First Time Out of the Country for Our Youth President – James Carver in Korea

07 December 2022

james-carver-korea-3-1222Each year, the Methodist Youth President undertakes an overseas visit in partnership with the Global Relationships team.  In October 2022, James Carver undertook his visit to South Korea.

Organised by a collaboration between the Korean Methodist Church and Kwanglim Methodist Church, I visited Seoul on my first-ever trip outside the United Kingdom. The trip was an opportunity for me to learn about Methodism and culture in another context. I learned a lot about Korean heritage, partook in worship in one of Korea’s biggest Methodist Churches, and visited the demilitarized zone; an area between the borders of North and South Korea designed to work towards peace and reunification.

I learned a lot about Korean practices whilst on the visit such as that it is customary to bow when greeting a person, to exchange gifts with the host, and it is traditional for the most senior person at the table to start to eat first.

Whilst there, I visited Visionland, a facility operated by Kwanglim Methodist Church and used to guide young people on their faith journey and understand their calling. Visionland was an amazing place. Similar to Cliff College, the area was situated out in nature and housed various chapels, an amphitheatre, and a statue of John Wesley on his horse.

As part of the visit, I also tried lots of different meals. Eating in Korea is an amazing experience. There were tables with stoves built in and upon those went the food which was cooked in front of you. There was a vast array of side-dishes on our table; unlike in the UK where we have one or two side-dishes, in Korea you can have up to 40. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the hang of chopsticks but our hosts were very kind and found alternative cutlery for me.

james-carver-korea-2-1222Something that amazed me was the deep respect for Methodist history the Korean Methodist Church has. Almost all of the Kwanglim churches had exhibitions and the main church, which has a strong relationship with Wesley’s Chapel in London, had artefacts such as a copy of the death mask of John Wesley.

During my visit, a tragedy took place involving young people attending a Halloween Party in Seoul. It felt odd being away from home and responding to the situation here. Although the tragedy was not close to where I was staying, as a guest in their country and representing the Methodist Church of Britain, following advice, I shared a prayer and my thoughts on social media for those who had been involved and their loved ones.

One important aspect of the visit was the trip to the demilitarised zone; and you can read my blog for the Methodist Peace Forum that details this aspect of the visit here. However, seeing the demilitarized zone and hearing of the work happening between North and South Korea towards peace is both encouraging and reassuring.

After my ten days in Korea, I returned to Britain. Visiting South Korea was an amazing experience which I will remember for the rest of my life. I especially enjoyed visiting various churches, including one with a 24/7 prayer room and 5am services, and was in awe of the work of the early Methodist missionaries from America and the Methodist presence now. I was also impressed by the merger of urban landscapes and the natural environment.

The connexion between the Methodist Church in Britain and its global partners is incredibly special and eye-opening, I encourage anyone thinking of learning more to explore the options available via the Connexional Team. I have a visit planned to the Irish Methodist Conference in the Summer and I cannot wait.


You can find out more about James’ visit on the Youth President social media channels at: