Commander hopes to see a Korean become general

By Park Hyung-ki

Salvation Army to extend goodwill assistance to North Korea, 30 countries

  • Published : Dec 7, 2012 - 19:52
  • Updated : Dec 7, 2012 - 20:13
Park Man-hee, Korean Salvation Army commander (Ahn Hoon/The Korea Herald)
Park Man-hee, Korea’s territorial commander and commissioner of the Salvation Army, has dedicated his life to serving those in need since the late 1960s when he first attended an Army church.

With less than a year left to his retirement and the expiration of his three-year command post, Park’s remaining wishes are to see a younger commander carry on the Korean Army’s long-term plan under God, and one day see a Korean voted general of the Salvation Army, which is based in London and administers and oversees its Christian units in 126 countries, by 2028.

“We are implementing this long-term, 20-year plan that aims to foster Korean Christian leaders, and hope to see a Korean one day be elected as general in London by 2028,” Park said in an interview with The Korea Herald.

“The voting system for the general post is similar to that of voting for the Pope (of the Catholic Church),” Park noted.

He added that he would not consider serving another consecutive three-year term even if recommended, saying that it was time for him to retire and let a younger commander to take charge of the Korean Salvation Army and the plan called “Hope Project 2028.”

The general has the authority to appoint territorial commanders in 126 countries for a standard three years, with a possibility of reappointment for extension. Park commands the Army operations not only in South Korea but also Mongolia, Cambodia and North Korea.

The 65-year-old Park said he also hoped to send about 100 Korean missionaries, consisting of not only Army officers but also doctors, architects, IT technicians and accountants, to some 30 developing and underdeveloped countries to help people living in poverty, in line with the 2028 plan.

This includes providing goodwill assistance to North Korea where it began offering charity programs in 2008 by sending medical supplies and remodeling an old hospital built before the Korean War.

“We hope to restart an inter-Korean agriculture program breeding pigs, which was halted in 2010,” Park said.

Its other objective is building a university in Mongolia where future students can learn information technology and automobile engineering. The Korean Salvation Army has set foot in Mongolia to provide welfare and NGO programs for children and elders in 2008 when it celebrated its centennial anniversary. It launched its mission in Cambodia this year.

The Korean Salvation Army aims to raise 5 billion won ($4.6 million) in December during the red kettle donation period, and an additional 2 billion won by October next year for overseas charity, including for North Korea, according to Park.

He said that the Army had already filed and reported this budget plan to the Ministry of Public Administration and Safety.

The Hope Project was developed in 2008, when Park was secretary administer of the Korean Salvation Army. The project was founded on Acts Chapter 1, Verse 8 in the Bible: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The Korean Salvation Army, which has been in the country since 1908, will be celebrating its 120th anniversary in 2028.

By Park Hyong-ki (