I know better than to accuse someone groundlessly, but having seen both the good and the ugly in my three decades inside the Korean American churches it is hard not to cling on my experience and intuition when I see a clergy openly hint at something.

The head of well-known North Korean ministry in South Korea was visiting Albuquerque not too long ago, and the main purpose of his visit was to gain support for his ministry of course. My pastor and the elders seemed to have agreed. I think that was his second visit. While eating with him, bunch of church members, and North Korean girls he had brought with him, I noticed that he was comfortably embracing one of the teen girls without hesitation.  I understand that physical touch, and such embrace used to be something very common in Korean culture, and I’m sure all the other adults in the restaurant probably didn’t think much of it, but it really bothered me.  He was sitting down, and one of his arm embraced the girl below the waist around her buttocks after he had called up the girl to introduce her to the group. The girl enthusiastically massaged his shoulders at one point, too. I had an internal knee-jerk reaction. Here’s a pastor who was traveling globally to gain support for this ministry, and yet his actions and how he embraces these girls doesn’t even come close to meeting any international standards on etiquette. Again, let me point out that many adults in his age group is more comfortable about physical touch than subsequent generations, and I even know how such things are rationalized–“oh, he’s treating her like his own daughter”–but enough with the bullshit.

Three decades in different churches, mostly as a youth pastor, taught me that pastors are human beings, with all of its glorious flaws. And many mega-churches have come to ruins because of the illicit conducts of its senior pastors. This is no news. And in light of such cultural failures, you can only expect dimwits to believe that this respectable(?) pastor from Korea is clean with his hands when it comes to dealing with these girls?  If he’s not hesitant about such embraces of these girls in the open air, I don’t want to imagine what he could be capable of when he’s alone with these girls. Growing up hearing so much of sexual misconduct by pastors, I personally became hesitant to even shake hands with youth group girls, much less embrace them “in Christ.”  I had created a big, internal monitor on self to check my thoughts and behaviors. Even with my own daughters, after reaching certain age, I’m more careful about how I embrace them.

Would you allow your own daughter to be handled that way by ANY ONE?  Start there.  I don’t know why these adults continue to allow these self-designated religious leaders to handle girls this way. Since he left, he’s requested to have various things translated–for free. After completing one of the translations, my heart turned weary… with the barrage of news coming from Korea about pastors who secretly raped teenage girls under their care (the latest is so-called the verified “x-file” of pastor Kim Gi-dong of Sungrak Church)… I really pray and hope this specific pastor would be pure in his life, but I’m not naive enough to have no serious doubts about it.