In Singapore, Korean memories

Just arrived in Singapore with Andika Mongilala, reminds me of the last time I was here, 33 years ago in July 1989, travelling to Pyongyang to attend the World Festival of Youth and Students in a WSCF delegation.
My dear wife Caroline Reid had to mail my visa to me here in Singapore as the North Koreans said I had to travel on the World Student Christian Federation visa, not the Australian Socialist Party visa which I had received. I had not received the visa from WSCF Geneva before going to South Korea, from where I had to travel all the way to Singapore to get to the Hermit Kingdom. I vividly remember going by taxi to meet the plane from Australia here at Changi Airport where the mail was tipped out on the tarmac and I found the letter with my WSCF visa. I got to the North Korean Soviet Ilyushin plane just in time at midnight.

Quite a stressful adventure, and interesting memories of a tumultuous time after the Tian An Men Square massacre and before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Tragic that North Korea remains such a backward and oppressive enclave while their compatriots in South Korea, with the same history and culture and language over 5000 years, are relatively rich and free.

We used to sing a song with the Korean Student Christian Federation “Our hope for unification, even in sleep it is our dream, we offer even our lives for the unity of our land. Come to us unification, all people in this land pray for you, we offer even our lives for the unity of our land.” Link

Visiting the two Koreas influenced me to see Christianity as having immense potential for reconciliation, and also to see that communist ideology is a source of poverty and tyranny. Seeing the contrast between systems inspired me to read most of the books of Solzhenitsyn mocking the Soviet regime.

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