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Five days and four nights is all the friend going with me had off. We went to Seoul, South Korea and Tokyo, Japan. Three days and three nights in Korea, two days and one night in Japan. Research had revealed that we could stay for the same amount of money for three days in Korea and only one night in Japan.
I had taken a class in Japanese, but only remembered greetings. I knew no Korean, but knew that most South Koreans spoke English.
My friend wanted to go to Korea to shop. I wanted to go to Korea to attend the Yiodo Full Gospel Church. The first thing we did upon arrival was exchange the $300.00 dollars we had prepared to spend into wons.
Seoul, Korea is officially known as the Republic of Korea. It is the capital and largest metropolis and contains 50% of the population of Korea. Seoul is located in the northwest part of South Korea.
Headquarters to US products
Korea is home to many prosperous businesses we purchase products from here in the US. Samsung electronics headquartered in Gyeonggi-do, Hyundai automotive headquarters in Seoul and LG Group electronics is headquartered in Yeouido-dong, Korea. This is just a few of the well known businesses based out of Korea.
Yiodo Full Gospel Church
Yiodo Full Gospel Church is the largest full gospel church in the world. It runs 830,000 members. It has seven services each Sunday that is translated into sixteen languages. When I attended in 1992 it was holding five Sunday morning services. It was founded by Mr. David Yonggi Cho.
Yiodo church is located in the middle of the Han River which runs through the city of Seoul. The church purchased an island called Yeouido or Yoi Island and built the church there.
Bible Study cell groups
In the continental United States the concept of homes with cell groups for Bible studies was very popular. I had participated in a cell group and was curious how it was operated in such a large congregation. The day of my visit we met with a cell leader for the American military in Korea. The only difference I could find between what we were doing in the US and what the Koreans were doing in their cell groups was that the Korean cell group leaders prayed together for an hour or so weekly. They did not study, teach or preach they just came together and prayed for the group as a whole and each of their individual groups. I attended the third of the five services held that morning, but Pastor Cho was not there. It was not until 1993 in Frankfort, Germany when I had the opportunity to hear Pastor David Cho speak.
We went shopping in the Myeongdong Market. It was there that my friend found what she was looking for jade. There in the open market was all grades and colors of jade. Jade can be white, black, yellow and green. Green begin the most common type of jade. Jade comes in many shapes and sizes. They had raw jade, and every conceivable type of jewelry for sale. It was a yellow bracelet made from square one inch pieces that finally caught my friends eye.
Square Yellow Jade necklace
Jade began being mined and polished around 57 BC in Korea. It is a semi-precious stones. Real jade is a cold stone. To tell if the stone is true jade and not jadeite it should be cold and stay cold to the touch. It should feel smooth and like soap. It can warm up, but this should take quite some time. You can perform a scratch test to real jade, but it could damage it for it is fragile. If it scratches glass or steel it is not real jade. Jade is thought to have magical powers. The Koreans believe that it can improve your health, ward off evil spirits, and give you general well being. The Royal Family of Korea uses the symbol of jade to mean authority and fortune.
Korean National Treasure
The national treasure of South Korea is a 610 year old, pagoda style gateway called the Namdaemun Gate. It is located in Jung-gu. It stands 20 feet high. In 2008 an arsonist set fire to the gate and destroyed the top two levels. Repairs on the gate began immediately and took five years to complete. The repairs to the gate were completed in 2013. Namdaemun means gate of ceremonies. The gate was originally built in 1398. It was one of three original gates built in a fortress to control access to the city, greet foreign emissaries and to keep out Siberian Tigers.
If you want to be a monk for a few hours you can visit the Buddhist Temple-Bongeunsa. It is located in Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu on the slope of the Sudo mountain, across the street from the COEX mall.
Things I remember well from my Korean trip were nightly massages, a bad manicure experience, awesome food and not enjoying television.
We had a couple of masseuse come to our room just before we retired for bed each evening and for 30 American dollars they would give us a relaxing one hour massage. Several military personnel, that had been stationed in Korean, stated that massages were the best in Korea. I could get used to having a personal masseur.
We decided to have a manicure. There was a manicure parlor connected to the hotel. Apparently, the Koreans believe having uncut cuticles is unclean or so we were told by the manicurist. They cut off my cuticles. It took a while to get, what I consider, healthy cuticles after that experience.
We ate at street vendors, in the hotel and at Korean restaurants. I loved the Korean food. It was rich in flavor and hot if you wanted it hot. I found the way they cut their meat interesting. We cut around our ribs and Bar-B-Que them. They cut their ribs across the bone making a thin slice of meat with four to six small oval rib bones throughout it. They marinated the ribs in a sweet, oniony sauce which I find delicious.
I tried to watch television several times and the results were the same. The only channel I could pick up clearly was a military channel. I could watch the North and South Korean army marching in formation for hours. They never let you forget there was a war going on between North and South Korea.
1992 was an election year for South Korea. Hyundai businessman Chung Ju-Yung ran in the election although it was the Democratic Liberal Party candidate Kim Young-Sam who won the Presidential election that year.
I found Korea enjoyable; the weather was great, the food was awesome, sleep was exquisite, and the sights interesting.
Two days in Japan
- Two days in Japan
An American in Japan. Things my friend in I did and things I would like to do in Japan.