The King’s Men perform in South Korea
Courtesy | Far East Broadcast Company
South Korea hosted Biola’s men’s a cappella group, The King’s Men, last week as they performed for churches, schools and radio broadcasts. President Barry Corey, who went to South Korea last fall to preach at various churches and promote Biola, asked The King’s Men last spring to accompany him on his next trip.
Jordan Weaver, a junior music education major going on his third year as a member of The King’s Men, said they were invited by Dr. Corey after Billy Kim’s visit to Biola last year accompanied by a children’s choir. Kim is an evangelist in South Korea and chairman for the Far East Broadcasting Company, he welcomed Corey and The King’s Men for a five-day tour.
Accompanying President Barry Corey
“Our main purpose was to just emphasize Dr. Corey’s message. He preached a couple messages at various churches all around South Korea. We performed with him where he spoke, and then at other colleges, high schools separate from him,” Weaver said. “We were just getting Biola out there and also just allowing people to enter a unique time of worship with our music and just to minister to people through the music we prepared.”
Senior music in worship major Caleb Parker described their presence in South Korea as simply a musical group of student advocates for Biola. Parker said that while they mainly performed in church services, they visited and sang at schools, for prayer rallies, and were even broadcast by FEBC on a live TV show podcast.
The King’s Men also had the opportunity to tour cities and historical attractions in Korea, including the Gangnam region of Seoul, as made popular by the well-known song “Gangnam Style.” Senior music major Kerry Payton highlighted the opportunity they had to spend time with their tour guides.
Singing at the world's largest church
“When we weren’t singing we were with those guys … on our first day there they helped give us a tour of the area and were teaching us words and phrases in Korean,” Payton said. “Those people are so gracious and so kind … everywhere we went people were like that. They were respectful, they were humble, they were sacrificial, they just gave to us unconditionally.”
Singing at the world’s largest church their first night in Korea was yet another highlight of the trip, according to senior biblical studies major Mackenzie Burns.
“They have over 800,000 members, including satellite campuses, which is unheard of,” Burns said. “We sang in front of, I think it was 20 or 30 thousand [people].”
The emphasis on prayer, as observed by the members of the King’s Men in the South Korean churches, was one striking difference from that of American churches.
Differences between Korean and American church culture
“Church looks pretty different; there’s a lot of a similarity, but some differences too. When we showed up at the first couple churches there were probably a hundred people in the room already, who were just there, who showed up early to pray. And I’ve never seen that,” Parker said.
Burns also commented on the centrality of prayer in the Korean church culture.
“The prayer service, the 6 a.m., was very impactful, just seeing their devotion and love of prayer,” Burns said. “In America this is so underrated, but they really take it seriously.”
While Payton said they mainly performed English songs and hymns, the King’s Men had the opportunity to sing a traditional Korean song at a church service.
"A glimpse of what heaven is going to be like"
“It was just pretty special to have people singing along with us while we were singing in Korean,” Payton said, “kind of giving me, especially in the churches, a glimpse of what heaven is going to be like, when every tribe, tongue, and nation is going to come together and sing praises unto God. And we can all sing in our respective languages and know that we’re all worshiping the same God.”
While the trip in its entirety was an incredible experience for the group, Burns summed it up by citing the opportunity to perform to the glory of God.
“It was God who had brought us there, God who had put us all together; it was God who was keeping our voices healthy, and just keeping things running smoothly during the trip; and not taking the credit for ourselves, that was the most important thing,” Burns said.
The King’s Men were able to sell copies of their newly recorded CD in Korea; according to Weaver, their album will be released for sale at Biola this semester.