Korean megachurch and Hoonie oppa

June 16, 2009 § 1 Comment

Yesterday I went to church with my mom, aunts, and cousin.  It’s called Seungrak (sp?) Church and from what I can tell, one of the largest mega churches in Korea.  I’ve never been to a mega church in America so I don’t have anything to compare it to but I have never seen a church so ridiculously big and nice.  The building is humongous, three stories high, and seats over ten thousand people.  During the service there was a 60 piece orchestra and a choir of at least 200 people.  Everything was so grand!


I sat on the second floor because there is a special section for foreigners where they give you headsets that have different channels in different languages.  There are people translating what the preachers are saying in real time in English, Japanese, Mandarin, French, and more.

View from the second floor

View from the second floor

Even though I had the translation headset, I couldn’t really understand everything that was said.  Real time translation is ridiculously hard to do and I’m sure the translator’s grasp of English and Korean was great, but because of the stilted speech pattern of the preacher, the translation came out choppy and nonsensical.  I wish I had been able to understand everything because the preacher is supposed to be amazing.

After the service it was a bit intimidating because people kept on soliciting me for extra donations or bible study groups.  A lot of the times I didn’t even know what the people were asking me because I have never spoken Korean in that setting before and a lot of the terms were unfamiliar to me.  Even though I admire the good work that a lot of churchgoers do, I have to admit that I was a little put off by their incessant requests.  Soon I migrated towards the door and found this crazy thing:

Missed your service?  Watch it on your phone!

Missed your service? Watch it on your phone!

Crazy!  Do we have that in America?  I have never seen that before.  It’s so amazing what a church with money can accomplish.  I know you’re not supposed to let other people/material circumstances affect your spiritual relationship with God but I don’t think that I would feel comfortable in such a humongous church.  I see religion as something that should be very simple and pure and that kind of setting seems way too complicated for my taste.

Anyway, later that day I finally got to see my cousin, Hoonie oppa. He played with me and my sister a lot when we were younger when we came to Korea.  He was so vibrant, full of life and laughter, and always fun to be around.  Before coming to Korea I was really excited to see him again because he is married now and has a two year old son.  Lately I had been kind of disappointed though because it looked like I wouldn’t be able to see him before I left.  He lives an hour away and works a lot so the first few planned visits fell through.  But out of the blue I got a call saying that he was coming.



I met him, his wife, and his kid, Chanuk.  When I first got to my aunt’s house, Hoonie oppa and his wife had gone out to get some groceries so it was just Chanuk and the adults.  After five minutes of playing with Chanuk I realized that he is some sort of half human, half battery powered mutant child.  He’s only two but the size of a five year old and has the strength of a baby elephant.  He also resists all attempts to carry him (unless he is upside down) and flails like a fish out of water when you try to make him ride piggyback.   The cutest thing though was that he called all young women “mommy” and all young men “daddy.”  Kids are so exhausting to entertain.

When Hoonie oppa came back it was amazing to see his transformation.  Gone was the wily, slightly wild, older cousin that I remembered.  I mean, he was still nice and outgoing but he came off as so much more responsible.  Which is how it should be with a wife and kid.  However, the most entertaining part of the evening was when Hoonie oppa would tell stories about Jungwoo (his younger brother).  Apparently Jungwoo oppa used to be quite the hardcore rebel which is funny to hear because he is such a lovable marshmallow now.  =)

After they left I went back to my quarantined quarters and introduced Jungwoo oppa to Seinfeld.  Seriously, one of the best shows ever.  Go watch it if you haven’t!


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