Under Construction, a Christian a cappella group has been singing at Harvard for 27 years with the goal of sharing hope by holding annual concerts, performing at student events, and at churches. The group also travels to areas such as Boston, Chicago, Bejing and Barbados Islands during spring breaks to share hope on a global scale. The group’s name describes how they are always “under construction” by God’s grace no matter how great achievements they may go through in life.
This spring, Korea seemed to call them to bring a message of hope for the downtrodden, a prayer for peace amidst tension, and a song of joy to all those who needed love. Especially after the former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s death, and listening to news about ruthless policies, and threats that North Koreans face, Under Construction explained that they could not help but bring themselves to Korea.
The trip cost 24,000 dollar, and the members had to pay for everything out of their own pockets. They sent out support letters to the community to join in their cause and performed fundraising gigs.
“We thought the tour would definitely be worth the cost if we can touch at least one heart with God’s love,” said Hwang Ji-yae (Harvard University, 4), the business manager of Under Construction.
The group participated in the prayer meeting for Korean unification held at Seoul Station and visited Yeol-bang-saem church, where half of it’s members are North Korean refugees, as well as Yanghwajin, a cemetery for foreign missionaries.
“Seeing the heart-wrenching footage of women beaten by a North Korean interrogator at the prayer meeting, I came to feel the gravity of the North Korean plight. If I, who does not claim Korean heritage at all, could hurt so much for these people, I can not imagine how much more must their family and God hurt,” Charlene Hong (Harvard University, 2) said.
The group had a chance to visit the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). Greeted by armed soldiers of the 5th Infantry Division, the group sang and prayed at Baekma Goji, where 15,000 soldiers died during the Korean War.
“The second after our performance was over, the soldiers got into a marching formation,” Kent Toland (Harvard University, 2) said, recalling the scene. “I was blown away by seeing this and, once again, by noticing they were all our age. They were putting their lives on the line to defend South Korea and people while I travel and enjoy a college experience.”
The group’s soulful singing may have reached the North Korean land, facing it only a couple kilometers away.
“North Korea looked so beautiful and peaceful unlike the picture of tyranny and military tension that the media paints in our minds,” Joy Choi (Harvard University, 4) said. “Then, I asked myself, ‘what if I was born on the other side of the line?’ Singing and praying at the border taught me to realize my blessings and continuously pray for my Korean brethren who have yet to enjoy freedom and peace as I do.”