lørdag den 25. maj 2013

Tried going to church in South Korea, over 9000 people!!!

All around the world you can find the so called Mega-churches, and Yeouido Full Gospel Church in Seoul South Korea, is one of them.

If can hold up to 26.000 people at one mass, and is the biggest protestant church in the world in terms of membership. 1.000.000 members are associated with Yeouido Full Gospel Church.

Last semester a friend told me about this giant church in Yeouido, capable of holding more than 20.000 people. I had already decided that I wanted to experience a mass here in South Korea. And since I used to sing in a professional choir for 11 years, which brought me all around the world visiting a variety of both known and unknown churches, and a good friend of the family back home had asked me if I would be so kind to buy him a Bible in Korean, I thought: "why not try and do both at once!?"

I had some accidents with finding my way to the church, but essentially it just comes down to looking on a map.
I walked from Yeouido station on the purple line, but it can also easily be done from Yeouinaru station (same line)
Walk through and past the park towards the river bank. If it is a problem to find it ask some people on the street, 90% of the people there know about it!

The easiest way to get there would probably be from Yeouinaru station, and then walking with the bank of the river towards the church (you can also take a bus from the station, but I have no clue which number).

Me getting lost in Yeouido Park  

The church has seven masses each Sunday with each more than 10.000 attendants. If you would ever want to visit this place, which I greatly recommend, if not for belief then just for the experience!

On Sundays language barriers and being short of time should not be too big a problem:
 - 7, 9, 11 am
 - 1, 3, 5:30 and 7:30 pm

Here are some pictures from inside the church!

Unfortunately you cannot see it properly on these pictures, but they actually have both a band (normal in a gospel church), and a well sized classical orchestra! This added to the more than 150+ person choir makes for some really good musical additions to the mass!

I am going again just for the music haha! :P

fredag den 3. maj 2013

Cherry blossoms (벚꽃 축제)

As taken from Yonsei Campus

Every year all over the world people celebrate the cherry blossoms, mainly Asia though, which luckily means that it can also be found here in South Korea!

Cherry blossoms: A cherry blossom is the flower of any of several trees of genus Prunus, particularly the Japanese Cherry, Prunus serrulata, which is sometimes called sakura after the Japanese (桜 or 櫻; さくら). (taken from Wikipedia)

Being that this is South Korea, this piece of information is actually really interesting. During the colonization of Korea by Japan, the Japanese also brought cherry blossom with them, and the celebration as well, which means that some Koreans actually despise the festival. Not that many years ago a lot of cherry blossom trees were removed from historical sites here in South Korea, due to the sole fact that it was the Japanese that brought them there.

Despite all this, I would say that almost everyone loves this time of year. Taking pictures and joking around, or going to cherry blossom festivals is a really popular thing to do. It gives great opportunities for taking fantastic pictures, and being outside with friends or family in the now nice weather. This of course also involves hiking - just to add it in there.

Besides joking around on campus, some danish friends and I also went to Jinhae (해), a place really famous for its cherry blossoms festival! If you are in South Korea at any point in time during the cherry blossoms, I would definitely recommend that you go there.

The Jinhae Gunhangje Festival, as it is called, is the biggest cherry blossoms festival in South Korea with more than 300.000 trees, and attracts more than two million visitors every year - just for the sake of viewing this spectacular sight.

Here are some pictures from my trip to Jinhae

The weather was a bit sad, rainy and cloudy, but still a really nice trip with lots of food, interesting booths and some entertainers ass well, all adding to a joyful experience. Personally I enjoy the eating aspect the most. Some of the things I recall one could have was tons of seafood, fast-food of different kinds of sweets. My personal favorite was fresh coconuts with a straw in them, opened as you bought them - <3

I do not know what happened here, I guess the lighting changed every once in a while.

As you can see I am a victim of the weather and having no actual camera, so I will give you some links to how it actually looks in Jinhae during the cherry blossoms - at least how it looks through a camera!


Definitely go and check these pictures out on google! (or just imagine the campus pictures in the ones from Jinhae, that should work as well)

fredag den 19. april 2013

Racism in Korea

Before you continue reading this, I just want to say that I neglected to actually write anything specific about racism in South Korea, since it has been done by so many others, both academics and media, and is still a really hot topic in contemporary politics in South Korea.


This is merely a short description from my friend who is working here in Seoul:

First day at the job was really great, the people I was going to work with were kind, I was highly regarded in terms of merits, I do actually not remember anything to complain about.
After some time I started noticing that they would never call me by my name, but only refer to me as "the foreigner", even when I was with them! Whenever new members were introduced to our department in the company they would say, "and look, we have a foreigner in our department", as if I were some kind of object of pride to the department. I also heard them brag about them being more international than the other departments in the company, but also compared to other firms. Solely due to me and some other foreigners working there.
Also, because I am white, I have been asked to join receptions and parties since it would seem more prestigious with a foreigner there. From what I have noticed it seems like at special trait to have a foreigner as a friend. Along this line, there is also the thing with me speaking Korea. When going to a shop, or in general just anywhere, just me trying to speak Korean is enough to make people go "wow! you know Korean?!". This might be true for any culture, but it seems even more so here.
All in all, it feels like a glorifying yet objectifying approach by the Koreans towards foreigners, not to say that every Korean is like this!   
(this is not word by word, but summary)

Here is a short really interesting read to anyone who are interested in this topic: http://aparc.stanford.edu/news/koreas_ethnic_nationalism_is_a_source_of_both_pride_and_prejudice_according_to_giwook_shin_20060802/
The article might be old, but sums it up really well! Searching: Racism in South Korea on google will also give you some interesting results.

onsdag den 3. april 2013

"Weird" food in South Korea

A long time ago I saw a video with this guy called Andrew Zimmern. Some of you may already know who he is.

For those who do not, he is a "culinary expert, chef and television host" (taken from Wikipedia), and in his perhaps most famous show, Bizarre Foods, he once visited Seoul, South Korea. In that video he tries out a lot of the different food that you can get in Korea, and sort of inspired me to also try a lot of the different, and in western eyes weird foods that you can get.

What I have found until now, and eagerly looking forward to try are:

 - 용봉탕 (Yongbongtang) Turtle Soup

 - 번데기 (Beondegi) Insect Chrysalis


 - 육회 (Yukhoe) Tartar/Raw Beef (pretty normal thing also in the west, but never tried it)

 - 산낙지 (Sannakji) Live Octopus

 - 족발 (Jokbal) Pigs feet

 - 보신탕 (Boshintang) and 개장국 (Gaejangguk) Dog Soup


 - 홍어회 (Hongeohoe) Rotten Skate (fish)

Along with this I also plan to try every possible kind of street food available in Seoul, the cone pizza is still really high up on that list!

I know that some of these things may seem really disgusting and in no way appealing, but I like to just throw myself out there and experience as much as possible, especially regarding food. 

torsdag den 21. marts 2013

Hiking in Korea - Went to Suraksan


Since South Korea is well populated with mountains, it is only natural that people would be hiking, but for some reason it just seems like Koreans are way more into it compared to other nations. Living in Seoul, hiking is a great way to get away from the busy and crowded city life and come out to experience the nature, and this, Koreans certainly take advantage of!

If someone goes to the subway during a weekend (preferably Sunday morning) and takes a train towards some of the more popular hiking spots near/in Seoul, you will be surprised of how many people one is actually talking about. Hoping to actually get some good pictures of it myself soon, with spring right on the doorstep and everything!

Unlike the casual foreigner, hiking in shorts and t-shirt, Koreans will ALWAYS be prepped for ANYTHING that may (read: will never) occur! Be it a sudden snow storm or a sudden change of the mountain hight due to immediate (impossible) geological activity, Koreans will often times be wearing gear as if they were climbing +4000m mountains in minus C, even though the highest mountain is no more than 2000m ish, and temperatures rarely ever gets lower than -10 during winter. Exaggeration promotes understanding.

Seriously though, Koreans do really like their hiking, and they do a lot to show it by having a lot of nice gear for hiking, and sometimes (during winter especially) it seems like it is pretty comfortable, but still a bit overrated in my opinion.

So following the Koreans, we also went out hiking.

Nice sunny weather the on ground, but on the top it was snowing and about 2 degrees.

It perhaps looks a bit easier than it is, but walking up 45+ angle and with only robe to hold on to with a slippery terrain was pretty wild.

Will get better at this blogging thing from now on!