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Korean theology student excited to learn of new environmental approaches

Korean theology student excited to learn of new environmental approaches

Hyun Ju Lee holds a glass of clean water at the Theological Consultation of EWN-WCC, Bossey, December 2014. © Helen Putsman/WCC

16 April 2015

Ms Hyun Ju Lee does not believe she is a “hard-working” student, but says she loves learning by interacting with other students from different churches and backgrounds, where she first observes differences then commonalities.

“I expect to be ordained in four years’ time when I have finished my studies at Busan Presbyterian University and I will take a lot from my privilege and experience of studying in Switzerland,” she says.

Ms Lee was born in Busan, a city in a metropolitan area lying in a number of narrow valleys between the Nakdong River and Suyeong River, which bear the population, of more than 4.5 million people, of the city.

“There are many commercial facilities, farmers and factories using all our water and it is very polluted.”

“Busan is a big city, but it lacks clean water resources. Although we get water from the river, people don’t drink it. So those who can afford it drink bottled water. Most houses have water purifiers or buy bulk water for drinking.”

Her family lives outside Busan now, but Ms Lee is deeply attached to her city and wants to use her connection to the Oikos Theology Movement to help lead towards a cleaner environment.

“I was inspired by this at the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches, which took place in Busan in 2013 and I want to introduce this kind of movement at home.”

She was a little uncomfortable at first when encountering all the different cultures and church backgrounds of the students at Bossey, but says she soon found these differences stimulating and exciting.

“I have so many questions now, questions that I could not have imagined before coming here and I want to relate them to our environment.”

A group of 17 people, most of them theologians, but also lawyers and an engineer met at the Ecumenical Institute, Bossey, Switzerland, in a theological consultation on water justice from 8-11 December 2014 to develop a theological framework for water justice. Along with students at Bossey, some of the group told Peter Kenny about the issue of water in the context of their regions, nations and local areas.