Christian Global Network TV (CGNTV) was established in 2005 as a satellite TV network by Onnuri Church, one of the largest megachurches in South Korea. First aimed at serving Korean missionaries and the Korean diaspora, CGNTV now broadcasts in multiple languages through several offices in Asia and North America. This documentary study examines CGNTV’s historical development, ministry foci, various partnerships, programming diversification, platform developments, and financing. The study concludes by suggesting for future study some challenges, questions, and opportunities that CGNTV faces today and in the future.
Christian Global Network TV (CGNTV) was established in 2005 as a satellite TV network by Onnuri Church, one of the largest megachurches in South Korea. The Onnuri-CGNTV affiliation has always been widely known among Korean Christians, and that understanding continues to this day. While CGNTV’s original scope was to serve Korean missionaries and the Korean diaspora, the network now broadcasts more broadly in multiple languages and operates through several overseas branch offices in Asia and North America. Programming and digital media platforms have diversified as well.
This article documents CGNTV’s historical development, including the network’s wider socio-economic context and religious broadcasting trends. Ministry foci, various partnerships, programming diversification, platform developments, and financing will also be analyzed. The study concludes by suggesting for future study some of the opportunities, challenges, and questions that CGNTV faces currently and beyond.
Christian Global Network Television (CGNTV) is a Korean Christian satellite TV network. CGNTV is affiliated with Seoul-based Onnuri Church (OC), one of Korea’s most prominent megachurches. Korea-based CGNTV also has an international reach and significant influence within the wider world of religious broadcasting. The same is true of OC within the wider world of Christian mission, evidenced, for example, by OC serving as the coordinating host of the upcoming Fourth Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization to be held in Seoul in 2024.
CGNTV’s stated mission is to be “the gospel channel for all nations.” Its vision is that of “reaching out further, and stepping in closer for a single soul [as we carry out] Glocal Mission and Education Broadcasting.”The fact that CGNTV takes its mission and vision seriously is evidenced by the careful design of its logotype, described below the CGNTV signature shown here (with its prescribed proportions between the CGNTV symbol and logotype):
Figure 1: CGNTV Logotype
“The angled edge on the upper right arm of T represents CGNTV which ‘goes further and steps in closer’ for every single soul around the world by providing a variety of content on multiple platforms, while the open space between T and V symbolizes CGNTV which is used as ‘a pathway for the Gospel’ through sharing of the Good News.”As this study’s title indicates, CGNTV seeks thoroughly to embody its identity as a “Digital Mission Network.”
OC and its founding pastor, the late Rev. Ha Yong-jo, established CGNTV in 2005. This bold venture into satellite broadcasting stemmed out of OC’s explosive growth since its beginning twenty years earlier, in 1985. Having begun with twelve families, by 2000 OC had rocketed to an active membership of around 21,000.South Korea’s corresponding economic growth, including in the electronics industry, provided the broader context for such a major financial and technological undertaking.
Religious broadcasting itself had already been established in Korea. Among Protestants, the Christian Broadcasting System (CBS) began with radio in 1954, adding an internet website in 1998 and CBS TV in 2002.CTS Christian TV incorporated in 1995, expanding with an internet broadcasting station in 2001. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seoul established the Catholic Peace Broadcasting Corporation in 1988, launching radio and cable TV broadcasts in 1990 and 1995. The Buddhist Broadcasting System (BBS) was founded in 1990 and the Buddhist Cable TV Network in 1995.
Not surprisingly, other Korean megachurches that had been founded earlier than OC also preceded it with specifically digital ministries. For example, both Yoido Full Gospel Church and Sarang Church established their internet ministries in 1997: the former started the Korean Christian Internet Broadcasting Co., Ltd.; and, Sarang Church’s new internet division included its portal site Godpia.com, offering multimedia contents.For its part, OC created an internal database in the 1990s to keep track of its burgeoning membership, and it was not until 2007 that an online version went live “for statistical and analytical use for the purpose of ministry;” in 2010 new “online pastoral care programs” began.
At the same time, OC’s rapid growth and outreach emphasis on evangelism and missions catapulted its relatively early launch of CGNTV. The satellite network’s internet-based predecessor, Onnuri TV, had begun in 2000, as had Onnuri Radio.Both programs soon began online broadcasts, including early morning prayer services from OC’s main Seobinggo campus in 2004. A 2004 alliance with Korea Telecommunications (KT) gave OC access to South Korea’s “biggest satellite system and . . . undersea cables.” The following year, “with a bigger ambition to advance missionary efforts through satellite broadcasting, Onnuri TV revamped itself into CGNTV.” (The original name selected was Global Christian Network, but due to previously registered trademarks the name was changed to CGNTV. It is important to distinguish CGNTV from the similarly named GCNTV that is associated with the scandal-ridden Manmin Central Church.  )
CGNTV’s subsequent development has made it a representative example of Korean Christian satellite networks, similar to how Sarang Church’s internet ministry has been a pacesetter in providing extensive online ministries.In line with its initial focus on strengthening Korean missionaries, CGNTV’s first focused project was labeled Dream On and aimed to install satellite dishes wherever (OC-related) missionaries were serving. Expanding CGNTV’s focus beyond just missionaries (and the Korean diaspora) has meant broader dish locations as well, and the continuing Dream On campaign has enabled the installation of around 11,500 satellite antennas in 101 countries. Moreover, the campaign has funded the installation of indoor, weather-proof, and internet-based set-top boxes now numbering about 3,500 units in fifty-two countries.
CGNTV’s access to satellites came through its early partnership with KT and then with SAT-7 (see below). More direct arrangements for “relaying digital signals to a geo-stationary satellite in an equatorial orbit which are then received by satellite dishes”began with broadcasting through Satellite IS-10 in 2007. Currently, CGNTV is available (at least in terms of satellite transmission coverage) in over 170 countries by transmitting via four satellites, the geographically widest coverages supplied via Satellites Hispasat 1-E (30W-5) and IS-20.
In OC founding pastor Ha Yong-jo’s words when CGNTV was founded, “Whatever the cost, as Christ’s return draws nearer, the task falls on us to spread the Gospel through CGNTV to the missionaries and all the nations all over the world which cable TV or public broadcasting cannot reach.”onnuri (“whole world”), “CGNTV initially began to spiritually provide [for] missionaries and Korean diaspora worldwide.” Stated differently, “CGNTV was founded in 2005 for Korean missionaries who follow God’s great mandate to be His ‘witnesses to the ends of the earth’ in hostile and remote corners of the world.” At its inception, CGNTV was a Korean-language outreach to strengthen Korean Christians around the world for the cause of world evangelization.Propelled by OC’s missions vision to dispatch missionaries to reach the
That initial focus has expanded considerably and in various arenas. With respect to OC, including its several campuses in South Korea and 30 “vision churches” located internationally, CGNTV has become interrelated with many aspects of OC life and ministry.Training in daily devotions, or 큐티 (QT for “Quiet Time”), has been one of OC’s foundational emphases from the beginning; QT messages are available on CGNTV and in multiple languages. CGNTV broadcasts OC’s weekly worship services and daily early morning prayer services; often synchronizes Sr. Pastor Lee Jae-hoon’s sermons for multiple worship sites; and, regularly supplies brief videos used before or during worship. Since its 2007 beginning, OC’s Love Sonata outreach in Japan has utilized CGNTV as an integral part of “a solid network” of ongoing ministry. CGNTV’s prominence in OC’s life and ministry is exemplified in its occupying one of the few headings on the OC homepage, and CGNTV’s own homepage gives clear indication of the wide scope of its ministries.
Internationally, missions outreach is the DNA of OC. Pastor Ha Yong-jo’s early (and enduring) strategy was to create a publishing company (Duranno Press) and a missions sending agency (Tyrannus International Mission [TIM])—both named after Tyrannus Hall of Acts 19:9—to disseminate the gospel worldwide.CGNTV has joined these structures, and in many ways it has not only enhanced but exceeded them in OC’s world evangelization efforts. On the one hand, the network’s Korean-language and South Korea-based ministries, programming, and technological platforms far exceed those in other languages and countries—although twenty-four-hour ON AIR broadcasting is provided as well in Japanese and in Chinese. Notwithstanding its strong Korean focus, given the network’s increasingly prominent role in OC missions, “The CGNTV staff of 160” has determined that they “will not rest until the whole world is evangelized with the Good News of Jesus Christ beyond the barriers of class, generation, language, culture, and national boundaries.”
OC had enormous human, financial, and technological resources when it launched CGNTV in 2005. Even so, such an ambitious and specialized undertaking necessitated partnering with others involved in satellite TV broadcasting. The aforementioned alliance with KT in 2004 provided access to large-scale infrastructure requirements, particularly satellites and undersea cables. A 2006 collaboration agreement with SAT-7, which had been established in 1995 for broadcasting throughout the Middle East and North Africa,enhanced the reach, expertise, and quality of CGNTV’s work. While CGNTV no longer maintains official partnerships with international Christian networks, as a satellite-based broadcasting network with multiple channels and diverse programming in multiple languages, SAT-7 provides a comparable example to CGNTV structurally and in types of ministry.
CGNTV’s partnerships have become more country specific—including within Korea—as new branch offices and production centers have been established in the US (2005), Japan (Tokyo in 2006 and Osaka in 2007), Taipei (2008), Bangkok (2010), Abu Dhabi (2012), and Jakarta (2014). CGNTV’s central role in creating a sizable network of churches throughout Japan is particularly noteworthy. CGNTV has entered into MOUs and other agreements in many countries, including in Egypt and Hong Kong. CGNTV works together with local denominations, pastors, and Christian leaders in participating in various organizations, seminaries, and Korean missionary councils. Within Korea, CGNTV partners with educational institutions, mission agencies, and Christian organizations.
Reflecting the wide range of partnering organizations in Korea, as well as those in Japan and in Chinese circles, supporters and cooperating agencies are listed toward the bottom of each homepage of the main CGNTV website, the CGNTV Japan website, and the CGNTV Chinese website.
Figures 2–4: CGNTV, CGNTV Japan, and CGNTV Chinese Homepages
The expansion and diversification of CGNTV’s programming has accompanied the widening scope of the network’s ministry goals. What began as a satellite broadcasting extension of OC’s missions outreach to and through Korean missionaries and the Korean diaspora has broadened into nothing short of seeking to achieve world evangelization “beyond the barriers of class, generation, language, culture, and national boundaries.”Moreover, sermons, Bible teaching, worship services, and other similar contents have gradually expanded into a wide array of offerings to various targeted audiences.
Having officially begun in March 2005, CGNTV’s programming capacities leaped forward with its live satellite broadcasts of four major gatherings held during the August 2005 Jerusalem Peace March.The gatherings were worship services held at the Sea of Galilee, in Jerusalem, and in Bethlehem, and they were part of a multi-week event attended by about 2,500 Korean Christians. It was quite natural that CGNTV broadcast the gatherings, since OC, in collaboration with two other Korean megachurches and two Korean organizations, was both a primary organizer and the supplier of about 1,500 (sixty percent) of the attendees.
Figures 5–6: CGNTV Broadcasts from Israel
Not surprisingly CGN News reported extensively on the 2005 Jerusalem Peace March event’s preparation and meetings. It is also worth noting how the early changing names of the news program reflected the expansion of the program’s scope and frequency. The program began as Onnuri News in 2002 as part of Onnuri TV’s lineup. The name changed to CGN News in December 2004, as a test broadcast of the launching of CGNTV the following spring. In November 2005, CGN News became CGN Today, the name that has continued ever since. Also worthy of special mention is CGN Today’s 2015 award-winning report on challenges facing the burgeoning immigrants in Korea, “Refugee Exodus, Finding Hope.”
CGNTV’s programming expanded significantly, particularly linguistically, together with the establishment of offices internationally. It was broadcasting in multiple languages that changed CGNTV’s self-identification from a “Mission & Education Network” to a “Customized Mission Network.”Love Sonata, starting with the first one held in Okinawa in April 2007. Similar linguistic expansions have taken place in English, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Indonesian, Thai, and other languages. Either native speakers or translations in subtexts provide programming in the appropriate languages.The launch of Los Angeles-based CGNTV USA in late August 2005 led to broadcasting in Spanish the following year, and in 2008 seminary courses were offered in Latin America. CGNTV’s expansion into Spanish broadcasts reflected OC’s multi-pronged missions vision for Central and South America. Similarly, establishing CGNTV Japan in late 2006 (with an additional Osaka branch in early 2007) meant broadcasting in Japanese as well as broadcasts of OC’s “cultural evangelism” program
Figures 7–8: CGNTV Indonesia and CGNTV Thai Homepages
Along with broadcasts of special events, documentaries have significantly expanded the CGNTV repertoire of programs. One of the first was the 2012 award-winning Smile LacRose, conveying the gospel work of a Brazilian missionary couple and collaborating OC ministries in the Pink Lake region of Senegal. Special documentaries increased in 2015, with two commemorating the 130-year anniversary of Protestant missionaries arriving in Korea, “Female Missionaries Shine on Joseon” and the award-winning “Black Mountain: In Remembrance of the Times Past,” as well as the award-winning “Confessions of Missionary Kids.” Of special note among the several other documentaries that have ensued was the highly publicized and award-winning “서서평, 천천히 평온하게” (“Seo Seo-Pyeong, Slowly and Peacefully”), released in April 2017. Rather than being shown on CGNTV, this seventy-eight-minute film about the life and service of the German-American missionary to Korea, Elisabeth Shepping, was CGNTV’s first venture in making a production available in theaters to ticket-purchasing viewers.
Figures 9–10: Introduction and Scene from “Seo Seo-Pyeong”
CGNTV’s documentaries have ventured beyond specifically religious themes; for example, its 2019 documentary 낮은 곳에서 피는 봄 (Spring Bloomed in the Shade) commemorates the centennial of Korea’s March 1st Independence Movement. Furthermore, other types of programming diversification accelerated with the 2017–2018 production of the comedic mini-drama series 두근두근 마카롱 (Pounding Macaron). First, Pounding Macaron utilized CGNTV’s new “ ‘Knock’ Mini Human Documentary” format, begun in 2016, with its four-to-seven-minute episodes. Also, this two-season series (with fifteen and seven episodes respectively) was among CGNTV’s cutting-edge attempts to connect with Christians and non-Christians alike. The 2019 K-drama series 고고송 (Go Go Song), with the theme “Love is nothing if not everything,” similarly sought to connect with a wide audience. Aired on two consecutive nights in January, the one-hour episodes weave through various evolving relationships, centering on a young man and woman navigating their commitment to each other. Within a few months, international YouTube viewings exceeded one million.
Figure 11: CGNTV’s 2019 K-Drama “Go Go Song”
In 2019 a short (typically three-minute) format called SOON, consisting of a devotional message or testimony, was launched.
Figure 12: SOON Program Examples
These brief programs have become popular enough that SOON is a main heading on the homepages of both the main CGNTV website and the CGNTV Japan website. There is also a separate Korean CGNTV SOON YouTube channel and Japanese SOON CGNTV YouTube playlist.CGN News began a weekly “View Ridge” twenty-minute segment of commentary on various social, religious, cultural, political, and other themes.As yet another programming venture, in 2020
Programming decisions and planning are largely carried out by the various production departments. In some cases—especially with international preachers, teachers, authors, entertainers, and others—production managers may struggle adequately to grasp potential featured speakers’ content, reputations, organizational connections, and other important factors. Third-party analyses and evaluations are consulted to ensure that rigorous screening takes place.
CGNTV’s array of targeted audiences has meant programs for various ages of children and adults. The broadcasts of sermons and Bible teaching feature a wide swath of speakers, including for both Korean and non-Korean programs. Preachers and teachers shown on CGNTV are in many cases well-known (e.g., Brian Houston, John Piper) and are always consistent with OC’s evangelical (or evangelical-charismatic) theological posture, self-described as “Word and Spirit.”And while CGNTV’s connection with OC is widely understood among Korean Christians, programming has expanded to the point that only about sixty percent is OC-related. Especially with the added impetus for diversified programming brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the trend is for CGNTV’s programs to continue to expand.
CGNTV was born out of OC’s missions passion and willingness to use the latest technological developments for gospel proclamation—which in the early 2000s included satellite broadcasting. Ever since, the network’s employment of various platforms has tried to keep pace with the most up-to-date technological developments of electronic communications in use among the populations of South Korea and elsewhere.
Just a year after the world’s very first podcast in 2004 (which was three years after the Apple iPod’s debut in 2001),in November 2005 CGNTV launched a weekly eight-minute English Bible Story on Apple Podcasts—lasting 220 episodes until January 2010. These particular podcasts fit with CGNTV’s aforementioned early self-identification as a “Mission & Education Network,” providing both English language instruction as well as Bible study content.
In Korea, CGNTV launched its first cable TV channel in 2008, then its second in 2012.Currently CGNTV has four cable channels in Korea, three on major cable providers and one in Daegu, in southeast Korea. CGNTV ventured into IPTV as well (Internet Protocol Television) in 2008 and currently has three IPTV channels.
Also in 2008, CGN mobile service began—the year following the release of the first iPhone—with smartphone-specific service launched in 2010.Not surprisingly, CGNTV soon ventured into social media platforms, as well. It joined Twitter in 2009. The first CGNTV YouTube channel was launched in 2010, followed by Facebook in 2011 and Instagram in 2015. CGNTV’s international branches, while lagging behind the Korean home base in local TV offerings, were not far behind in setting up their own, country-appropriate social media platforms (see Appendix A).
New magazine offerings, both electronic and print, deserve mention as well. Interestingly, CGNTV Japan was the first to publish its version, CGN Journal, in 2010, totaling fourteen volumes through 2017. The Korean CGN Magazine began in 2013 and to date has published thirty-one volumes.
CGNTV’s latest innovative platform—so far offered only in Korean—is an OTT (Over-The-Top) service called 퐁당 (fondant, branded with a lower-case “f”). OTT platforms offer streaming video directly to viewers over the internet.Netflix may be the most widely familiar example of an OTT platform, and a visit to CGNTV’s 퐁당 feels remarkably similar. Contents consist of what is already available on other CGNTV platforms and some that is original for fondant. Both OC and CGNTV currently give 퐁당 prominent promotional space, including on their websites and on the large billboard that sits atop the CGNTV building in Seoul.
Figure 13: fondant Contents page
Figures 14–15: CGNTV’s Online Fundraising and Billboard Promotion for 퐁당 (fondant)
As CGNTV explained in its fall 2020 퐁당 previews, the isolation of smaller churches and of individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic gave all the more impetus to create this new OTT platform.CGNTV introduced 퐁당 in February 2021, touting it as “Korea’s first Christian OTT platform.” Offering parents and local churches control for tailoring contents for their own situations, by self-declaration “Fondant provides proven high-quality gospel content to become a pure gospel content platform free of heresy, advertisements, and harmful content.”
The name 퐁당 has its own interesting story. Seeking a name to convey the platform’s purpose of sending the gospel flowing out into all the world, the planning team first sought a term that could be used both in English (or at least spelled with the alphabet) and in Korean. The French word fondant came to mind, meaning (per the CGNTV explanation) “to overflow, fall into.” Furthermore, “fondant” phonetically resembles the Korean “퐁당” (“pongdang”), beloved among Koreans due to the popular kids song “퐁당 퐁당” about the sound of a rock thrown into deep water. English speakers may be confused first by the meaning for them of “fondant” as a type of icing and, second, by the transliteration of 퐁당 as “fongdang” that may appear. Korean speakers, however, will resonate warmly with the name 퐁당 and catch the intended meaning of gospel waves metaphorically rippling out widely.
Figure 16: fondant Children’s Programs
CGNTV’s marketing sensibilities about the “infinite competition between platforms and contents” in today’s Korean digital media world fuels its attempt “to walk a completely differentiated path from existing Christian broadcasts.” The 퐁당 OTT platform means that CGNTV not only “provides customized services for mission agencies and missionaries working all over the world” but also enables “families, churches, and communities to have a platform that can be individually designed.”onnuri has helped OC’s name resonate among its Korean membership and audience, so does CGNTV hope that its 퐁당 platform finds a home in the hearts of Korean individuals, Christians, and churches.Just as choosing the Korean term
There are four interrelated areas of CGNTV and its finances that need highlighting. First is that it receives no commercial support. Second is that operating CGNTV is quite expensive. Third is that appeals for financial support are close to ubiquitous in much of CGNTV’s programming. Fourth is the nature of CGNTV’s financial oversight and decision-making.
The OC Senior Pastor, first Rev. Ha Yong-jo and now his successor Rev. Lee Jae-hoon, has always served as CGNTV “Chief Director.” In his website message introducing CGNTV, Senior Pastor Lee notes how CGNTV “was started with an aim to deliver the Gospel only, against commercial broadcasting networks seeking worldly values. By the last [late] Pastor Yong-Jo Ha’s will, we have strived to serve . . . based on unwavering belief in God’s provision, never trying to turn the message of Good News into any type of profit-seeking business.”Accordingly, as noted earlier, CGNTV’s fondant provides its content “free of . . . advertisements.”
Operating in such a way is particularly striking in light of the level of funding involved. Depicted graphically, with English (and currency) translation below, in 2020 CGNTV’s income and expenses were as follows:
Figure 17: CGNTV 2020 Income and Expenses
Income: ₩18,922,000,000 (US$16,945,000 @ $1 = ₩1,116.64)
- General Support 69%
- Church Support 27%
- Broadcasting Income 3%
Expenses: ₩18,071,000,000 (US$16,183,000 @ $1 = ₩1,116.64)
- Broadcast Production/Equipment Operation 41%
- Ministry Expenses 39%
- Broadcast Satellite Use 13%
- General Management 7%
An annual budget of US$16–17 million is no small undertaking. The fact that over two-thirds of CGNTV’s income comes from donor support other than churches (including OC) suggests the enormity of the ongoing fundraising task that CGNTV faces in exercising its “unwavering belief in God’s provision.”
The massive financial need helps to explain the third area of ever-present information about how to contribute support. ON AIR TV broadcasts display, in the top right corner of the screen, rotating information for making donations. The various information displayed provides flexibility for giving either a modest set amount or a donor-determined amount, as well as for designating the area of CGNTV’s needs for which the gift is intended:
Figures 18–21: ON AIR Programming with Donation Information (Top Right)
Some VOD (Video on Demand) programs begin with a brief notice about donating. For those viewing via the internet, links for contributing—including to special categories or ongoing projects like the aforementioned Dream On campaign—are also readily accessible:
Figures 22–24: Donation Information on CGNTV Web Pages
Various categories for giving include (among others) “Next Generation Broadcasting,” program production, broadcast equipment, and satellite use.
Donation information is displayed within the 퐁당 (fondant) platform, as well. Also, OC and CGNTV have recently sponsored a 30-day “Run! fondant” fundraising campaign involving pledges to biking, running, or walking participants.
CGNTV is by no means unique in Christian TV media networks displaying information for receiving donations. In comparing with the other Korean example of a megachurch-associated network, GOODTV connected with Yoido Full Gospel Church, one could even argue that CGNTV is the more restrained of the two, since GOODTV displays on-screen donation information in both ON AIR and VOD broadcasts:
Figures 25–26: Donation Information on GOODTV
The point here is not to evaluate or compare but to understand what lies behind the strikingly ubiquitous displays of how CGNTV viewers and users can willingly offer financial support to help underwrite a very expensive operation.
The fourth area to consider is the nature of CGNTV’s financial oversight and decision-making. One note is that CGNTV’s income and expenses, while not shared publicly on CGNTV’s website, are included in information sent to donors. Organizationally speaking, “CGNTV is a subsidiary of the Onnuri Mission Foundation,” so “CGNTV’s income and expenditures are reported to the Onnuri Mission Foundation every year.” Furthermore, there are two audits annually conducted by OC, and two separate audits from external organizations take place each year, as well.
Even more frequent are the monthly meetings of the nine-member CGNTV Executive Committee, consisting of OC elders. At those meetings the CGNTV staff “report on the budget, organizational reorganization, and work status,” discussing and making decisions with the executive committee accordingly.Clearly, CGNTV’s finances and decision-making operate under the oversight of OC as well as of legal authorities who would inspect the regular audits conducted both internally and externally.
Opportunities, Challenges, and Questions for Future Study
As noted earlier, COVID-19-induced isolation of individuals and of churches has provided the opportunity for CGNTV to develop and offer its OTT platform, 퐁당 (fondant). CGNTV has understood this opportunity to be significant enough to create a distinct organizational structure for 퐁당 that reports directly to the CGNTV CEO.Also, thirty-six staff working on six teams have been devoted to the project, with some having been reassigned and thus straining capacities in other CGNTV categories. Clearly OC and CGNTV see tremendous potential for 퐁당.
The financial challenges associated with such a large allocation of resources to a single project, wide in its effects as 퐁당 is expected to be, are clear enough. When added to the inherently massive expenses of an ever-expanding satellite-digital network like CGNTV, the financial challenges of further developing 퐁당 appear all the more imposing. Even though giving levels to OC mission efforts remarkably keep increasing despite anticipated decreases caused by COVID-19’s adverse economic effects, in the future OC’s and CGNTV’s “unwavering belief in God’s provision” may be tested like never before.
A related challenge—which could also be considered a welcome and multifaceted opportunity—is CGNTV’s relationship with OC. This challenge is not due to any problematic issues or relationships that have arisen; they have not. Rather, there is a certain measure of ambiguity in the OC-CGNTV relationship, as there is in several other relationships that OC has with entities it has created for specific purposes, for example, the NGO Better World and the publisher Duranno Press. Since these entities reflect OC’s mission-focused DNA, OC mission leaders face the ongoing challenge of navigating the nuances of each particular relationship, as well as of coordinating the collaboration between OC’s various mission organizations—including CGNTV—expected by OC’s “convergence” approach in its mission endeavors.
The OC-CGNTV relational ambiguity also presents itself with respect both to self-posturing and to outsiders’ perceptions. On the one hand, CGNTV’s ON AIR broadcasting and its VOD offerings stand independently enough that a newcomer, particularly a non-Korean, likely would not notice the OC connection. At the same time, the twenty percent OC-related programs are there—and in some programming categories in greater percentages. Furthermore, photo links to messages by OC Founding Pastor Ha Yong-jo or current Senior Pastor Lee Jae-hoon are always visible on both the Korean and all international branches of CGNTV homepages (except CGNTV Thai). If one adds to this ambiguous programming display the commonly assumed fact among Korean Christians that CGNTV is OC’s satellite TV network, it is easy to see how confusion can arise regarding the OC-CGNTV relationship—possibly including where financial contributions end up.
Even among the OC membership and OC organizational structures, uncertainties about the church’s relationship with CGNTV must surely arise. On the one hand, CGNTV has always clearly been OC’s network. All CGNTV top-management positions are held by OC leaders, organized in Korean hierarchical fashion.In Sunday worship services and other events, there are broadcasting personnel wearing their CGNTV shirts and visibly operating large TV cameras. CGNTV-produced announcements and videos are often shown before or during services, and CGNTV signage is visible around church facilities. On the other hand, CGNTV has its own logo, distinct from that of OC. CGNTV has benefited from special monthly “Vision Offerings” collected in the OC Sunday worship services. Those select offerings go to particular ministries that are often associated with outside, non-OC organizations. Such pointers to CGNTV’s own external existence might confuse those inside OC who otherwise recognize CGNTV as an OC ministry.
For CGNTV itself, even with its own clearly defined mission, vision, and brand identity, the network has a need “to further solidify its identity as a mission, education broadcasting system.”Such a need is not all that surprising when recalling, first, CGNTV’s early transition from a “Mission & Education Network” to a “Customized Mission Network.” This change was due in large part to internationalization and linguistic diversification. Recalling as well the significant expansions in programming and platforms that have taken place, like any ever-evolving organization CGNTV must continually sharpen its roles and purpose.
A series of questions concern CGNTV’s OC-connected Korean identity and its stated desire to be a “Christian Global Network.” First, in what sense(s) was CGNTV “global” as originally conceived? Was it the network’s newfound capacity to broadcast to “Korean viewers living worldwide”? Was it Pastor Ha Yong-jo’s sense of OC’s calling “to spread the Gospel through CGNTV to the missionaries and the nations all over the world which cable TV or public broadcasting cannot reach”? Was it an unrealistic, grandiose notion that in 2005 “the whole world watched in awe as CGNTV broadcast the spectacular Jerusalem Peace March live”?
Second, in what sense(s) is CGNTV “global” today? Does the network’s programming being available in over 170 countries (with satellite antennas in 101 countries) by transmitting via four satellites qualify? Does having branches in a handful of countries outside South Korea, or broadcasting in a handful of other languages in addition to Korean, help make the network global? Is it CGNTV’s aforementioned aspiration to reach “every single soul around the world”?
Third, in what sense(s) can CGNTV ever be actually “global”? Should it mean program and platform availability in all the world’s countries, including 퐁당? Availability in how many languages would make an actual “global” network? Or—and this is a key distinction—does “global” represent a spirit, vision, or ideal rather than some actual benchmark? Just as the term onnuri (“whole world”) represents the mission DNA of Onnuri Church, CGNTV was established and will continue to be “global” with respect to its spirit. Becoming in actual fact “global” would seem to be an unobtainable fantasy. The point of caution for CGNTV is not to allow its global ideal to be grandiose in a self-deluding or self-promoting way.
A helpful corrective would be for CGNTV explicitly to present itself, rather than as the Christian Global Network TV, as one part of the Christian global network of digital TV broadcasters.
A final category of both challenges and questions for CGNTV is that of analytics and evaluation, particularly of user-viewer preferences and impact. Currently, there are only limited capacities for learning from or about users-viewers. Nielsen ratings provide a measure of feedback. So do the numbers of subscribers and viewer patterns of CGNTV’s twenty-plus YouTube channels. Facebook and Instagram have the capacity for feedback, as do ON AIR programs through phone numbers displayed for financial support. Otherwise, random and ad hoc comments from performers, a viewer monitoring group, and the CGNTV executive and steering committees are what provide limited information for analyzing and evaluating the actual impact CGNTV has.
The CGNTV website lacks a login function. Comment functions and channels are not yet developed for most platforms. No database for user-viewer analysis has been developed. While CGNTV is aware of these lacks and needs, when and how it will be able to meet the major challenges they present is an open question.
Since its launch in 2005, CGNTV has played increasingly prominent roles in the life and work of the OC network of churches, missionaries, and ministries. Korean Christian circles, both in South Korea and in the international Korean diaspora, have also benefited from CGNTV broadcasting. CGNTV’s ministries also seem to have served well, particularly in Japan, in select Chinese circles, as well as in certain Indonesian, Thai, and certain other non-Korean Christian groups.
CGNTV’s cultivation of partnerships, both initially to expand broadcasting reach and subsequently within countries of operation, has been strategic. The development of diverse programs and platforms—including adaptations for ever-increasing mobile users-viewers and the recent OTT platform 퐁당—has been impressive. So has the sustained financial support of such a significant undertaking. OC and CGNTV have good reasons for continued optimism about the network’s opportunities for service and development.
While the various ambiguities in the OC-CGNTV relationship likely will continue, the relationship is unquestioned and firmly intact. CGNTV is almost inconceivable apart from its belonging to OC. Indeed, seeing CGNTV as part of OC’s constellation of ministries—for example, Duranno Press, OC’s missions sending agency TIM, worship services, and conferences—helps in understanding CGNTV’s role in OC’s overall mission and education ministries. Its OC home, known for its own creative and cutting-edge ministry approaches, also helps to explain CGNTV’s readiness to roll out innovative programs and platforms for the sake of reaching various audiences.
Indeed, CGNTV’s prominent roles in such fundamentally important aspects of OC life as QT and worship stretches OC’s ecclesiological self-identity into virtual spaces that are unfettered by geographic location. COVID-19 conditions have pushed notions of “virtual church” into mainstream ecclesiological consideration, and CGNTV’s increased roles in OC’s life and ministries has only added to areas in which Onnuri Church will grow in its self-understanding. The ecclesiological effects of OC’s virtual ministries—spearheaded by CGNTV—both on the church’s self-identity and in comparison with other churches actively engaged in virtual ministries is an important theme for ongoing research and analysis.
Other challenges and questions CGNTV faces are not minor. Its financial, personnel, and organizational challenges are substantial. Having a realistic and humble posture with regard to CGNTV’s professed “global” character will continue to affect the network’s self-understanding and relations with other non-OC ministries—with which CGNTV must increasingly and humbly collaborate. Issues of measuring actual audience perceptions and effects must also be addressed.
The first sixteen years of CGNTV have been noteworthy in many respects. Opportunities for impactful ministries have only grown with the world’s increased use of digital communications. Some of the ongoing challenges and questions are vexing and will require further research. Even so, CGNTV can face the future with optimism and hope, trusting in God’s ongoing faithfulness and provision.
Appendix A: CGNTV Korea and International Branches: Years Social Media Platforms Established (per each social media account or homepage; accessed May 24–25, 2021)
** CGNTV Thai and Chinese use “Line” as well; CGNTV Chinese also uses WeChat.
J. Nelson Jennings (PhD, Edinburgh University) serves several mission research networks and projects, including the Community of Mission Information Workers (CMIW), Alliance of Mission Researchers and Institutions, and Korean Global Mission Leaders Forum. He has edited three missiological journals: Missiology, the International Bulletin of Missionary Research, and (currently) Global Missiology – English. Books he has authored or co-edited include Theology in Japan: Takakura Tokutaro, 1885–1934 (2005), God the Real Superpower: Rethinking our Role in Missions (2007), and Missions and Money: Global Realities and Challenges (2022). Jennings recently served Onnuri Church (Seoul) for over six years as a missions pastor, consultant, and international liaison. He and his family lived and served in Nagoya and Chiba, Japan (1986–1999), then in St. Louis, USA (1999–2011), where he taught World Mission at Covenant Theological Seminary.
1 “Seoul 2024: an Opportunity to Listen, Gather and Act – Together,” Lausanne Movement, accessed August 4, 2022, .
2 “About CGNTV,” CGNTV English, ; CGNTV, “CGNTV – About,” CGNTV, YouTube, .
3 “About CGNTV – Brand Identity,” CGNTV, ; “About CGNTV,” CGNTV English.
4 J. Nelson Jennings, “Missional Missions: A Missiological Case Study of Onnuri Community Church,” in Conversations on the Future of Mission, vol. 5 of Working Papers of the American Society of Missiology (Wilmore, KY: First Fruits Press, 2018): 34, .
5 “History,” CBS (Christian Broadcasting System), .
6 “CTS Introduction – History,” CTS (Christian Television System), .
7 “The proclamation of the Gospel in Korea travels on radio, newspapers, web and cable TV,” Agenzia Fides, .
8 “Buddhism in Korea Today,” Heller, .
9 “GOODTV History,” GOODTV, ; Lee, Dae Suk Lee, “An Effective Internet Ministry Strategy for Church Evangelism through a Case Study of the Sarang Community Church” (DMin diss., Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, 2010), 54–55, ; “GODpia,” Sarang Church GODpia, .
10 Chang-Geuk Moon, ed., Onnuri Community Church: The First 30 Years, trans. Onnuri Mission R&D (Seoul: Lee Jae-Hoon, Onnuri Community Church, 2017), 199–200.
11 “About Us – Introduction,” formerly w1.CGNTV.net, ; Tae-kyung Hahm, CGNTV General Director, electronic correspondence with the author (often trans. by OC Pastor Sonia Yim), January–May, 2021.
12 Moon, 194-196.
13 Hahm, 2021.
14 “GCN – Global Christian Network,” GCNTV, ; Jon Sharman, “South Korean cult pastor Lee Jaerock jailed for raping followers,” Independent, November 22, 2018, .
15 K. Kale Yu, Understanding Korean Christianity: Grassroot Perspectives on Causes, Culture, and Responses (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2019), 76n2.
16 Moon, 198; “2005 Jerusalem Peace March,” replays (four gatherings), CGNTV, and .
17 Hahm, 2021.
18 “Watch CGNTV – Satellite,” CGNTV English, .
19 “Intelsat 10,” Satbeams, 2007–2020, ; “About CGNTV – History,” CGNTV, .
20 “About CGNTV – City Hall Guide – Satellite,” CGNTV, .
21 “Satellite Fleet – Hispasat 30W-5,” Hispasat, 2021, ; “Solutions – Media – Reach The Next Broadcasting Frontier with Intelsat 20,” Intelsat, 2020, .
22 Moon, 197.
23 Jennings, “Missional Missions,” 39.
24 “About CGNTV,” Introductory video, CGNTV English , 1:21–1:27.
25 Yong-Kyung Lee, “About Us – CEO – For a Single Soul, ‘Reaching out Further Stepping in Closer,’ ” CGNTV, .
26 “Campuses and Vision Churches,” Onnuri Church, .
27 “QT,” CGNTV, .
28 Yong-Jo Ha, The Dream of an Acts-Like Church: Onnuri Community Church’s Ecclesiology and Pastoral Philosophy, trans. Aimee Bak, 2nd ed. (previously published as 사도행전적 교회를 꿈꾼다 [2007; Seoul: Duranno Ministry, 2017]), 338; J. Nelson Jennings, “ ‘God’s Love Song for the Nations’: A Contextual Analysis of Onnuri Church’s ‘Love Sonata’ ‘Cultural Evangelism Gatherings’ in Japan,” Ecclesial Futures 1, no. 2 (2020): 62–69.
29 Onnuri Church,” Onnuri Church, .
30 “CGNTV,” CGNTV, .
31 Jennings, “Missional Missions,” 36.
32 Hahm, 2021.
33 Yong-Kyung Lee, “About Us.”
34 “Our History,” SAT-7, .
35 “About Us – History,” CGNTV English, ; Moon, 196–97.
36 Hahm, 2021.
37 “CGNTV,” CGNTV.
38 “CGNTV,” CGNTV Japan, ; “CGNTV,” CGNTV Chinese, .
39 “About Us – History,” CGNTV English.
40 Hahm, 2021.
41 “CGNTV,” CGNTV; “CGNTV,” CGNTV Japan; “CGNTV,” CGNTV Chinese.
42 Yong-Kyung Lee, “About Us.”
43 Moon, 197; “2005 Jerusalem Peace March,” CGNTV.
44 Seong-ju Choi, “Things Left Behind by ‘Jerusalem Jesus March 2005,’ ” Deulsori Newspaper, August 24, 2005, .
45 “2005 Jerusalem Peace March,” CGNTV, replays (four gatherings), .
46 “CGN News – In Anticipation of the Jerusalem Peace March in Jerusalem,” CGNTV Today, June 9 news clip, ; “CGN News – Start! Jerusalem Peace March 2005,” CGNTV Today, August 3 news clip, ; “CGN News – Peace March Galilee Sunday Worship,” CGNTV Today, August 9 news clip, ;” CGN News – Shalom Jerusalem! Salam Palestine!” CGNTV Today, August 18 news clip, .
47 “Onnuri News – Is Korea the Luxury Heaven?” CGNTV Today, April 6, 2002, .
48 “Onnuri News,” CGNTV Today, December 3, 2004, ; “CGN News,” CGNTV Today, December 4, 2004, ; Hahm, 2021.
49 “CGN News,” CGNTV Today, November 23, 2005, ; “CGN Today,” CGNTV Today, November 24, 2005, .
50 “About CGNTV – History,” CGNTV; “난민 엑소더스.. 희망을 찾아 9” (“Refugee Exodus. Finding Hope 9”), CGN Today, November 30, 2015, .
51 “About Us – Introduction,” formerly w1.CGNTV.net, .
52 “Christian satellite broadcasting ‘CGN TV’ launched in the Americas,” Christian Today, September 1, 2005, ; “About Us – History,” CGNTV English; “About CGNTV – History,” CGNTV.
53 Moon, 220.
54 Jennings, “Love Sonata”; “About CGNTV – History,” CGNTV; “CGNTV,” CGNTV Japan; CGNTV 2007 “Okinawa – Evening Rally” CGNTV, .
55 “About CGNTV,” CGNTV English; “CGNTV,” CGNTV Chinese; “CGNTV Indonesia,” CGNTV Indonesia, ; ”CGNTV,” CGNTV Thai, ; Moon, 198.
56 “Smile LacRose(English),” .
57 “About CGNTV – History,” CGNTV; “女선교사, 조선을 비추다” (“Female Missionaries Shine on Joseon”), CGNTV, ; “블랙마운틴-잊혀진 시간을 찾아서” (“Black Mountain: In Remembrance of the Times Past”), CGNTV, ; “MK의 고백” (“Confessions of Missionary Kids”), CGNTV, .
58 “서서평, 천천히 평온하게” (“Seo Seo-Pyeong, Slowly and Peacefully”)’ April 17, 2017 preview, CGNTV, .
59 “낮은 곳에서 피는 봄” (“The Spring Bloomed in Shade”), .
60 “두근두근 마카롱” (“Pounding Macaron”), season 1, episode 1, “작전명:상견례” (“Operation: Mutual Visit”), CGNTV, ; “두근두근 마카롱” (“Pounding Macaron”), season 2, episode 7, “오늘따라 아내가 이상하다면?” (“What if your Wife Is Weird Today?”), CGNTV, .
61 “About Us – History,” CGNTV English.
62 “고고송” (“Go Go Song”), episode 1, January 25, 2019, ; “고고송” (“Go Go Song”), episode 2, January 26, 2019, .
63 Hyunsung Kim, “CGNTV surpasses 1 million on YouTube for ‘Go Go Song’,” Newspower, 2019, .
64 About CGNTV – History,” CGNTV.
65 “CGNTV,” CGNTV; “CGNTV,” CGNTV Japan; “CGNTV SOON,” YouTube, ; “SOON CGNTV,” YouTube, .
66 “View Ridge,” CGN Today, .
67 Hahm, 2021.
68 Jennings, “Missional Missions,” 29.
69 Hahm, 2021.
70 Oliver Skinner, “Blog – The Complete History of Podcasts,” Voices, 2020, accessed May 20, 2021, .
71 “English Bible Story,” Apple Podcasts, 2005, .
72 “About CGNTV – History,” CGNTV.
73 “About CGNTV – City Hall Guide – Cable,” CGNTV, .
74 “About CGNTV – City Hall Guide – IPTV,” CGNTV, ; “About CGNTV – History,” CGNTV.
75 Stephen Silver, “The story of the original iPhone, that nobody thought was possible,” ai, ; “About CGNTV – History,” CGNTV.
76 “CGNTV,” Twitter, .
77 “CGNTV – About,” YouTube, ; “CGNTV,” Facebook, ; “CGNTV,” Instagram, .
78 “CGN Journal,” CGNTV Japan, .
79 “About CGNTV – PR Center – Magazine,” CGNTV, .
80 “5 Things You Need to Know About Over The Top Services,” MTC, .
81 Photos from “CGNTV,” CGNTV, and “About CGNTV – Directions,” CGNTV, .
82 “New Parenting Platform for the Era of Non-Face-to-Face worship | Viewing Content, Falling into the Gospel ‘Fongdang’,” YouTube, ; “CGNTV Support – CGN Story – Christian OTT Service <Fongdang>,” CGNTV, .
83 “ ‘Fondang’ online briefing session 210204,” YouTube, .
84 “fondant Introduction,” CGNTV fondant, .
85 “fondant Introduction,” CGNTV fondant.
86 Dong-yo, “[Children’s song karaoke room] Fondant Fondant-Sing together No. KY4614,” YouTube, 2015, .
87 Hahm, 2021.
88 Jennings, “Missional Missions,” 38–40.
89 Jae-hoon Lee, “About Us – Chief Director – Pathway for Gospel, CGNTV,” CGNTV, .
90 “fondant Introduction,” CGNTV fondant.
91 Hahm, 2021.
93 “CGNTV Support – Sponsorship Information,” CGNTV, .
94 “CGNTV Support – Run! Fondant,” CGNTV, .
95 “GOODTV,” GOODTV, .
96 Hahm, 2021.
98 “About CGNTV – Organization,” CGNTV, .
99 Hahm, 2021.
100 Hong-joo Kim, OC Mission 2000 HQ Director, electronic correspondence, May 2021.
101 Jennings, “Missional Missions,” 35–38; Kim, 2021.
102 “About CGNTV – Organization,” CGNTV, .
103 Hahm, 2021.
104 Moon, 196–97; emphases mine.
105 Jennings, “Missional Missions,” 39.
106 Hahm, 2021.