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Student of the Month: Eliana Ah Rum Ku

Ku Ah Rum (she/her)

I was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea. I came to Canada 2016 to pursue Th. M. in Vancouver. I am Ph.D. candidate in Homiletics at Emmanuel College in the University of Toronto.

What are your interests in your field of study/work?

My research is focused on lament in preaching to bridge suffering and hope. Due to a personal experience of poignant suffering that I faced in Korea, I started to struggle with how to preach hope amid suffering. I decided to study abroad because I expected to learn and experience broader views of dealing with suffering. I met the book of Lamentations when I took the Hebrew Bible class taught by Patricia Dutcher-Walls. I found women’s heartbreaking voice in the book. The voices deeply touched my wounds and trauma, and I cried a lot when I was reading and writing Lamentations in that semester. I felt that lament could be a way of proclaiming hope, without losing the reality of suffering. This task became my life-long calling and I expect I can contribute to sufferers including myself to be healed through practicing lament not only as an academic practice but also as an attitude of living. I am writing a couple of articles to apply lament study to Women’s missing voice in pulpits or Asian immigrant suffering narratives. Through the hermeneutics of lament in the Bible and life, I want to build up lament preaching in biblical, contextual, and theological ways.

Who has inspired you to want to do the work you want to do?

I was not alone in this long journey of theological study for over 14 years of study. Though many professors and friends have supported me and my family, my parents are the ones who have inspired me to do what I want. They’ve never stopped pray in the early morning for 10 years since I faced huge suffering which made me give up everything that I dreamed of. They continuously encouraged me to do what I want. They always said I am on your side. My lament works cannot be separated from my life especially my parents’ earnest and full-hearted lament for me to be healed.

Show on netflix you have binged recently or a quarantine hobby you have picked up?

My family’s the most favorite hobby is traveling. The pandemic has prevented us from doing what we enjoy the most. However, we have been enduring a quarantine life by playing board games or watching movies.

Netflix has been one of my partners to overcome depression during COVID-19. Recently, I watched a Korean Drama, Move to Heaven. It was a story of Han Geu-ru, who has Asperger's Syndrome, and his guardian, Sang-gu. They clean up the last place of the deceased and articles left by the deceased and delivering the stories of the deceased that couldn't tell the people they loved. They called this work a last moving of the deceased. Geu-ru and Sang-gu play a role in reconciliation and Hanpuri - to untie the hard mass of the heart that has long been entangled in sorrow- between the deceased and the people who were left behind, by listening to, retelling, and testifying about the unfinished stories of the deceased. This drama shows the power of not avoiding suffering and facing it and the power of speaking up and respecting it. Finally, the power shows the possibility of recovery and healing. Watching this drama, I once again thought about what sincere and authentic lament is and how powerful the lament is.

What brings you hope?

Recently, as a Korean, I felt very proud that BTS, a Korean pop artist group, has gained worldwide popularity and that the films Minari and Parasite were praised around the world. It is because these popular culture streams may show that the narrative of Asians is respectful and precious. Also, safe and supportive spaces, including PANAAWTM, where Asian’s own voices and story to be heard, have constantly been created and expanded. It definitely brings hope to me.

Social media handles? (Twitter/Instagram)

I don't do social media at all. Some people have advised me to use social media to promote myself, and some may look at me as foolish for not doing social media. However, not doing social media was one of the ways to protect me by getting out of my anxiousness which results from comparison with others, and by finding my own phase and pace.

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