Translating the Book of Mormon into Korean was a 'choice blessing' for Elder Han In Sang

Published: Thursday, Feb. 23 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley (right) speaks to a congregation in Seoul, South Korea, in 2005. His translator is former member of the Seventy, Elder In Sang Han, Korea's first General Authority. Elder Han was instrumental in translating the Book of Mormon into the Korean language.

Greg Hill, Deseret News Archive

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Editor's note: This is one in a series on the Book of Mormon translations and translators.

When an LDS friend invited Han In Sang to mutual in 1956, the young In Sang didn’t know that within 10 years he would become instrumental in translating the Book of Mormon into Korean.

In an interview with the LDS Church News, Elder Sang, former member of the Seventy, recalled that at the church activity several decades ago, the members talked of life, happiness and eternal families.

“I hadn’t believed in any of these things,” said Elder Han, who lived through the harshness of the Korean War. “But after I learned about the gospel, my attitude changed. Even in the dark of night or on a stormy day, life is beautiful.”

He was baptized in 1957, attended college and served his mandatory military obligation. After his service, Elder Han said his one wish was “to get a good night’s sleep and serve a mission.”

The Korean Mission had been formed in July 1962 and Elder Han was the first native Korean missionary to serve in the Korean Mission from 1964-1966.

Besides proselytizing, he served in many positions, including presiding elder, branch president, seminary teacher and Korean language teacher for other missionaries. He fell ill with hepatitis and his mission president, Gail E. Carr, reassigned him to translate the Book of Mormon into Korean.

“I still remember the feeling I had at that time,” Elder Han said. “I was scared and lost, and deep in my heart I was trying to run away from the assignment knowing clearly that I could not. ... When I became sick, I had to get on my knees and depend on the Lord rather than my intellect. My sickness didn’t get worse, but it didn’t get better until the work was completed.”

Elder Han went on to say that although the work of translating the Book of Mormon into Korean was the most difficult task he’d ever done, it was also “a privilege and choice blessing.”

Since then, Elder Han served in many callings, including president of the Seoul West District, president of the Korea Pusan Mission and regional representative. He was the first Korean general authority, called to the second Quorum of the Seventy on June 1, 1991, and sustained on Oct. 5. 1991.

He was honorably released in 1996 and served as president of the Seoul Korea Temple from 1996-2000 with his wife, Kyu In Lee. They have five children.

The Korean edition of the Book of Mormon was first published in 1967. It was revised in 2005.

calexander@desnews.com

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