Around 2,300 South Korean Christians disregarded warnings from their government not to travel to the nation of Israel for security reasons and marched from Jerusalem to Bethlehem on Monday to convey a message of peace to Israelis and Palestinians.
The South Korean government had repeatedly urged the pilgrims not to go to Israel for fear of political repercussions by Islamic terrorists. South Korean Christian Kim Sun-il was kidnapped and beheaded by Iraqi insurgents in July and South Korean troops are still stationed in Iraq.
Nonetheless, Israeli officials encouraged the visitors to come and promised to provide for their security. The Ministry of Tourism helped organize the march, while working closely with the IACD. In addition to visiting holy sites in Jerusalem, the pilgrims also brought medicine to Palestinians and publicly prayed for peace with them.
Singing such Christian songs as "Jesus Loves Me, This I Know" in Korean, the throngs of South Korean Christians -- young and old -- walked through the streets of the Jerusalem suburb of Gilo on Monday and crossed over "Checkpoint 300" into the Palestinian area of Bethlehem on what they called the "March for Peace."
Lina Liw, a student at Handong Global University in Pohang, South Korea, said as a Christian, it is important to fulfill requirements outlined in the Bible. "In the Bible God said to us, 'I will give you the land under your feet,'" Liw said. "We believe we want to march on the land. "We want the recovery of peace between Israelis and Palestinians."