Sunday, April 26

Random thoughts on Korea

We've been in South Korea for three full days (and head back to Guam tomorrow). So, I'm now pretty much an expert on all things Korean. Here is how I'm sizing up this place:

Koreans have a genetic stampede instinct. Anytime they get near a bus or metro stop they break into a run, which causes all others to attempt to over-take them. It doesn't make much sense because you never have to wait long for another train.

The metro train system pretty much goes everywhere, runs every three minutes, and is almost always packed with wall-to-wall people -- literally. Anyone whose primary experience in mass-transit is American will consider this to be one of the great wonders of the world.

O, and it costs about $1 to ride the train -- a little more if you're going a distance. A comparable distance on BART in the SF Bay Area would be about $3+ -- and you'd spend a long time standing around waiting for a train.

The fully equipped Korean is never alone on the train -- he or she (regardless of age) is plugged into an MP3 player, a portable television, or a cell phone. They don't engage in loud obnoxious phone conversations -- the kind of which people in other places (which I shall not name) tend to do. Perhaps with so many people packed together it would be hard to hear anything, anyway. They're more likely to be texting and I'm sure that they're all going to have carpel tunnel issues by the time they're 35.

Koreans have more of a sweet-tooth than Americans. Even the pizza is sweeter.

Soooo many young adults! Everywhere!

Attire is diverse -- somewhat distinctive -- not as much influence from the global urban grunge movement. I've only seen one sideways baseball cap the whole time I've been here -- probably a foreigner.

We worshiped with an English speaking congregation this afternoon -- over 300 people packed into a second floor office building with two narrow stairways at each end. Pray for God's protection on this congregation. I can't imagine that the assemble space would meet the fire codes in any US municipality.

People here smoke way too much.

In the 1960's our family sponsored a World Vision child from Korea. (He actually toured with the WV children's choir at one point so we got to meet up with him a couple of times. And he spent a night in our home once.) Things have changed, though. Korea is prospering and World Vision Korea now enlists Koreans to sponsor children in impoverished places around the world.

While I've always enjoyed Koreans, Korea was never high on my list of places I'd like to visit. But it is now high on my list of places to which I'd like to return.
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