As a devout and open-minded Christian who seeks deeper understanding of Islam, her action is sometimes branded as “dovish” by hawkish Christians.
Muslims don’t always find her stance convincing and trustworthy either, given centuries of hostility between the two religious groups.
But her mission is clear ― to bring the two religions closer together through mutual understanding and respect in this borderless and globalized world.
“We can’t approach religion with an old mindset in this globalized world, and try to resolve religious issues,” Kim, 49, said in an interview.
“We should strive to learn about each other’s history and religion for peaceful coexistence.”
Days are gone when the world divided its territories according to religious faith.
And modern Christians should stop holding signs on the streets opposing issues concerning Islam, such as “sukuk” Islamic financing, which allows capital raising without interest.
Let the civic groups, economists or policymakers approach and examine those issues and policies, Kim said. Let religious leaders follow the advice of Swiss Catholic priest and theologian Hans Kung, who said: “No peace among the nations without peace among the religions. No peace among the religions without dialogue between the religions.”
Kim began her study of Islam when she was at Ewha Womans University’s Graduate School of Christian Studies.
Her professor then was Chun Chae-ok, who was Korea’s first female Christian missionary dispatched to an Islamic country in 1961. Chun also founded the Center for Islamic Studies with Kim in 1992. The center has become part of Torch Trinity Graduate University, a theological seminary in Seoul.
During her master’s in Korea and Ph.D. in Islamic Studies at the Fuller Theological Seminary in the U.S., Kim developed her understanding of Islam, and learnt that the two religions, albeit different, shared a lot of similarities.