Monday, January 31, 2011

The Cathedral And The Mosque In Seoul

Note from the editor: I stumbled upon other people's blogs on Seoul and had that unbearable longing to be there again. Ahh, silly me. Since there are so many photos of South Korea that I haven't posted, I just want to share some of them here:).

There are so many churches in Seoul, I even saw one near SNU campus. One of the Latinos said  he always thought Koreans as Buddhists, so it kinda surprised him to see an Episcopal church or a Presbyterian church in the vicinity. Anyway, when we asked a professor whether Christian was the majority, he said that Koreans' religion was money, because they really worked hard. I didn't make this up, he really said it. After three weeks, I really get his point, about Koreans are working hard.

It is interesting to learn that both the cathedral and the mosque are located in Seoul's hip districts. The cathedral is in Myeong-Dong, while the mosque is in Itaewon. Both districts are known to be the right place to do people-watching. 

I don't know much about the cathedral. Only the name: Cathedral Church of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception. And that's all I know. Perhaps Uncle Google knows better than I do.

Stairways (and ramp) to the cathedral

The construction of cathedral began in 1887

The bas-relief on the door caught my attention

A very Korean take on Jesus Christ

While I did go inside the cathedral, I decided not to take pictures of the interior as there was a mass at that moment, I didn't want to disturb them. 

Ok, now the mosque. Before I went to South Korea, I browsed the internet to find the grand mosque. Seoul is such a cosmopolitan city, there must be a Muslim community, no matter how small it is. And so, I found the mosque, Seoul's one and only mosque, in Itaewon.

Itaewon has a U.S. Army base Yongsan Garrison nearby, so it's no wonder the district's visitors are mostly Americans. Some of the bars are a bit 'suspicious' with girls wearing skimpy clothes coming in or going out, so wearing modest clothing like I do is a good strategy.

I really wanted to go to the mosque since the first day I landed in South Korea. I dreamed to do my tarawih prayer here during Ramadan, or the Idul Fitri prayer. Alas, due to the full schedule, I was only able to visit this area a few days before my homecoming. I went to the mosque all by myself, so no image of myself in the following photos. Too bad.

You can see the minaret, but the mosque is actually still far. It's some kind of optical illusion:)

While walking to the mosque, I saw many halal restaurants along the road. Glancing to my watch, I noticed that Magrib was still one hour to go (During September, Magrib is around 7 p.m.). So I walked into one of the restaurants and had an early dinner:). Nothing fancy, only briyani rice at an Indian/Pakistani restaurant. When I was eating, a Korean and an Uzbekistani came in and then we had a small conversation.

The Korean saw that I'm a Muslim and brown-skinned (ha!), so he guessed that I'm either a Malaysian or Indonesian. He went to Indonesia several times, so he was excited to practice some Bahasa with me. He was in the district because he loved Indian/Pakistani foods. The Uzbek girl could not speak English well, but she was excited to see me wearing a headscarf because she's a Muslim too.

The front gate

The exterior

The interior

Do you visit other religion's house of worships when you're traveling? What kind of experiences do you get? I hope the good ones. Do share with me, please:).

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