SBTS student first Korean soldier to die in overseas conflict since Vietnam

Communications Staff — April 3, 2007

Sgt. Yoon Jang-ho, a former student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, became the first Korean soldier since the Vietnam War to die in a foreign conflict when he was killed in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb Feb. 27.

Yoon, 27, attended Southern for one semester in 2004 before returning to his native country to enter the military out of a sense of national duty. Yoon’s death occurred just two months before his tour in Afghanistan was scheduled to end.

“He didn’t have to go into military service, but he just felt by himself that it was kind of a national duty,” said Barnabas Kim, a friend of Yoon’s at Southern and master of divinity student from Korea. “So he joined the military in 2005.”

Yoon planned to return to Southern in the fall and study to become a youth minister, Kim said.

“He was very quiet, and he was very artistic,” he said. “He liked drawing and playing music. He was a very faithful guy as well.”

A member of the Korean Army’s Dasan Engineering Unit, Yoon volunteered to serve in Afghanistan though he had opportunities to be deployed elsewhere.

Yoon has been mourned by thousands in Korea, according to Don-A Ilbo, a Korean news organization.

His March 5 funeral in Korea was attended by several Korean government officials including the senior presidential secretary for security policy, the defense minister and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Yoon was buried in the National Memorial Cemetery in Daejeon.

Yoon’s parents, Yoon Hee-cheol and Lee Chang-hee, are strong Christians and trust in God despite their son’s death, Kim said.

“Yesterday I called his parents,” he said. “His father and mother are very good believers. One great thing is that they said they still absolutely believe in the sovereignty of God. They think things are in God’s control, and they believe there is some reason God has allowed this thing to happen.”

In ministry Yoon had a passion to develop international churches where people of many nationalities could come and worship together, Kim said.

“He had a vision for an internationalized church, not just one language or denomination,” he said.

Korean students at Southern are sending notes of encouragement to Yoon’s family in Korea and request continuing prayer for the Yoon family.

“He was the youngest guy in our group of Korean students, and many students considered him a younger brother,” Kim said. “So he had a really good time here.”

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