Former Korean marine, Kevin Bae finishes school search by coming to Moody

by Andrea Stimmel, staff writer

“I didn’t study in school. I hung out with students who were bad. I was rebellious,” said Kevin Bae, senior biblical languages student from Taegu, South Korea. He said the first memorable moments in his education were marked by disobedience and independence, despite his upbringing in a Christian family and the guilt he felt for it.

After high school, all Korean men are required to spend time in the military. Instead of going into the army, Bae applied and was accepted into the marines. He spent two years in the marines and was in an airborne battalion that parachuted from planes. His specific job was to calculate the range and angles of the 60-millimeter mortars as they were fired.

The most challenging part of Bae’s military experience was during one of the training sessions, which ranged from one day to three weeks long, when he carried a 40-pound mortar on his 40-pound backpack for the duration of each training session. “It was really hard training with 80 pounds on my back,” Bae said. “I don’t know what happened, but sometimes I caught myself singing hymns in my head.” Although Bae could not sing aloud, remembering the words was an encouragement to him.

Once out of the military, Bae went to a university in Korea and studied English Literature. “I studied really hard in college and was a good student academically. My behavior was still bad, though,” he said.

Bae’s sister was a missionary and encouraged him to go on a mission trip to New Zealand. The agency he went with was unique and encouraged the participants to read the Bible all day, but he did not. Bae spent three months exploring and smoking. Upon returning to Korea, he continued his schooling.

Bae said, “I studied really hard and still felt empty. I drank alcohol and still felt empty. I always felt regret after drinking and smoking. I couldn’t fill that emptiness with studying, hard work or people.” This time in his life was a transition for Bae as he felt the need for God.

He met his future wife, Lisa, when they were students at Word of Life Korea. This camp gave students the opportunity to learn English while studying the Bible. During the summer of 2007, their friendship started when they were both camp counselors for younger students.

Bae then went to Word of Life Bible Institute in Florida for the fall semester in 2007. Lisa came in January of 2008 without realizing Bae was at the same school. She had been planning on going to the campus in New York, but changed her mind and went to Florida. Bae then transferred to the New York campus of Word of Life in the fall of 2008. Lisa unknowingly followed him to New York in January 2009, since that was where she originally wanted to go. Once they landed in the same city, they started dating and were married in May of 2010.

The Baes then decided to transfer to Moody, where Kevin is furthering his study of Biblical Languages. Kevin will graduate in May; they are planning to stay in Chicago until Lisa, junior TESOL major, graduates.

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