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March 03, 2020


The 144,000 number is no doubt derived from Revelation, e.g. Rev. 14:1 "Then I looked, and there was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion! And with him were one hundred forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads."

Thanks! I'd forgotten about that bit of numerology. So now I wonder if he actually claimed that, or if he mentioned the bible verse and it's reported to make the group seem more like a sect.

Is not protestantism associated with the Korean struggle against the Japanese occupation in a way that catholicism is simply not ?

Yes, that very true, but I didn't see it deployed in a way to dismiss Catholicism or other religions. I also think that the Protestant connection also contributes to the generation gap between the generation that experienced the occupation and the Korean war and the so called 'Sampo generation'


I think this is also why Catholicism is more trendy, while Protestant churches are suffering a decline in membership.

This was obviously of great interest to me, and I wanted to see the on the ground feeling about the boycott of Japanese goods and the Abe/Moon tit for tat. This is anecdotal, but though the Korean younger generation had a much better knowledge of history than their Japanese counterparts, it seemed primarily among the older generation that anti-Japanese sentiments have a foothold.

Korea is a fascinating society, and I am greatly enjoying what is I hope a series of posts from you.

The relationship with Japan is indeed a curious one - and clearly it is not only in this that there is a generational difference.
Life in Korea has changed dramatically since independence - the've gone from one of the poorest countries in the world, and decades of effective dictatorship, to one of the world's more prosperous democracies, within a single lifetime. A compression of social change hard to get your head around.

One other thing I was going to ask about in the religious context was any examples of syncretism you might have come across. S Korea must be one of the most religiously diverse societies on the planet, so a place of rich potential in this respect.
(There is still a continuous tradition of shamanism which reaches back to prehistory, is there not ?)

Yes, I was told there is a strong shamanistic component, and in my walks around, a professor at Daejeon pointed out flags that indicated fortune tellers and after he did that, I saw them all over the place.

I was quite interested in traditional housing, so I tried to notice neighborhoods with the standard Korean house, one which is being rapidly replaced by apartment complexes and these traditional areas would often have those flags.

I wasn't clear whether they were shamanistic or Buddhist or syncretic. I wish I had started studying Korean 20 years ago, it would be really interesting to research it more.

Some have argued that the strong shamanistic element in Korean culture "laid the groundwork" for Pentecostal type Protestant Christianity, what with the glossolalia and "gifts of the spirit" and all.

In this article, there is thiss

Most evangelical Christians in Korea widely shun Shincheonji’s 200,000-plus followers as heretics, and posters prohibiting Shincheonji members from poaching evangelical members are common in Korean churches. “Our members have beloved friends and family who got sucked into the cult [of Shincheonji], and so negative sentiment towards them is nothing new,” said Lee Won-joon, associate pastor at Sarang Church. “But anger certainly has intensified over the last month.”

Onchun Church in Busan, Korea’s second-largest city, announced it was “investigating the possibility of Shincheonji’s infiltrating into our church” after it closed following the first confirmed case of coronavirus among its parishioners on February 21. The church, located 60 miles southeast of Taegu and belonging to the conservative Kosin Presbyterian denomination, held an emergency elders’ meeting and has cooperated with health authorities since then. Nevertheless, COVID-19 cases traced to Onchun have hit 32, about half of all cases in the city of 3.5 million people.

So perhaps my concern about the Shincheonji Church being scapegoated may not be well placed

lj, I assumed this post wouldn't be of much interest to me: how wrong can you be. Actually, I found it fascinating. Thank you, and like Nigel I look forward to the ones to come.

lj: Very interesting post! I lived in Korea Town in LA back in the 80's for a bit and the Evangelical presence there surprised me when I first arrived. Thanks for that outsider/insider's view into that part of the culture. My kids and I did Tang Soo Do together and two of my daughters are still very into it. The culture interests us.

Which brings me to my main question that has nothing to do with Christianity in Korea: Do they serve that amazing silky tofu over there that we found at Do Re Mi House in San Diego? Keep trying but haven't found it's equal yet.

I ate a lot of tofu there, but I tended to buy from the supermarket. The freshly made regular tofu (which I think was regular rather than silken) at street vendors looked great, but it was in huge blocks and I couldn't imagine consuming it by myself. I'm more a fan of regular tofu, I like the rougher texture, though I did have the silken tofu as a few times as a side dish at Korean restaurants and it was really good.

On tofu, the tradition of eating a block of it on release from prison is interesting symbolically.
Clearly it's not religious symbolism, but it does carry some sort of comparison with the Catholic consumption of the host ?


Nothing like this in Japan, I think

I also enjoyed the blog, lots of interesting insights and explanations

I wonder what changes the coronavirus outbreak might bring about ?
Communal activity is at the heart of religious practice (and was indeed the major vector of the Korean outbreak).

From today’s Guardian...
Hundreds of churches across South Korea were closed on Sunday as the country battled to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The country's largest protestant church, Yoido Full Gospel Church, which has about 560,000 registered members, held its services online....

Been talking to some Korean friends and they are super pissed about Japan's travel restrictions, which, since they are only for China and Korea and were set out after Xi's visit was cancelled, are assumed to be a sop to Japanese conservatives, especially since there is still no widespread testing here in Japan.


Of course, what goes around comes around


As noted on the Wuhan's First thread, when quarantines are done for non-medical (e.g. political) reasons, they fail to achieve anything useful medically.

The country's largest protestant church, Yoido Full Gospel Church, which has about 560,000 registered members,...

Currently the world's largest christian congergation.

Pro tip: never join a congergation.

Those congers are vicious, and bite.

This is a somewhat disturbing development;

Shincheonji followers kill themselves amid public criticism intensifying

Cults do things like that, in my observation.

(Makes you wonder what the Trump cult will do when he's gone.)

Kill us.

There are too entitled and ideologically self-regarding to do the right thing and slit their own throats, unless thee act suicide might garner them a tax cut.

Larry Kudlow declared: "Baby Jesus on a respirator, may God bless Covid-19! We may not have to kill ourselves after all, or just yet."


America is in grave danger:


Look and see what is going through Trump's single-celled reptilian brain stem, which is smart in a way normal human beings cannot comprehend.


Think with your lizard brains if you hope to compete with and kill the conservative movement around the globe.

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