Eugene Cho

solitude for the soul in seoul

We’re spending our last few days in Korea now.  If you don’t know much about Seoul, it is the capital of South Korea and one of the largest cities in the world.  It ranks from anywhere between 1 to 10 – depending on how people define the words: city, large, density, etc.  The city itself has about 10.5 million residents and the larger Seoul area has about 24 million people – plus or minus a few thousand.

In short, it is crowded but an amazing story nevertheless.  About 50 years ago, Seoul as we know it did not exist as it was toppled by the devastation of the Korean War.  However, it now stands as one of the emerging premier global cities.  It has hosted the summer Olympics [1988] and co-hosted the FIFA World Cup [2002].  And yet, with it’s fast paced growth has come its share of growing pains.  You can see it on a daily basis.

While I’m enjoying my time in Korea, I’ve struggled with the density and fast paced lifestyle here. While I’m an extrovert on my blog, I am very much of an introvert.  Some would even consider me close to a borderline extreme introvert.  But finding TIME and SPACE to reflect, medidate, and pray have been far and between.  I went on a personal hiking trip couple weeks ago on a weekday only to be joined on the trails to the pinnacle of Suraksan Mountain by at least  a thousand other people.

I wonder if that’s one of the reasons [asides from people being convicted to PRAY] that so many people gather at their respective churches for early morning prayer.  At the church I served at between 1993-1995, nearly 2000 people gathered EVERY DAY [besides Sunday] at the two EARLY MORNING PRAYER GATHERINGS at 5AM & 6AM.  All the pastors, including myself, was “asked” to be present for the 5am service.  Needless to say, I had to make some serious life adjustments but it was so good for the soul…

Question: What do you do to rest and nourish your soul?  Where do you go if anywhere?

Click on these pictures. They are amazing and convey a glimpse of how large and crowded Seoul is:

These aren’t my personal pictures.  These and more incredible pictures can be found here.

Filed under: family, travel

11 Responses

  1. Darren P. says:

    Wow. That first picture is simply amazing. Serene since I’m assuming it was taken at dusk but definitely shows its mammoth size.

    For the soul, I simply need to spend some time in quiet to pray, read, and place myself before the Lord.

  2. Tyler says:

    Those pictures are incredible. From one introvert to another…I salute you.

  3. brotherterrysimmons says:

    I actually like to go to the city. Growing up in a rural area, the faster paced rhythms of urban areas [especially city centers] have a great appeal to me. It feels good to be part of a crowd.

  4. gar says:

    Wow! Those pictures definitely show off the size and scale of how dense Seoul.

    To answer your question: I usually try to spend some alone time doing something I enjoy like reading, listening to music… even some get some play time on my Nintendo DS, haha. As for the place, I usually stay at home, but when that’s filled with people… I usually just end up staying up late…

  5. Kevin Davis says:

    I love to escape in the music of my iPod and sit in a Cafe somewhere. I also utilize the quiet house during my children’s nap time on the weekend. You definitely have to be intentional about finding though.

  6. Sue says:

    Wow. Those pictures are amazing.

  7. Diane says:

    Amazing pix. And amazing, as you point out, how cities can be restored.

    Eugene, I’m Diane from Jesus Creed and am inviting you to be part of my meme. For more info, please go to

  8. anu says:

    When I was in high school, I would run. As soon as classes ended, I would find my running shoes and run at a nearby park clearing my head and my heart before God. These days, I barely run at all, but every once in a while, I will find a quiet time in the day and a quiet moment in my house to sit anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes with my eyes closed and my heart open to the voice of the Lord. For me, half of the battle is quieting the constant thoughts racing through my head, but I, nonetheless, feel more at peace at the end of this time then I did at the beginning.

  9. Ben says:

    I got love for the Motherland

  10. […] Korea is so crowded as I shared with you earlier.  On the one night we went to a street shopping area called […]

  11. […] dad went hiking one morning by himself.  He said he needed some time for “solitude for the soul.”  We think he just wanted to play by himself.  He climbed up Mt. Suraksan and enjoyed this view of […]

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One Day’s Wages

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The Western Wall in Old City of Jerusalem (aka The Wailing Wall) - from the Second Jewish Temple.

I'm hoping to share a few stories of people that I met (Jewish, Muslims, and Christians) in the Holy Land in the days to come. One of our Palestinian tour guides said to me, "You will leave with more questions...and that's a good thing." He was absolutely right. We want everything so nicely packaged but if we're honest, it's very rare in a broken, complex world...and I can't think of too many things more complex than the situation in Israel and Palestine.

While I certainly understand and resonate with Israel and its history and its need to protect itself from harm, one can't deny the history and existence of Palestine as well. 
Is peace possible? This was the focus of my trip to the Holy learn more about the conflict and those that are working towards peace. My friend, Scott (and other pastor), Mae (our guide) and I had the privilege of going to a Jewish synagogue this past Friday. We were then hosted by a local rabbi and his family for a Shabbat meal. It was marvelous. Incredible. Illuminating. Delicious. A true honor to be invited to his home with his wife and three children. To pray, learn, share, and ask questions. 
What I loved the most was the story of how Rabbi Daniel and his wife rented a bus to take 15 of their friends to the West Bank ... to see for themselves the impact of the wall and the Israeli policies. Some of their friends had never even entered the West Bank...don't personally know a Palestinian. It's impossible to work towards peace when we don't know anyone from the other side...when we don't understand the other side.

Thank you, Rabbi Daniel. Old Jerusalem. So many stories. So much history. The synagogue in Capernaum (Galilee) where Jesus began his public ministry. He taught with authority... Pray for your pastors and teachers...that they may teach with courage, conviction, humility, and ultimately, directing people to Christ - the Word made flesh.

Speaking of, so excited to be teaching at @Quest Church tomorrow. If you're in the Seattle area, join us. A glimpse of Jordan River where John baptized Jesus. "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." What amazes me most about this event is about...timing and patience. For Christ, it wasn't about "if" but about "when." In a world of supersonic pace,  impatience, quick results, hurry and now and NOW...Jesus waited for the Father's timing. He was patient and faithful. I need to learn that waiting on the Lord in itself isn't apathy but rather an act of faith. The town of Bethlehem and at the site of the cave (aka manger) of the birth of Christ.

One of the highlights was a class of Palestinian Muslims and Christian kids in a local public school singing a Christmas carol for us in Bethlehem...just across the Shepherd's Field. Galilee. Surreal to be at the mountainside where Jesus delivered "The Sermon on the Mount" ... aka The Beatitudes. Walking around praying for Paris, Beirut, Istanbul, Nigeria, Mali, Palestine/Israel... This verse is so particularly important in light of all the violence in the world. "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God." - Matthew 5:9

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