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 http://emergingquaker.blogspot.com/.

  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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Thank you, Brooklyn, for the reminder. Umm, @jlin7 is a Christian but he wasn't very Christlike with me on the basketball court. He muscled me into the paint, dunked on me, mentioned my momma, and then said, "Stick with preaching." Just kidding. Kind of.

If you haven't heard, Jeremy Lin is donating his one games wages (approximately $140,000) and an additional $100 for every 3 pointer made to support Girls' Empowerment and Education through @onedayswages. That game is this Friday vs the Boston Celtics!

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The answer to who you serve makes all the difference... It's the day after International Women's Day - and it's still important to celebrate the contribution of women in our lives, society, and world. As we honor women all around the world, I'm also reminded of how women and children are those who are most deeply impacted by injustice - especially poverty.

Sadly, I have witnessed this reality in too many places. ​In 2012, I traveled to a remote area in Eastern Kenya as part of a @onedayswages response to a famine that struck the Horn of Africa region. This famine impacted nearly 13 million people and according to some sources, took the lives of about 250,000 people. During my trip there, I had the chance of meeting many people but the person that still remains in my memory was a Muslim woman named Sahara.

She was so hospitable in inviting us to her small and temporary home. During our conversation, I learned that ​Sahara traveled 300 kilometers (a little under 200 miles) – some by cart and some by foot – as they sought to escape the worst drought that has impacted East Africa (Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia) in the past 60 years.

This is not a misprint.
200.

She traveled about 200 miles on cart and foot. ​And all along, she was ill. If you look closely ​at the photo, you might notice the large lump in her throat - likely a large cancerous tumor.​ She did not travel alone. She traveled with her husband who I was not able to meet because he was staying with one of his five other wives in this polygamist community.  She did not travel alone. She also traveled with her six children – the youngest being about 1 and the oldest being around 8. She had just given birth to her sixth child when they began her journey. Her youngest was severely malnourished when they arrived to this new settlement in a town called Benane. 
Sahara and her children all survived this journey. They survived because she persisted. 
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Don't be lazy and make assumptions about people. Ask about their story. Then listen. Be humble. Be teachable. Be human. Be a good neighbor. It's a sad reality but our society runs on the currency of fear. Don't feed into this frenzy.

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