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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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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