Volume 17 Number2
Cracking Coconuts for God
01 April 2004

When Lee Jaeku was five he started training in Tae Kwon Do.

On a recent visit to Bangalore I met a South Korean martial arts teacher with an extraordinary story to tell. When Lee Jaeku was five he started training in Tae Kwon Do. Now over six feet tall, he towers above his students, who address him as Master Lee. His passion for Tae Kwon Do and his commitment to help young people has led him from South Korea to south India. He travels through the villages of Bangalore, gathering students.

Lee had been director of the World Tae Kwon Do Mission, a South Korean Christian organization that sends instructors to poor countries to teach the martial art and carry out missionary work. India had asked for a teacher. At first Lee was not interested but felt God calling him and, after a two-month struggle, packed his bags and went.

He travelled around demonstrating Tae Kwon Do by cracking coconuts with his bare hands. He was soon in great demand, teaching 2,000 students each day.

He became so poor that he would fall down from hunger. But his students began to bring him food. He says that he was never full but able to survive.

At night he prayed, ‘I want to go back to Korea.’ But he still felt that he was called to stay. Then an Arab family offered him good money to give private tuition to their children—on the condition that he would give up all his other classes. ‘For money, I should have joined them,’ he says, ‘but for God I could not.’ He continued his work for the next three years.

Lee’s experience of getting married is also quite remarkable. With no time to meet young women he began to pray that God would send him a wife who ‘loved God above all else’ and played the piano. Then he received a letter with the telephone number of a young woman who lived in Korea. He knew that she had been to India and had attended one of his classes. But he did not remember what she looked like.

She was Na-Soon Sook. Upon returning home to Korea she had felt that she should pray for Master Lee even though she did not know him. When she had seen him in India his hair was long, and he had only one set of filthy clothes that he had to wash and dry each night. She told God that she did not want to marry such a man.

After praying for Lee for one year she felt that she should spend one week in fasting and prayer. She decided if she was to marry him then he must call by the end of the week. At midnight on the seventh day a call came through from India.

When Lee heard Na-Soon Sook, he could not understand why she sounded so happy. Three times she said, ‘I want to see you.’ In 1998 he returned to Korea to meet Na- Soon for the first time and to marry her. Their wedding was paid for by his friends and of course there was a Tae Kwon Do demonstration. Then the couple returned to India with enough money to set up their own home and continue his ministry.

Master Lee teaches only Tae Kwon Do in his classes but some 200 hundred students come to his church on Sundays. When his students have problems at home he visits them and prays with their families. He can now provide them with some food and medical care. Today many friends support him in his work.

Master Lee claims that ‘without God I could not exist here’. He now has a gym and is aiming to train a world Tae Kwon Do champion. Of his students he says, ‘They don’t have money but now they have some faith, joy and confidence in their families, school and colleges. Not because of me but all through God.’

Master Lee and Na-Soon now have two sons, Lee Dae Ho, five, and Lee Myong Ho, four. Both are learning Tae Kwon Do.

Nigel Heywood is an Australian fine arts graduate now travelling in Asia with IC’s Action for Life training programme.