Professor Chung Hyung Kyung teaches at Union Theological Seminary in NYC, when she is not researching or talking with people around the world who are inspired by her story and her wisdom. Kidnapped and tortured in Korea as a university student, Hyun Kyung survived, emigrated to the United States and completed her graduate work in theology. She describes herself as a good Presbyterian girl growing up in Korea and has lived in a monastery in Tibet practicing Buddhist meditation, which she has incorporated into her faith and her feminism.
The Ted talk pictured above will give you a sense of her vibrant presence and how she views her Christian and Buddhist practice. An ongoing theme in her talk was breaking open – that hearts will be broken, but from that brokenness comes new life and new ways for the light to enter. She started her presentation with an invitation to forgive those who have wronged us and spoke about a series of men who were sent to torture her. Making a connection with her oppressors allowed her to postpone the inevitable torment, until she met a man whom she described as having suffered “soul loss.” Her talk was in honor of the man whose dead eyes betrayed no empathy for the young woman who had to choose between saving her lover or protecting her friends after withstanding the most violent abuse.
I spoke with many women who had been abused or even tortured. Some, as a result of government persecution and others, personally. They were all challenged to forgive what none could forget and they moved forward with courage and humor, some days better than others. Their hearts were broken and mended by an ongoing effort to live and love with respect for all. Dr. Irene Martinez was one of the wisdom circle presenters who spoke of her experience as a political prisoner in Argentina. In all these stories of abuse, the support of women for one another shined through, underscoring the intrinsically relational nature of who we are. We are partners in the dance of life, with much light to share.
Dr. Chung will lead a group of women across the DMZ into North Korea next summer. Women from the North and South have been meeting periodically to exchange recipes, talk about daily life and come to agreement that we all want a peaceful life. Our hearts are with them as they reach out in sisterhood across the barriers inflicted by war and famine in support of peace and healing.