“Seoul Temple Dedicated,” Ensign, Feb. 1986, 74–75
Recognition of the role of temples in salvation for both the living and the dead was part of the dedicatory prayer for the Seoul Korea Temple, read December 14 at the first of six dedicatory services scheduled over two days.
The prayer was read by President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency. Acting under the direction of President Ezra Taft Benson, he led the party of General Authorities who attended, and conducted the first dedicatory service.
The dedicatory prayer expressed gratitude for establishment and growth of the Church in Korea and for the temple and the blessings it will bring.
“May understanding of thy divine purposes grow in the minds of all who are here instructed. May the covenants they make with thee be engraven upon their hearts and the light of eternal truth be reflected from their countenances,” President Hinckley read.
“Dear Father, bless this land and its people. May this nation remain free from bondage and servitude. Free the faithful Saints from oppression and poverty. Bless them for their industry,” the prayer petitioned.
The dedicatory prayer asked for blessings upon the Church’s missionaries and those who might hear them.
“Wilt thou smile upon the people of other nations of Asia. May they open their doors to thy servants as has this nation of the Republic of Korea, that their people may also receive and be blessed by the truths of the everlasting gospel.”
President Hinckley also expressed gratitude for a living prophet, so recently called to lead the Church.
“We have seen in recent days, with the passing of a great and good leader, the calling of another who has been prepared over a period of many years for the heavy responsibility that has fallen upon him. We have seen the quiet and wonderful transition of authority from one leader to another. We thank thee for thy servant, President Benson, and invoke thy blessings upon him that he may find favor in thy sight, that he may have strength and vitality to advance thy work, and that he may be loved and honored by thy people throughout the earth.”
In remarks before the dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley reminded those present that the Seoul Korea Temple is the only building on all the vast mainland of Asia where work can be done which will endure not only in this life, “but in eternity as well.”
During the cornerstone-laying ceremony which preceded the dedicatory services, President Howard W. Hunter, Acting President of the Council of the Twelve, called it a privilege to be present at the “last act of construction” for the temple, and commented, “This is a day when dreams are coming true.” Elder Jacob de Jager of the First Quorum of the Seventy, a counselor in the Presidency of the Church’s Asia Area, exhorted the Saints: “Come back often. It will be a spiritual experience every time you come. It will truly enrich your life and strengthen you.” The Spirit of the Lord was felt so intensely during the cornerstone-laying that the Korean translators could barely speak at times.
In addition to President Hinckley, speakers at the first dedicatory session were President Hunter and Elder de Jager. Other General Authorities attending the dedicatory services included Elder William R. Bradford of the First Quorum of the Seventy, President of the Asia Area; Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi of the First Quorum of the Seventy; and Elder Keith W. Wilcox of the First Quorum of the Seventy, also a counselor to Elder Bradford.
Also in attendance were David M. Kennedy, special representative of the First Presidency; a number of men who had formerly served as mission presidents in Korea (including temple president Robert Slover), and priesthood leaders from throughout the country.
A total of 5,500 Saints attended the five dedicatory services for Korean members and one for English-speaking Saints—United States military personnel and other members living in Korea. The temple will serve more than 41,000 Saints.
The interior of the 12,000-square-foot temple is decorated with delicate Korean brush paintings and screens of traditional design, as well as Korean white lacquer furniture with mother-of-pearl inlay. Its Korean granite exterior and traditional tile “100-year roof” give the architecture of the temple a Korean flavor. The grounds are so meticulously landscaped that the building seems to be nestled in a natural garden. Six shining white pillars circle the building; the pillar in front is topped by a statue of the angel Moroni.
Despite the urban location of the temple, not far from downtown Seoul, those who visit the grounds enjoy a marked feeling of peace and serenity recognized by members of the Church as the influence of the Spirit of the Lord.
Several of the dignitaries invited to a special tour November 25, before the public open house, commented on the feeling of peace they experienced there. Among the sixty-nine government and business leaders were a former Korean prime minister, the country’s assistant minister of Culture and Information, and a national assemblyman.
The temple drew approximately 13,000 people during its open house period, November 26 to December 7. Local Church leaders considered it a very good showing, considering that most Koreans work ten- to twelve-hour days, six days a week. But more important than numbers, leaders observed, was the opportunity for members to share the gospel with friends and acquaintances.
The temple, however, was serving as a boon to missionary work well before the open house. One early visitor was a young man who toured the temple grounds with a missionary couple while the building was being finished. At the end of the tour, the missionaries asked if he had any questions. Just one, he said: When could he be baptized? After instruction by missionaries and fellow-shipping by Church members, he was baptized September 29.
Correspondent: Shirley-June Younger, historical chairman for the Temple Committee.