Thursday, October 8, 2009

They're Crawling Out of the Woodworks!

Yesterday after work I decided to go to E-Mart, which is located at the same subway stop as where I live except I normally take exit 5, but E-Mart is exit 7 (across the street). As soon as I was at the top of the stairs, a woman asked me if I spoke English and if I would fill out a survey. I didn't want to be rude, so I filled out the survey, even though it was a bit deep for me. She stood over me watching me answer the questions and I felt like I had to give certain answers even though the survey was about my personal religious beliefs. Then the lady asked me to listen to her talk about the bible and I hadn't thought of a story to tell her so I listened to her talk. I listened to her talk about how God is not the father, but instead the mother. Her church, the Church of God, sounded awfully feminist from the way this woman was talking. She wanted me to walk with her to her church and watch a video but I told her that I was very busy and she said that she would call me later. Luckily, I did not give her my new phone number, but rather my old phone number. That was the fourth time in two weeks that I had been approached by religious zealots.

A week before, a lady inside the subway station near where I work was handing out a newsletter in Korean and packages of tissues from her church, which was located at that subway station. The package of tissues had directions as to how to get to the church and the times for their services. After work, I was solicited by a group of Jehovah's Witnesses standing outside of E-Mart. They were handing out booklets about problems within families.

The Thursday before I was solicited by these other groups, I was walking home from other store and a young man who was Jehovah's Witness started talking to me. I kept walking, but since I did not ignore him when he was talking to me, he was walking with me and gave me one of the pamphlets that they give when they are looking for new members.

These were not the only times that I have been solicited to join a church here, but the other times were spread out. Because I live in a big city here, I've had more experience with religious zealots here than I had in America. All these people who have given me information or had a conversation with me about their religion were Koreans. Most of them assume that I speak English, but a couple of them have asked. Sometimes I feel tempted to pretend that I don't speak English. I once told my South African friend that he should pretend that he does not understand English and then start speaking Afrikaans.

One time, I was waiting for the subway to come and when it did, there was a Mormon missionary sitting in the train and he saw me and waved. Since I didn't want to appear rude, I waved back. Then, when I got on the train, I went to the other end of the train car to sit because I didn't want to sit by him. That is the most communication that I have had with any foreign missionaries. The other times that I have seen Mormons, either they chose to not talk to me or I made sure that they did not see me.


Anonymous said...

You probably knew this already but your blog was cited in this website:

Congrats :).

By the way my name is Wonsun and I am a computer science graduate student living in the US.

One comment.. the list of Korean words you learned from your friends is very fun to read but contains some errors.

밉상 refers more often to a person's actions rather than his/her facial features. Specifically actions that cause aversion to other people.

미친 is an adjective rather than a noun. And yes it does mean crazy. A crazy person would be called 미친놈 or 미친년 depending on gender but should be used with care since these are strong words.

바보 is a noun rather than an adjective and does not mean crazy. It refers to a stupid, dumb person.. as in deficient in intelligence. But this word can take on many meanings depending on the situation. It can also mean lacking in wisdom rather than intelligence. It can even have positive connotations. Since intelligence is often associated with cleverness and slyness, being a 바보 in some situations means you are pure of heart. Maybe this explanation confuses you more.. but it is a word that is used often and worth learning more about :).

지우게 is not the correct spelling. 지우개 is the correct form.

I like your blog. Hope you have fun in Busan and learning Korean :).

Anonymous said...

Ah.. to comment about your original post, two strategies are suggested (coming from a Christian):

1) If you are not a Christian and interested in attending church, your safest bet would be to ask a Christian friend that you trust to suggest a respected church. The thing is.. while a small minority, some institutions that claim to be Christian churches are not at all what they claim to be. And these churches tend to be the ones which are more aggressive with their methodologies since their goal lies not in saving an individual's soul but expanding their membership for whatever purpose. They do not care about the long term negative effects their methods might have in a person's mind about Christianity in general. So, if you really want start attending a good church, you have to be more proactive. If you don't have Christian friends, say.. go to the local CCC chapter and ask them. And, of course, if you are going to spend time there every Sunday, it should be worth the effort.

2) If you are a Christian, then just tell them from the beginning that you are a Christian. If they still keep nagging you after that you can safely assume they have ulterior motives (such as initiating you into their own religion which is very likely an adulterated version of Christianity) and ignore them without worrying about being rude. Staying any longer would just be wasting each other's time. That survey is probably a ploy to draw you in anyway rather than useful in itself. Unless you have time to argue with them and make them come to their senses of course.