans singing hymns vies for attention. It’s one of the most public signs of Israel’s small but growing community of South Koreans, many of whom come to the Holy Land because they are evangelical Christians. Not far from Ben Yehuda, there is a Korean restaurant on nearby Shamai Street and five small Korean churches. …

While official estimates are hard to come by, South Korea’s ambassador to Israel, Ilsoo Kim, estimates that there are about 800 Koreans in about 300 families living in Israel. The number, he said, has been growing in recent years. …

Most Koreans in Israel are visitors to the country on multiyear student visas. Many study Bible at Israeli universities or at Holy Land University, a Christian graduate school that caters to Asians. Roughly 30 percent of Koreans are Christian. A handful have come to Israel to stay.

Kim OK Kyung, 67, is a gregarious Korean-American transplant who arrived from New Jersey three years ago with her husband, a pastor, who had just retired from his church. … Helen Kim, a sociologist at Whitman College in Washington State and a second-generation Korean-American who studies the relationships between Asians and Jews, said she is not surprised by the Korean identification with Israel. ‘There is a massive evangelical presence in Korea,’ she said. ‘There is a general acceptance or understanding and looking to as Jews as really smart, well-educated, financially strong people. For a country that has experienced a lot of economic and political change over such a short time that hasn’t always been on the upswing, it’s not surprising that they would look to Jewish texts and to the Jewish people as examples of a people that have weathered the worst of all storms for close to 6,000 years.'”

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