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Spreading kindness from South Korea


When Fr Paul Kim arrived in Adelaide on January 25 he was pleasantly surprised by the diversity of culture.

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“The diverse languages spoken, the diversity of people and the cooperation between them,” Fr Kim told The Southern Cross, with the assistance of an interpreter.

It is Fr Kim’s first time in Australia, and he looks forward to his role as chaplain to Adelaide’s Korean community. He will call Adelaide home for approximately four years and hopes his family will one day make the 8100-plus kilometre journey to visit.

Fr Kim (pictured) comes from the Diocese of Incheon, South Korea, in the city in which he was born.

“I went to Catholic church since I was a baby,” he said. “I was a very active member of the Sunday School.”

When he was young, his parents moved their young family to South Korea’s bustling capital of Seoul, before moving back to Incheon when Fr Kim was in Year 7. Then came a dilemma of sorts. Fr Kim hit puberty and didn’t go to church from Year 7 to Year 10. During this time, I didn’t speak to anyone,” he said. “I had the realisation that the inside of people and the outside of people was so different.”

Put simply, he couldn’t trust humankind for what they were at face value.

During puberty Fr Kim also became aware of many social issues around him. “I thought, ‘If there is a God, how can society be like this?”

An encounter with a basketball court and the people on it opened his eyes to the potential for good in people’s hearts.

“After Year 10 I started to play basketball, made friends with the players and started interacting with them,” he said.

“I realised that even though people are different on the outside and inside, there were good people around me. Through these people, I realised there is God and that led me to priesthood.”

Fr Kim was ordained a priest on July 3 2009.

“The sentence I chose for my ordination is, ‘Remember Jesus Christ’. That is the motto for my life.”

Fr Kim went on to serve as assistant priest of Yonghyendong Catholic Church and of Seonhakdong Catholic Church, and was appointed parish priest of Bulrodong Catholic Church, followed by assistant chaplain for pastoral care in the Diocese of Incheon, and parish priest of Songrim4dong Catholic Church.

Now, at 42 years of age, a new adventure has begun.

“I didn’t know I was coming to Adelaide until the Bishop back in Inchon appointed me to Adelaide Archdiocese,” he said. “I don’t have a detailed plan, but I am open to be living a happy life here.”

Despite having been in Adelaide for little more than a month, Fr Kim is making his mark on the local community.

“I am happiest when people appreciate the small things,” he said.

Fr Kim is also thrilled to observe an active Korean contingent.

“The Catholic church in Korea had many people attending who were aged around the 70s and 80s,” he said.

“I was surprised by the fact that here, there are many babies and young people within the community.”

The young generation indicates a promising future. In saying that, Fr Kim is particularly dedicated to the elderly.

“I have a great interest in the older generation because so many people in my previous church community were elderly,” he said.

“Before that, I worked in a hospital as a priest for religious people staying in hospital. As a result, I also care a lot about helping the sick and injured.”

Fr Kim looks forward to meeting as many locals as possible. In the meantime, he wanted to leave the readers of The Southern Cross with a simple message. “To convey kindness to the people in their lives.”

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