When Han In Sang was in school, he was required to learn a second language. He chose to learn German, and the first sentence he learned in German class made him laugh. Translated, it meant: “The sky is blue and life is beautiful.”
“I knew that wasn’t true,” he recalls. With his father in hiding from the government, the young Korean teenager—the oldest in his family—was desperately trying to shoulder family responsibilities.
“At the time, I was barefoot, walking on snow, hunting for firewood. I chased fish through frozen creeks so my pregnant mother could have food. Life was terrible, with no hope, no dream, no future.”
His life has certainly changed for the better in the last forty years. And Elder Han (Han is the surname, pronounced Hahn), called in June as a new member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, attributes that change to the gospel.
“I learned about the gospel from a fellow student in high school,” Elder Han relates. “He invited me to go to church with him.”
The first meeting that the future General Authority attended was an MIA activity. “I was impressed. The people were very nice to me and they were talking of family, love, happiness. Again, I laughed at these ideas, but then I became interested.” In 1957, after a year of investigation, seventeen-year-old In Sang (pronounced In Sahng) was baptized. His parents, who were staunch Buddhists, were not pleased with their son’s decision, but they finally gave their approval. Today, all six of Elder Han’s brothers and sisters are members of the Church, as well as his mother, whom he baptized while serving as the first Korean missionary to serve in Korea. Elder Han’s father is deceased.
Elder Han was born in Seoul on 10 December 1939. A graduate of a junior college in Inchon, he has served for the past seven years as regional manager for temporal affairs in the Church’s administrative office in Seoul. He previously managed the Seoul Distribution Center. He has also served as translation supervisor for the Church in Korea, and he translated the Book of Mormon into the Korean language while serving his mission.
After returning from his mission, Elder Han married Lee Kyn In, a young lady he had met several years earlier while he was teaching a Sunday School class. The two are the parents of five children: two daughters, Po Hee and Sun Hee (born while Elder Han was serving as mission president in Pusan); and three sons, Yong Hee, Tae Hee, and Chang Hee.
“I don’t have many monetary assets,” Elder Han points out. “But I feel as if I’m the richest man in the world because we are living in a happy home in a close family. Those are the things that are important.”
Serving in the Church is also important to Elder Han. He was the first Korean native called to serve as a mission president and was also the first to serve as a regional representative.
As the first Korean General Authority, Elder Han has been overwhelmed at the outpouring of love and support he has received from Saints all over the world. “I was scared and shocked when I received this call,” he explains. “But the support from others has been a strength to me as I realize the trust they feel.”
Elder Han looks back on his ordination as an elder in 1960 as an important moment in his life. At the time, “my relationship with my Savior was not what I wanted,” he explains. As he prepared to be ordained by Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, who was then an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve, “I realized that this man who was laying his hands on my head was a man of God,” recalls Elder Han. “Although I couldn’t touch my Savior, I could touch President Hinckley. So at that time I committed to always follow and obey this man’s counsel. By doing that, I knew I could be loyal to my Heavenly Father and the Savior. Now, whenever I have the chance to see President Hinckley, I quietly shout in my heart, ‘I’m all right. My life is in order.’ I want to be able to do that for the rest of my life.
“The gospel has given me a vision about the future, my family, and happiness,” Elder Han continues. “Because of the gospel, I have hope. Now I say yes, the sky is blue—any time, under any conditions. And life is beautiful.”