I’m launching a series that will appear on Wednesdays from time to time. I want to entertain your questions about the Republic of Korea and attempt to answer them. So please, fire away in the comments section on here or Facebook, and I’ll answer. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll try to find out for you and include it in my response. Thank you Megan, Darrell, Gina, John, and Elaine for positing these initial questions. You’ve helped get this off to a solid start! I will take on three questions this week and return to the subject next week to get the others.
Megan asks: What’s it like in Korea? What are the people like? Is there censorship? Can you go to church?
Answer: South Korea is high on the freedom scale. The people are generally kind, and I would say most Koreans are pro-American. Most Koreans are thankful for the ROK-US (Republic of Korea-United States) alliance and see it as essential to preserving their freedom and guarding against Chinese and North Korean aggression. About half of the 51 million Koreans have no religious affiliation. Of the other half, a majority identify as Christian (30%) and a smaller percentage (about 15%) identify as Buddhist. According to Pew Research, South Korea is one of the least restrictive countries in the world when it comes to religious practices. Put another way, it’s one of the most religiously tolerant nations across the globe. Right outside the gate of USAG Humphreys are multiple churches (Lighthouse Baptist Church and a Presbyterian church–I’m blanking on the name) are within easy walking distance. I am one of the staff pastors at Agape, a protestant chapel community on USAG Humphreys. Agape is actually the largest chapel community in the entire military with around 1,000 regular attendees. God is doing a great work here!
John asks: How does Kimchee (Koreans dispprove of the kimchi spelling) taste?
Answer: This is a really good question. The answer is–it really varies. Koreans love their kimchee (usually fermented cabbage or Korean radishes soaked in a variety of spices) and the varieties are really different. Some kimchee is spicier than others. The kind I like the best is a pickled cabbage soaked in a spicy sauce. It’s a little hard to explain the taste. I do like some kimchee and dislike other kinds. Bethany is the same way. The closest I can explain it is think of cabbage soaked in pickle juice and Louisiana hot sauce–that’s how it tastes.
Darrell asks: Do they have millennial jokes? Seriously, is there an issue with generation gap? For example, are those 30 years and younger suspicious of North Korea compared to their parents or grandparents?
Answer: Yes, there is definitely a generational gap and a pretty big one between younger South Koreans and older South Koreans. I would venture to say younger South Koreans may be a little more naive on North Korean regime intentions verses older South Koreans. I don’t know if they have millenial jokes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. Younger South Koreans are addicted to screens like many younger Americans. It’s not uncommon to South Koreans to almost walk into you at the airport, on the street, etc while staring at their phones. In general, South Koreans revere their elders and show great deference to them. They are considered wiser because of their older age and life experience. However, this societal norm does seem to be shifting some with the younger generation.