Travelers to Cambodia making stop in Korea

There may be a multitude of peace-loving Americans praying that the recent threats coming out of North Korea are resolved without any sort of violence or bloodshed, but Granbury resident Billy Martin has a more immediate reason to call on help from above.

Martin was scheduled to leave today from Incheon International Airport in South Korea, about 30 miles west of Seoul, as he makes his way to Cambodia for a third consecutive year to teach English and the Bible to Koreans.

After some of the messages from North Korea with harsh threats directed at South Korea and the United States, more recently things may be settling down, Martin said.

“I’m feeling a little better now,” said Martin, an elder at the Granbury Church of Christ making the trip with fellow church members Danny and Kathy Moore, Julie Broyles and Bobbie Bertram. “It’s kind of calmed down, but you never know. I just pray a lot.”

He said North Korea’s actions may not be predictable, but “we just have to trust God that everything is going to be okay.”

Martin, who served in Vietnam with the Air Force in the 1970s stationed at Da Nang, said he is at peace about taking the trip.

The trip itself will be taxing enough without such worries. Martin said his flight will leave from Dallas and travel directly to Incheon – about 13 hours in the air.

After a layover there of about four hours, then there’s another five-hour flight to Phnom Penh, the capital and largest city in Cambodia.

Once in South Korea, members of the local group will use the Bible to teach English, primarily to college students, Martin said.

“We have a missionary we support there,” Martin explained.

He described the typical South Korean as very humble, having family values and being eager to learn.

“They seem very excited to meet Americans,” said Martin, executive director of the Christian Service Center in Granbury. “They’re courteous and very respectful.”

He said many of them are eager to improve their English language skills. He said that although Khmer is the national language, English is essential in many businesses – and being fluent in it can pay off significantly in the job market.

It works out well for all concerned.

“Their goal is to learn English, and my goal is to teach them God and the Bible,” said Martin, who had a 31-year career as a fingerprint expert with the FBI. He spent the final 11 years of his FBI stint as a unit chief in charge of the agency’s fingerprint repository before retiring in 2003.

The average salary in South Korea is about $70 per month, Martin said, adding that many start their work day at 4 a.m. and don’t go home until 8 p.m.

“They have to work that hard just to get by,” said Martin.

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