Interview | Deborah Jungmi Kang, Presidential Scholarship Recipient
Deborah Jungmi Kang is a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship for the 2023-2024 academic year. Deborah will study in the department of Religion and Practice. She holds a D.Min. in Preaching, M.T.S., and M.Div. from The Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary; M.Th. from Yonsei University Graduate School; and B.Th. from Hyupsung University.
GTU: What were the formative influences in your life—people, places, experiences—that led you to where you are today
Deborah Jungmi Kang: My mother, Gabsun Yu, stands as the wellspring of my being, infusing me with resilience to overcome all limitations. She has attained certifications in the culinary arts of Korea, China, and Japan, mastered the delicate arts of floral and balloon craftsmanship, and excelled as a professional caregiver for the elderly and disabled. Her commitment to perpetual learning becomes a beacon that lights the paths of those around her, just as my academic journey continues to unfold.
GTU: How would you describe your academic interests?
DJK: My academic journey culminated in the publication of my thesis, titled “A Korean Woman’s Voice to Preach as a Transformed Shaman through Perichoresis-Kut,” as part of my Doctor of Ministry in Preaching degree. Through this achievement, my internal conviction transitions into tangible activism against the dehumanizing practices of objectification, invisibility, and discrimination. My academic goal is to connect such an ethical and missional praxis with the concept of liturgical inculturation by exploring the mystical realms of divinity, Korean shamanism, and societal transformation. This expedition is deeply personal, as I identify myself as a Korean woman and a pastor, while also carrying the legacy of my great-grandmother, who was a shaman in North Korea.
GTU: What drew you to attend GTU for your Doctoral studies?
DJK: The attraction of GTU resides in its diverse academic environment with its centers, institutes, and programs. I am especially intrigued by the opportunity to explore multi-religious academia and cultural diversity. With more than 700 courses available annually across the consortium, I am thrilled to have an extensive array of scholastic options. This aligns well with my interests and approaches that blend worship, spirituality, and social change.
GTU: What are you most looking forward to in your Doctoral studies at the GTU?
DJK: During my doctoral studies, I’m most excited about the prospect of collaborating with Professor Ruth Meyers and delving into her research on missional worship as a response to hegemony and injustice. Furthermore, I’m eager to immerse myself in the scholarly endeavors of Professor Jennifer W. Davidson, who has adeptly crafted a constructive liturgical theology within the dynamic framework of contemporary settings and relevant social issues. I anticipate the wealth of opportunities that the Religion and Practice Department offers, encompassing a diverse array of interdisciplinary studies and research programs. In this collaborative environment at GTU, my overarching objective is to contribute significantly to a broader spectrum of cultural, ecclesial, and global communities.