Archive for the ‘ROK – Rep of South Korea’ Category

Chuncheon – nature

Saturday, February 1st, 2020

We are beginning to explore the immediate environs of Chuncheon, mostly places to which we can walk.  From our apartment its about ½ mile to the MCC office and just beyond the office is a river. This river flows into a large lake formed by a dam.  We also can walk about ¾ mile a different direction from our apartment and reach this lake.  Therefore, we can make a round trip.  There are walking/biking trails everywhere and we are discovering them.  We imagine that during the next six months we will post many photos of this area as we watch the seasons change.  Now the trees are bare and brown and there is a thin sheet of ice in places.

It seems that South Koreans like to exercise.  There are always people walking along the paths—some at a leisurely pace but many at a fast pace.  And many bicyclists. There are a number of exercise machines located along the paths also.

We are hoping when the weather gets warm that we can ride bikes around the lake. (There are several routes but we can do a loop for about 30km.)  For now, we took our first exploratory drive last weekend.  The mountains are wonderful.  And the stop for coffee, cheesecake and tiramisu wasn’t bad either!  We hope to do some hiking in mountains when it gets warmer.


First Activities

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

During our first week we were introduced to our MCC staff and various other people.  The first photo includes (starting on the left); HaeYoung (SeongHan’s wife), Jiwon (MCC office manager, logistics, our “go-to” person), R, SJ, Jenny (MCC service worker who oversees our work in DPRK), Blaine and Rebecca Burkholder Derstine (our “bosses” located in Chiangmai, Thailand), SeongHan (MCC staff overseeing MCC peace activities-with many connections to Goshen), Aaron (here for our first week auditing MCC books), Solga (MCC staff who oversees our Global Service Learning Program).  We had chicken galbi for which Chuncheon is famous.  Delicious!!

We have tea nearly every afternoon in the office.  The pictures included here are not all that great, but we were celebrating Ron’s birthday with some delicious cheesecake and Korean steamed buns (filled with mung bean paste or with meat).  SunJu Moon directs the KAC which shares the office floor with MCC.  She also has connections to Goshen!

Our first Saturday in Korea we took the train to Seoul and met the other MCC service worker who showed us a tiny bit of Seoul.  That will be another blog sometime.

The following Saturday we again took the train to Seoul and attended the annual Anabaptist Conference.  There were 80-100 participants – not just Mennonites, but people who are interested in what it means to be Anabaptist.  There were four main speakers (only the first one was Mennonite):

  • History of Anabaptists in 17th century
  • History of the church in Korea
  • Pastor of a social activist church
  • Environmental activist

It was four hours of Korean with translation!

We attended Jesus Village Church one Sunday.  We discovered that we knew – or at least had acquaintance – with a number of people at the church.  Two women we had met in Laos three years ago when we were there; a man who attended Goshen College in the physics department and knew Ron and who knew Sally Jo from the library; many who knew our good friends Erv and Marian Wiens (from Kenya days) who had ministered here for six years.

One day we visited Peace Building and met our MCC SALTer who is living and working there for this year.  The name of the building has a double meaning in that it also describes the purpose of the activities – peace conferences, forums, education, etc. – that are created and held there.  They also run a coffee shop.  A group of items in the director’s office are arranged symbolically.  They are lined up on a break in the wall.  The top is the North & South Korean presidents shaking hands across the divide; the second is the famous painting of Dirk Willems helping his pursuer.

And during our first two weeks here we had 1 ½ hr language lesson 5 days a week.  The language seems very organized with most symbols having only one sound.  Trying to remember those symbols is difficult for us!  However, we do feel that we can “read” many signs—we just don’t know what they mean!

Chuncheon – Welcome

Monday, January 27th, 2020

We want to briefly introduce you to our home for the next six months.  As you know, we are Interim MCC Reps for Northeast Asia.  Our home is in Chuncheon which is about an hour’s train ride from Seoul.

We have a lovely 3-bedroom apartment on the 2nd floor of a 14-storey building.  It is located amongst several similarly tall buildings on a hillside.  Because of the tall buildings we only get direct sun light in our living room about 1 hour a day.  The heating is in the floor and is controlled by “others.”  Most of the time it is warm enough.  But once in a while, we need our “fireplace!”

We walk the ½ mile to the MCC office every day.  We walk under the railroad and through a market which is held every day that ends in “2” or “7”.  There are several different routes/streets that we can take.  Sometimes we go past Lotte (our main grocery store) and past a construction area.  Sometimes we take the route where we head towards the “rubber ducky!”

Our office is on the third floor of a VW dealer.  As the signs indicate, we (MCC) share space with KAC (Korea Anabaptist Center) and Jesus Heart Church.  On our way home from the office our final stretch goes up a significant hill which climbs about 130 feet in about 1 city block.  We will eventually get used to the climb, but for now we are still winded by the time we get home!