Korean pastor and choir to visit Biola

The Rev. Billy Kim will speak at chapel on Friday with the Far East Broadcasting Company Korean Children’s Choir performing.

Sarah Seman and Sarah Seman

The Rev. Billy Kim, a renowned Korean pastor emeritus and the chairman of the Far East Broadcasting Company, is visiting the campus this weekend as Biola continues to foster its international ties to Asia.

Kim will speak in chapel Friday, April 20 followed by music from the Far East Broadcasting Company Korean Children’s Choir, according to Beth Chapman, coordinator of presidential donor relations and endowed scholarships. The choir is currently on their annual tour, according to Chapman, and will also make stops in Kentucky, Virginia and Michigan.

Kim expanded his church from 10 members to 15,000 in his 45 years of pastoral leadership, according to an April 29 Biola news article. Biola president Barry Corey and Kim have been friends for several years, according to Chapman. Corey conferred an honorary degree to Kim at Biola’s spring 2010 commencement, proclaiming Kim to be a “dedicated follower of Christ, Christian brother, international leader and friend of Biola University.”

These two individuals “have wanted to encourage partnership between Biola and the local and international Korean community,” Chapman said.

After Friday’s chapel the local Korean community will have a chance to engage with each other and Biola through a luncheon in the Talbot East Andrews Banquet Room. All Korean faculty members, several students and members of the greater community, via a partnership between the Far East Broadcasting Company and local Korean churches, are invited. Both Kim and the choir will participate in the program, according to Chapman.

Asian student enrollment increases

The Asian undergraduate and graduate student population at Biola climbed from 11 percent in 2000 to 19.2 percent in 2011 according to the “Fall 2011 Admissions Report.” This influx echoes the national Asian-American population, which has increased by 43 percent in the past 10 years, tying with the Hispanic population as the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States, according to a March 2012 report by the U.S. Census Bureau. The study, “The Asian Population: 2010,” encompassed self-identified “Asian alone” as well as “Asian in combination” individuals.

Korean-born student Ye-Eun Lee, a freshman biology major, heard of the university from her principal, a pastor who would frequent the Biola Library while living in California.

Twenty-seven percent of the Talbot students are either Asian or Pacific-Islander, according to the “Biola University Fall 2011 Admissions Report.”

“I wanted to come to America to study because in Asia, what I usually did was just memorizing,” Lee said. The variety of teaching methodology in America has given Lee new types of learning experiences, like dissecting earthworms, grasshopper and sea stars.

Ninety percent of foreign recruiters sent from Biola head to the Pacific Rim, according to Greg Vaughan, vice president of administrative enrollment management. Biola is continually becoming more active in cross-cultural engagement, he said. 

“America is very individualistic, but it also likes to be together,” Lee said. “Ever since I came here, I frequently hear about unity. In Korean families we really like to unite, so I think that is one of the similarities [between the Asian and American cultures].”

Choir to perform throughout California before BIola

Recruiters to foreign countries are most often sent to China, Vaughan said. Chinese-Americans are the largest group researched by the U.S. Census Bureau, with 3.3 million people reporting to be solely Chinese and 1 million identifying themselves as part Chinese.

Junior business management major Zhangbin Shan is a China native who moved to Hungary with his parents prior to coming to Biola. He has adopted the western name Robin.

“I feel like American culture is more welcoming than European culture,” Shan said. “America is based on all the immigrants from all different countries so I think that’s one of the reasons people are, in general, more welcoming.”

Kim and the choir will make appearances in Los Angeles before their stop at Biola, according to Chapman. On Wednesday they will be at Bethel Korean Church and on Thursday the choir will perform at the Carnation Plaza Gardens at Disneyland Park before stopping at Biola Friday.

“This is definitely the beginning of a future of other events that [Kim] will be a part of, this isn’t just a one time thing,” Chapman said. “I think the university sees this as an important relationship to continue.”

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