Ki-Min Bang, a 2011 McCormick grad and the recipient of the John Hayes Creighton Fund for Graduate Study in the Holy Land, traveled to Jerusalem this summer to learn Modern Hebrew. He was also a recipient of the Nettie F. McCormick Award in Old Testament.
Although he had visited Israel before, this was the first time Ki-Min, 29, who is now working towards his Ph.D. in the field of Old Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, was able to spend concentrated time exploring the country and city.
He took extensive day trips, visited archaeological digs and numerous historic biblical sites, and said that he tried to learn as much as he could about the region’s current political situation. He said that while he found most Palestinians open to discussing relations with Israelis that Israelis themselves were more reluctant to engage. “The Israelis were more sensitive regarding Palestinians,” he said. “There is a lot of complicated history but just to hear their voices and try to understand their situation and sad histories helped me in understanding the complications and their hearts,” he said.
A graduate of Konkuk University in Seoul, who majored in Jewish Studies and German Literature, Ki-Min said he found himself thinking of how the experience of Korea under Japanese 35-year occupation contained echoes of the ancient Israelites. “They had great expectations of their future,” he said of Koreans after the occupation ended in 1945. But, “like the Israelites, they were soon frustrated.” After his doctoral studies, Ki-Min plans to return to Korea and hopes to teach Old Testament. He credited his summer in helping him understand both history and the current world. “Studying the history of Israel helps me as I work to find solutions to Korean social problems,” he said.