Sunday, August 9, 2009

Korea, Day 二

I was on international television today.*

After a quick breakfast of mocha rolls, steamed pumpkin, peaches, and dates, we drove to Yoido Full Gospel Church, where my grandmother serves as an elder. Although "church" describes the function and mission of Yoido Full Gospel, a more accurate term would be "city": with 850,000 members, it represents the world's largest religious congregation (confirmed by the Guinness Book). To put that figure in perspective, here are a few observations and pictures from this morning:
  • an enormous sanctuary, educational facitilies, and offices on an island in central Seoul
  • 171 associate pastors and 356 lay pastors
  • *private television studio for live broadcasts around the world
  • conductor and full-sized orchestra pit
  • music engineers
  • hymns/texts projected on a large screen in Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese
  • 12-story building with a chapel for different school grade levels on each floor
  • numerous satellite campuses
  • translators' boxes and headphones providing simultaneous translation in nine languages, including English, German, Spanish, Arabic, and Russian
  • alternately, there's an entire separate sanctuary reserved for English worship services


After the service, we headed to an aunt's sundubu (spicy tofu stew) and barbeque restaurant to meet my great-uncle and various aunts, uncles, and cousins for lunch. Grilled pork ribs, onion salad, kimchi, fried zucchini, crabcakes, pickled radish, lettuce wraps, and black sesame rice cakes made for a delicious feast. Just when I solemnly accepted the fact that my stomach was about to burst, my aunt presented several platters of Korean grapes and melons.

To work off all those calories, we headed to the Hyundai Department Store in Mok-dong. After a few hours of shopping, we headed to the food court for gimbap, sweet potato fries, mushroom salad, chicken burritos, and fresh-squeezed apple juice.

(89735584 + 89735584 = 2 x 89735584)