Christians in Media – Korea

So its holidays and I’m starting a series more based on my interest in Asian pop-culture. I admit it is partially an excuse to indulge in my interest in it 😛

As Christians, although we are forgiven and have the Spirit, it is still difficult to live boldly and be great witnesses for Christ in our daily lives. Whether we are students, or workers. In Australia, the persecution is not physical but it is more to do with pressure to conform and not speak out. And that’s just for ‘normal’ people. That’s why it particularly interests me when people under public scrutiny are speaking out as Christians. People with thousands or even millions of fans. The point of these posts is to cast the spotlight on some notable Christians like this. Today we are starting with Korea (or K-pop culture).

Operation World has the Evangelical Christian population at 16.8% which is relatively high. This means that people can generally be publicly Christian without too much persecution. However with the wide spread nature of K-pop, there are also millions and millions of international fans. Let’s take a look at a few who stand out.

Choi Siwon (Super Junior)

This guy is SUPER FAMOUS. He’s been in numerous ads, acted in dramas and he is a member of Super Junior. Apparently he’s face has been on Chinese postage stamps! To be honest, he doesn’t get a lot of singing parts in the group, he’s kinda the ‘handsome face’ of the group. Super Junior themselves were recently awarded ‘Best Global Group – Male’ at the recent Mnet Asian Music Awards as voted by K-pop fans all around the world. Here are some notable ways he’s living out his faith:

  1. In a CNN interview, he states wants to become a missionary after his music career. The interview seemed pretty surprised.
  2. On another TV show, he said his ‘ideal type’ first of all, had to be a Christian girl
  3. He’s sung Christian songs at Super Junior concerts. I think this is great. Particularly because so many of their concerts are outside Korea. Here’s clips of him singing Casting Crowns ‘Who Am I?’ in Malaysia (?), and ‘Your Grace is Enough’ in Japan.
  4. He’s partnered with a group called ‘3rd wave’, who wants to see a Third Awakening, using music as a platform to fulfil God’s purpose for mission. Siwon raised money through his fan base for this group as well as singing with them.
  5. He’s pubicly spoken out against homosexuality and received a stack of criticism particularly for his apparent hypocritical (gay) behaviour towards other band members (you can google this – I won’t attempt to comment or verify the truth of these claims).
  6. He has posted many photos of their bible study group (which contains several notable K-pop artists) as well as Christian messages on his Twitter asking people to pray.

Now that seems pretty bold things to me. I mean (2) absolutely does not appeal to so many fan-girls. (5) is offensive to many. Even if it did somehow appeal to the number of Christian fans in Korea, it certainly doesn’t appeal to all and especially fans outside of South Korea (which are very sizeable). Of course being so famous, he does get criticized often and anything hypocritical gets revealed straight away.

However, it’s really encouraging seeing his influence particularly reaching to areas like Japan, where there are very few Christians. It’s so bold and out there, he seems to have a lot to lose as well.

Sunye (Wonder Girls)

Sunye is the leader of the group Wonder Girls. You may remember them as the girl group who brought the world the catchy song ‘Nobody’. So yeah, they are pretty famous too. This girl was making news relatively recently with her upcoming wedding plans. It was notable for a few reasons:

  1. She is relatively young to get married, it would affect the group’s marketability as well as her future career prospects. Usually K-pop ‘idols’ marry and have relationships when they retire and have dating bans imposed on them. Being  K-pop “idol” is a FT job with a stack of overtime, how would she cope with being a wife too? Her marriage at this age even prompted some to think that she may have been pregnant and going for a shot-gun wedding.
  2. Her fiance is a Korean-Canadian missionary in Haiti, and so there’s speculation/assumptions that at some stage, she may move to Canada or Haiti, therefore possibly leaving her Wonder Girls career behind.

That’s a lot to lose isn’t it. Here’s a clip of her being interviewed a church. I found this really encouraging as you can tell she is completely unashamed of her faith and love for Jesus.

“Yes, I’m crazy about Jesus”

(In response to ‘the best part about being her’) “…that God came to meet me, not I find Jesus now I’m just grateful that I met Jesus Christ in person, and he died for me…so I’m willing to die for him and live by Holy Spirit…everytime I go up on stage, I think I am a missionary for Jesus Christ…my identity does not belong to this world…”

Actually, its great that her bosses seem to be very accepting and positive of her decision to get married, even though it may affect the group’s marketability. Perhaps its a reflection of Christianity in Korea.

Kevin and Xander (U-KISS)

Both English-speaking members of U-KISS and from the states. Although they are not as popular group, I do like some of their songs. Kevin is one of the main vocalists.

  1. In a TV show, in talking about things he brings around everywhere, he whips out, an mp3 player, family photo and a Quiet Times devotional.
  2. He spoke about being in the praise team at church as the song leader.
  3. When you go to his Twitter, you can see right there his identity (btw ‘Kiss-Me’ is the fan group name):


Xander is no longer part of the group, and when he left apparently he was the most popular member so there was quite a backlash. But he’s also joined with Third Wave. You can see his thoughts about it here:

“Being with 3rd wave means showing people see the real side of me…its actually showing people my passion for God”

As you can see, he’s pretty full on and passionate about producing Contemporary Christian Music.

Daesung (BIGBANG)

BIGBANG is also, globally an INSANELY popular group (one of my favs, in fact). Member of super group BIGBANG, Daesung made headlines for his car accident in which a motorcyclist was killed. It was found that he was partially responsible. In this difficult time, he took a long break from music and hid away at church. This is an interview conducted by his church with him around the time he re-entered music.

A lot of entertainers commit suicide, and now, I completely understand why. I’m not saying I was thinking about it, but if it weren’t for my faith, I could have possibly gone down that road. So I was so thankful. I thanked the Lord that he had given me this faith.”

I have been spiritually blessed through Bible Study, and I know that I will experience a blessing that I’ll soon see with my eyes. I ask the Lord to continue to change me so that I may be of use to his Kingdom. I pray that I will never lose this faith, this state of mind that I have right now.”

It’s nice to see that he used this time of trial to reflect on his faith and that God used it to grow him.

I hope you’ve been challenged and encouraged by their examples. I’m sure you’ll see now and again they fail and sin as we all do. In an industry where apparently there is a high suicide rate for entertainers, hopefully they can be a light to their peers as well as fans. It must be so difficult so I guess now and again we can think of those in these influential positions and pray for them as well as being encouraged by their boldness.

In the following weeks I hope to do similar posts on Asian Americans, Taiwan, HK and maybe even Japan (if I can find enough material!). So stay tuned 🙂

Published by gracelung

I'm passionate about helping ABC's integrate faith with our ethnic identity as well as developing ethnic / culturally aware churches.

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