Arirang News
  Updated : 2005-07-20 12:00:00 KST
Info Plus: Seoul's Religious Facilities for Foreigners
 
 
It's time for our Info Plus segment.
On Wednesdays, we focus on the expatriate community in Korea, and this week, Kim Min-jung joins me in the studio.

AHN CHAK-HEE, ANCHOR: Welcome, Min-jung.

KIM MIN-JUNG, REPORTER: Hello, Chakhee.

AHN CHAK-HEE, ANCHOR: What are we looking at today?

KIM MIN-JUNG, REPORTER: Well, this week, I thought I'd look into feeding the soul with a bit of spiritual sustenance for people living far from home. When you're living abroad it can get lonely at times and finding a good local church or synagogue, or mosque, depending on your religious calling, can provide a home away from home. Religious communities are usually very welcoming and great places to make friends with like-minded people. So today, I'm going to introduce some of the places of worship in Seoul.

AHN CHAK-HEE, ANCHOR: So where are some of the religious facilities here?

KIM MIN-JUNG, REPORTER: Well, for Christians -- There is a Lutheran Church in Seoul, which established its first missionary in 1957. It's largely comprised of members of the foreign community.
Many other major churches in Korea offer English services, like the Onnuri Community Church, which is one of the biggest Presbyterian churches in Korea, and the Yoido Full Gospel Church, which has the world's largest congregation of some 780 thousand. These churches also broadcast their services live and you can also view them online.

AHN CHAK-HEE, ANCHOR: That's sounds like a good selection for Protestants. Now what about Roman Catholics? I hear there's a large foreign community of Catholics. Where should they go?

KIM MIN-JUNG, REPORTER: I would say the most suitable chapel for foreign Catholics is perhaps the one in Hannam-dong, the International Catholic Church.
Masses are offered in five languages: English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish from nine in the morning to noon and confessions are heard before Mass or on request.
There is one also in Haehwa-dong in northern Seoul, for Filipinos lead by Father Jang Glen, who is himself from the Philippines.

AHN CHAK-HEE, ANCHOR: What about Jews and Muslims?

KIM MIN-JUNG, REPORTER: There's an estimated 100 thousand Muslims in Korea, and 70 to 80 percent are foreigners.
And for these Muslims, there are about 70 mosques across the country but the main one is in Hannam-dong, the Seoul Central Mosque.
There, followers can practice "salah", which is the five mandatory daily prayers.
For Jews in Korea, there is one synagogue, the "South Post Chapel", inside the U.S. military garrison in Yongsan.
But you probably need a base pass or someone authorized to take you there, since it is inside the military base.

AHN CHAK-HEE, ANCHOR: Now, Min-jung, it can be a bit daunting visiting a place of worship for the first time.

KIM MIN-JUNG, REPORTER: I know the first time can be difficult, but let's see what some religious leaders have to say about that.

IMAM SULAIMAN LEE, SEOUL CENTRAL MOSQUE: "We provide a joint service for anybody who wants to pray and gain spiritual peace."

FATHER FALDANI GIANCARLO: "Religion is something that you don't leave at home. Religion is something that you have in your heart. And I think everybody especially abroad needs to have a connection with his or her belief."

PASTOR JACK HUSTAD: "It's a kind of congregation that provides a real home for people who are away from home."

AHN CHAK-HEE, ANCHOR: All right, let's move on. What's been happening in the diplomatic community?

Kim Min-jung, reporter: Well, a member of Nepal's royal family was in Seoul last Thursday.
Crown Prince Paras accompanied by his wife, Crown Princess Himani was here on a four-day visit.
The 34-year-old prince met with Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon and Culture and Tourism Minister Chung Dong-chea, to discuss ways to promote the more than three decades of bilateral diplomatic ties.
Prince Paras also paid a courtesy call on President Roh Moo-hyun and relayed a handwritten letter from the Nepalese head of state, King Gyanendra.

Now, two Korean citizens, for the first time, were recognized with Canada's Meritorious Service Decoration last Friday.
The two were former General Paik Sun Yup and Mr. Chi Kap-Chong.
General Paik, who has served as Korea's ambassador to Canada, was recognized for his active role in the construction of the Monument to Canadian Fallen in the Korean War, which was unveiled in Busan four years ago.
And Mr. Chi, a retired Korean journalist, was honored for his support in commemorating Canada's assistance during the Korean War.

AHN CHAK-HEE, ANCHOR: Any events foreigners in Korea can look forward to in the coming days?

KIM MIN-JUNG, REPORTER: One that caught my attention is the Anne Frank exhibition, arranged by the Netherlands Embassy in Seoul. This will showcase Anne's famous diary as well as a replica of the place where she hid from the Nazis during Hitler's persecution of the Jews.

Another interesting event that's been a big hit among foreigners is the annual mud festival in Boryeong. If you're a foreign national, you'll receive complimentary mud cosmetics and round-trip bus tickets to nearby tourist attractions.

AHN CHAK-HEE, ANCHOR: I've heard rave reviews about that mud mask! Sounds like fun. Thanks for that report Min-jung.

KIM MIN-JUNG, REPORTER: Thanks for having me.
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