Mission Church Does Some Seoul Searching

Hostage crisis has Korean Christians pondering direction
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Aug 15, 2007 3:39 PM CDT

(Newser) – As 19 South Korean aid workers wallow in a Taliban prison camp, many in the world community are openly wondering why they were in Afghanistan in the first place. Even as they pray for the release of their fellow parishioners, members of a suburban Seoul church are dodging critics who say their charity mission ignored official warnings about traveling to—let alone proselytizing in—the war zone.

South Korea's burgeoning Christian community—a quarter of the population—has been active in pursuing overseas charity work, but officials confess there's dissent in the ranks. "Even before this incident, debate was under way whether we should be more cautious," a church spokesman said. And the hostage crisis, which has gripped the country for nearly a month, has many urging a scale-back of the overseas missions.