Rev Dr. Ock Soo Park – Bringing a song of peace and friendship to Israel from Korea

 Interviewing Dr. Park (photo credit: Gracias Choir)
Interviewing Dr. Park
(photo credit: Gracias Choir)

On a cool and cloudy Friday morning, this reporter traveled to Jerusalem to meet with Rev. Dr. Ock Soo Park, founder of the International Youth Fellowship in Seoul, South Korea. Rev Dr. Park recently visited Israel, together with the Gracias Choir from Korea, to bring a message of peace to Jerusalem, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between South Korea and Israel.

Sitting in his hotel room overlooking Jerusalem’s Old City, Rev. Dr. Park, vital and energetic at the age of 77, resplendent in a blue suit and red tie, discussed the purpose of his visit, relations between South Korea and Israel and his deeply held religious beliefs.

“Korea and Israel have similar roots and many similarities,” says Rev. Dr. Park. “Given the similarities between the two countries, we should be closer and comfort one another.” Rev. Dr. Park says that the Korean people love Israel. It was for this reason, he continues, that he brought the hundred-member Gracias Choir from Korea to share in the good feelings between the two countries and spread happiness and joy. “The choir sang particularly well in Israel, the venue was nice, and the audience was very appreciative,” he says. “The people of Jerusalem have fallen in love with our Choir!” The Gracias Choir performed three times during their visit to Israel, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Peace concert (credit: Gracias Choir)Peace concert (credit: Gracias Choir)

Rev. Dr. Park was born in Korea in 1944, one year before Korea regained its independence from Japan in 1945. He experienced poverty and hardship as a child but found his way in life through ongoing and dedicated Bible study. One of his primary goals in life has been helping young people in their spiritual development in countries around the world. In this role, Rev Dr. Park has met with many leaders in various countries to discuss the important issues confronting today’s youth. In 2001, Rev. Dr. Park founded the International Youth Fellowship, which he says has helped thousands of young people become better human beings.  

Over the years, Rev. Dr. Park has visited Israel five or six times. During his earlier trips, he says, he approached his visits to the Holy Land as religious pilgrimages, visiting important Christian sites in Israel. “This time,” he says, “I spent time meeting with the citizens of Israel, as well as Christians who are living in Israel.”

During his stay in Israel, Rev. Dr. Park also met with Israeli politicians. He addressed the audiences during the course of the three concerts given by the Gracias Choir and says that people responded positively to his remarks. “We all believe in the same God who promised us in Jeremiah, chapter 31. God says that he will forgive their iniquity and will no longer remember their sin, though there are, of course, differences between our religions.”

As our meeting comes to an end, Rev. Dr. Park once again emphasizes the common ties that Israel and South Korea share. “I want to bring other prominent people here and share and exchange ideas with Israel. We are both ‘lonely’ countries. Israel has enemies surrounding it, and South Korea has North Korea and communist countries nearby. Israel and South Korea can encourage one another and go forward together. That’s why we held the concerts here. I hope to return often to Israel. I love this country, and I hope that God will continue to bless Israel.”

This article was written in cooperation with Gracias Choir