Geography Colloquium, UBC on Nov 9

I’m giving a colloquium talk in the geography department at UBC on Tuesday, November 9. Unlike the North Korea-focused talks I’ve been giving lately, this one is about the Korean missionaries who were taken hostage in Afghanistan in 2007. I must have been preoccupied with the idea of “intention” when I wrote the abstracts for these talks — they’re all titled “beyond good intentions,” when in fact, they should just be called “beyond intentions.” 😉


The Hankyoreh editorial cartoon, August 30, 2007. Hostages, troops, and missionaries leave Afghanistan, with two dead.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010, 12:30pm

Beyond Good Intentions: Geopolitics and Korean evangelical missions in Afghanistan
Department of Geography, University of British Columbia
Geography Room 212

A group of twenty-three South Korean evangelicals made worldwide headlines in 2007 when they were taken hostage by the Taliban for nearly six weeks in Afghanistan. Two men were killed, and the rest were eventually released—after the South Korean government pledged to withdraw its troops and ban any further proselytizing activities by Korean evangelicals in Afghanistan. While critics pointed to the hostage situation as indicative of misguided missionary zeal and recklessness, mission advocates insisted that the hostages should be described instead as “church volunteers” or “humanitarian aid workers,” and that similar relief missions be allowed to continue. Drawing from ethnographic research and interviews, I will discuss how Korean/American missionaries contend with demands for internationalism and tolerance in “Islam missions” and “frontier missions” in the context of war and neocolonialism.