Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years: Version 2.0!

Friday, May 11, 2012


On my way home from work I passed a couple of Mormon missionaries.  They were busy chatting up a bunch of kids outside an elementary school.  As my window was rolled down and I was stuck in traffic, I could hear that one spoke fairly decent Korean while the other sounded like he was auditioning for English Cafe on Arirang TV.

Every Mormon needs to do two years of missionary work once they hit 18.  They usually train for two years before heading off on assignment.  A good missionary will always learn as much as they can about the local flavor.  It makes it easier to find an in, something the Jesuits perfected.  The Mormon variety expect you to call them Elder, which can defeat their purpose in Korea.

I do have to wonder how a very American centric religion explains itself to Koreans.  Sure, you could get the Koreans who love America and see it as the Promised Land to join, but how can they explain their place in the Mormon world, which sees the second coming as slated for America and how Native Americans are actually the lost tribe of Israel?  Seems far too disconnected to really gain a lot of traction here, but still they come wearing their clean white shirts and ties.

I remember back in the day working at an English pub.  One of the dishwashers and I had a total trash competition.  I was winning until the day he sent a group of four to the pub during lunch rush.  They approached me and asked if I was D, as my friend X had said I would be most interested in talking about Jesus.  It took every ounce of self control to not rip into laughter, which wouldn't have served as I was carrying a tray of food at the time. 

I invited them back to my little shit hole of an apartment.  This was while I was working on my MA, after the wife of the couple had decided to jet.  It was rather fortuitous as I had been toying with the idea of including some of the religious Mormon stuff into my thesis.  We scheduled for the Wednesday.

When they showed, the leader of the clan asked his buds to sit outside, since he had trigged from our short conversation that I was up for playing with the less intellectually gifted of the lot, who seemed about ready to denounce me as an agent of Satan.  We discussed for a solid hour before I had to head back to work.  As he was leaving. I thanked them for their time. 

Glancing down on the floor, I clock that Crusader has 'accidentally' dropped his credit card on the floor.  I guess he really wanted a reason to come back.  I ran after them and handed the card back.  No point giving them an in as I'd pretty much gotten what I needed anyway.

The morale of the story?  I put X on every single religious mailing list I could track down.  Years later, through at least two change of address, he was still getting pamphlets and visits from weird sectarians. I did feel a bit bad about it after, as on my last night in town he took me out to a never ending tour of awesome bars, after which I woke up confused and disoriented in bed with a very hot female.  I ended up meeting up with one of her roommates a year later, which also was a great time.  Still, Mormons. 

Time for some more of the cough syrup berry soju I made last year.

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