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The Challenge of Korea

The Challenge of Korea

by Sok Hon Ham at Pendle Hill December 10, 1962

I am a man of failure, a loser in everything.

I am a defeated one, a victim always.

A war captive here in America,

An exile from home.

A sinner and cursed am I.

I break all laws, material as well as moral.

I revolt against all systems, secular as well as holy.

I will tell you a story,

A story of the Suffering Queen.

Hear, O Citizen of the Coming World,

The elite of the World Revolution.

"I am very dark, but comely, O daughters of Jerusalem,

Like the tents of Kedar.

Like the curtains of Solomon.

Do not gaze at me because I am swarthy,

Because the sun has scorched me,

My mother's sons were angry with me,

They made me keeper of the vineyards;

But, my own vineyard I have not kept."

(Song of Songs 1:5-6)

You called me Korea, but that is not my choice.

All names are false, so even is this.

My name is Han, The Great, The One;

I received from Heaven, Heaven is my home and Lord.

Chosen also I am called, which means Morning Calm.

Some one called me contemptuously "The Hermit,"

But I call myself boastingly The Queen of Suffering.

I was born in the early dawn of history,

With the first crowing of the cock.

Bathed in the transparent waves of the Eastern Sea,

Clothed with white silk of the Western Mulberry Land,

The North wind crowned my head with silver,

The South islands embroidered my feet with pearls.

Beautiful was my body,

Smiles were ever in my eyes, songs were ever on my lips.

Wise was my mind,

I knew the truth, the mystery of immorality,

Good was my heart,

I loved every man and everything, and did no harm.

It was told that I was betrothed to the Heavenly Lord

before I was born.

I knew Him not, I never saw Him, but I loved Him.

It was my task to grow flowers,

And keep and tend the beautiful garden,

And light it with an ever burning lamp

Till the night when He comes like a thief.

Among all things the most famous were the twelve thousand diamond chairs,

On which the guests from all parts of the world were to come and sit.

I am not permitted to reason why,

But from the first my fate was to be a Cinderella.

How long it was, the tedious winter night?

While I was waiting in the dark corner of the dressing room,

Many nations came and went without heeding me;

They trampled me under their feet, and pushed me aside.

Trembling and dozing I sat and waited,

Without muttering a word, Him I only believed.

At last the call came to enter the stage,

But it was not with glory, but with shame and rage.

"Upon my bed by night

I sought Him whom my soul loves;

I sought Him, but found Him Not;

I called him, but He gave no answer.

I will rise now and go about the City

In the streets and in the squares;

I will seek Him whom my soul loves.

I sought Him, but found Him not.

The watchmen found me,

As they went about in the city.

Have you seen whom my soul loves?

Scarcely had I passed them,

When I found him whom my soul loves.

I held him, and would not let Him go

Until I had brought Him into my mother's house,

And into the chamber of her that conceived me."

(Song of Songs 3:1-4)

"Behold, you are beautiful, my love,

Behold, you are beautiful!

Your eyes are doves

Behind your veil.

Your hair is like a flock of goats,

Moving down the slopes of Gilead.

Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes

That have come up from the washing,

All of which bear twins,

And not one among them is bereaved.

Your lips are like a scarlet thread,

And your mouth is lovely.

Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate

Behind your veil.

Your neck is like the tower of David

Built for an arsenal,

Whereon hang a thousand bucklers,

All of them shields of warriors.

Your two breasts are like two fawns,

Twins of a gazelle,

That feed among the lilies.

Until the day breathes

And the shadows flee,

I will hie me to the mountain of myrrh

And the hill of frankincense."

(Song of Songs 4:1-6)

It was China, the son of the great land lord,

Who first deceived me and robbed my dowry,

He was very wealthy and eloquent, but was greedy;

With his vain words he took away all my treasures.

Then next came the wild hunter, the Mongol,

He searched my breast and did me all kinds of shame.

Then next Manchuria, the half nomad came,

And raked through and sacked the land.

At last the narrow minded Japan came,

Who was my cousin and whom I taught:

I taught her writing and reading,

And Confucianism, Buddhism, and also fine arts.

But now she borrowed from the Westerners some new weapons,

And conquered me, returning good with evil.

Misery is my fortune;

Lament is my day;

My face is bruised;

My garment is torn;

Empty is my basket of flowers,

More empty is my heart.

Dust rises on the road and evening comes,

But still He does not come.

Upon my knees I was praying,

When suddenly heard the sound "the bridegroom comes!"

Springing to my feet I hurried to meet Him,

But alas, it was only a dream.

The old enemies are jealous of my glory

And gathered together they knocked me down.

Then they held a conference.

They condemned me to death.

Red China held my right arm,

Russia held my left arm,

And America was holding my two legs,

They crucified me on the cross,

A cross, not of wood,

But of mountains and rivers.

I am now nailed on high on Chang Baik Mountains,

Just like Prometheus was bound with chain.

Thirty-eight vultures devour my heart day and night,

My secret place is laid bare before all savage eyes.

Ah me, pain, pain, everlasting pain!

My God my God, why forsakest thou me?

No, is there any God?

Someone has said that God is dead!

But, just like Jesus two thousand years ago,

On my cross, I will tell you

You don't know what you are doing,

You Americans, You Russians, You Chinese and you Hindus.

Just like on that day,

Now two sinners are crucified on either side of me.

If you believe in me you will be with me in Paradise,

I am the judge of the world.

Just like he said, I tell you

This is your mother from this day,

My nation is not my nation but yours.

Mother, he is your son from this day.

My history is not my history but yours.

Judging me, you are judged,

You Nationalist, You Communist, You Fascist.

Killing me, you are killed,

You politicians, you soldiers, you economists.

Where is freedom?

To invade another's home is freedom?

Where is justice?

To cut a living body in into two pieces is justice?

I accuse you, all Religions,

Christianity, Buddhism, Mohammedanism, Hinduism, Taoism.

What is the use of you all,

While you are standing beside and looking on my death?

I accuse you, all humanitarians,

Where is your reason?

Where is your emotion?

Where is your conscience?

While you are covering your eyes purposely before the bleeding fact?

You blame me because of my sin?

Yes, I am a sinner. I am an animal.

But if I am an animal

Is it not in order to bear your sin on my back?

I am a scapegoat bleating in the wilderness,

To carry all your sin away entirely.

I am sewage filled with every kind of dirtiness,

To make your room clean.

I am a dust bin packed with all garbage,

To make you healthy, in body and mind.

I am a prostitute, filthy, nasty, abominable,

To satisfy and bury eternally all your beastly passions.

Become you a civilized man,

I will be a savage.

Be you noble, elegant, and holy,

I will gladly be an ignorant, a beggar, a fool.

Don't scorn me, don't blame me,

Don't weep for me, but for you and your children.

I have become an altar of history,

All nations burnt their dedicated sacrifices on my breast,

I have become a cemetery of the human race,

All races buried their loved generations in my heart.

All Kingdoms and Commonwealths are One in me.

I am Han, the One, the Great Kingdom.

I will forgive you all,

Lay all your sin and burden on me and curse me.

Then let me hear the old song,

"Surely he has born our griefs

And carried our sorrows;

Yet we esteemed him stricken,

Smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions,

He was bruised for our iniquities;

Upon him was the chastisement that made us whole,

And with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

We have turned everyone to his own way;

And the Lord has laid on him

The iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,

Yet he opened not his mouth;

Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,

And like a sheep that before its shearers dumb,

So he opened not his mouth."

(Isaiah 53:4-7)

Don’t believe in a dead Jesus or legendary Krishna,

But in a living bleeding historical Messiah.

I am the Messiah, the Suffering man,

Who bears and atones for the Sin of the world.

Rend my side with your spear,

Water and blood will flow from it.

I will die in agony;

But you live in joy.

God has forsaken me,

I will forsake the dead God.

But I will rise again,

I am the life, I am the Resurrection.

I will die to this old sinful life,

And regain my eternal virginity.

I am dying with the dying year

Ring the Emilleh*, let me die;

I am coming with the coming year,

Ring the Emilleh and let me be.

Pendle Hill 1962.12.10
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