CCU's Dr. Kim Speaks at California State University on Religion and Politics in North Korea

Colorado Christian University Associate Professor of New Testament Dr. Johann Kim headlined last week at "Eyes on North Korea: Religion and Politics of Kim Jong-il's Regime." The May 4, 2007, conference was held at California State University-Northridge and sponsored by the university's Religious Studies Department.

In his presentation, Dr. Kim argued that Juche (pronounced "joo-cheh")--the official state ideology of North Korea and the basis of the nation's political system--has not only created an absolute (and often unethical) dictatorship, but also moved far beyond political ideology. Adopted in 1972 to replace North Korea's then Marxist-Leninist system, many believe that Juche has led North Korea to become a religious cult-like nation over the years. Dr. Kim's argument poses that presiding party leader Kim Jong-il's authority over the nation and government is even godlike in scope, with the devout if not pious submission by the general populace only serving to beg the question of religious undertone.

"Through my work, I hope to broaden the understanding of North Korean political ideology as more than simply communism," Dr. Kim stated. "North Korea-U.S. relations are of critical importance, especially in light of the nuclear threat and proven unpredictable behavior displayed by North Korea. But meaningful dialogue with this reclusive nation first requires a deeper understanding of its political structures and their implications."

"I applaud Dr. Kim for directing his research toward pressing contemporary issues," commented CCU School of Theology Dean Dr. Jeffrey Mallinson. "He is a fine example of our faculty's concern to engage practical matters with thoughtfulness and theoretical dexterity."

Before joining the CCU faculty in 2005, Kim taught at Sterling College in Kansas, Bethesda University in California, and was a teaching fellow for Yale University's Department of East Asian Languages and Culture. He has published two books and has had articles featured by the Society of Biblical Literature and several scholarly journals. He has also presented at conferences at the University of Cambridge in England, the University of Colorado, and the University of California.

Fluent in six languages, Dr. Kim earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of California-Los Angeles (1987) and a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary (1991). In 1993 he earned a Master of Sacred Theology in New Testament from Yale Divinity School. And then in 1999, he completed a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Union Theological Seminary in Virginia.