On March 10, eight justices from the Supreme Court of Korea unanimously voted for the unprecedented impeachment of President Geun-Hye Park. Among the five grounds for impeachment introduced by the National Assembly, the violation of sovereign power and the constitution was enough to determine her impeachment. In other words, just that violation alone was enough for the impeachment verdict. At the time, I was driving, listening to the decision of the Supreme Court. As Justice Jung-Mi Lee was reading the briefing behind the impeachment, she said, “…we lay this order as a unified Supreme Court with all justices in a unanimous decision to determine the impeachment of President Geun-Hye Park.” Although this outcome was expected by many, my heart ached when thinking of her stepping down by impeachment after a heavy, difficult period of leadership.
When the impeachment trial was approaching, public opinion was split, as many had the Korean flags and candles in hand, even influencing the family and the church. As a father would carry the flag, as his son would carry a candlestick, and church members would sit in the pews, divided in opinion. However, the most painstakingly difficult thing to see was people dying among the demonstrators against the impeachment trial after the decision had been made. Personally, I was more curious to see President Park’s reaction as opposed to the actual decision by the Supreme Court. Whether she was impeached or not, the President should take responsibility for the whirlwind of pain the entire nation endured as well as the many sleepless nights experienced by all Koreans domestic and abroad. If a congregant slips on the pavement in our parking lot, the responsibility ultimately lies with the senior pastor. Why shouldn’t the responsibility of a ’sick’ nation lie with the President who directly and indirectly inflicted this? The position of a leader is definitely a lonely and difficult position. There are so many occasions that make it difficult to breathe with an overwhelming weight of responsibility, comparable to the amount of honor and power the position holds. As I witness the impeachment process, I cannot help but sympathize as a pastor that’s restless from the myriad of responsibilities he faces.
As Jesus saw the many women crying and in pain while he carried his cross towards Golgotha, he uttered these words with deeper meaning, “…Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” (Luke 23:28, ESV.)
To our loving congregants, a church should not be divided by political opinion. The gospel message of the cross stands to become the common denominator between conservatives and liberals. It is because I have faith that although you would carry a flag and a candle for political unity, at church, the cross is sufficient in tying everyone together. Remember the words of “weep for your children,” by the Lord on his way to Golgotha, and let us hush our sentiments and truly, simply, weep.
Rev. Bryan Kim is the lead pastor of Bethel Korean Church, located in Irvine, CA.