A teacher I work with gave me directions to a Catholic Church near me. I followed them with no luck until a Korean family turned onto the sidewalk in front of me, the two children wearing hand decorated felt Santa hats and the father carrying a Bible. Deciding this must be divine providence, I followed them...to Dream Methodist Church. Meh. Christmas service is Christmas service, right? I witnessed no smiting, so I assume it's no biggy in God's book.
The preacher wore black slacks in the Korean style- poorly tailored and unhemmed, folds falling in bunches at his ankles, offending even my limited fashion senses- with a fancy white suit jacket and black bow-tie. He had a melodious voice despite the language- too many k's, ch's, and sh's, I think- but this quickly changed as the sermon rose to a zealous pitch. I didn't know a word he said, but I do know it was nothing to do with Christmas or love. I zoned out as he droned on, thinking what I would preach for Christmas. (I decided on the miracle of Jesus' birth with a focus on the reality Mary suffered instead of the pretty nativity pictures we see.) And then I wondered what the heck Koreans celebrate on Christmas, because I haven't seen a single manger scene all month.* Wtf, yo? And then cue eucharist preparation with the goriest scenes from some crucifixion movie on the jumbo screens. I found this vile and offensive on Christmas day. Oh well, it would probably be the last time I attend church while in Korea.**
I found the ice rink at Gwanghwamun with no trouble. But I failed to anticipate that half of Seoul would turn out for ice skating on Christmas day. I don't mind the crowds, but I would have waited in line for a ticket longer than I could skate, so I got back on the train to Itaewon.
I couldn't remember which exit I was supposed to take, but I guessed correctly, found Suji's, and still had two hours to burn. Luckily, there is a sizable market on the same street and hella good coffee. I got some awesome stripy socks for W2,000 but didn't care for the prices of anything else I saw on the street. Until I saw some coin scarves in the window. I went in, checked out their quality, and asked about the price. W30,000 for the white velvet one I was eyeing- I'll take it! I know you're supposed to haggle in SK, but that was half of what I could expect to pay for the same item back home, so it completely slipped my mind.
Now if I can only find a place to belly dance. Hell, I might just wear it to Hongdae.
Dinner was OK, but I can't believe I paid that much for it. There was pastrami, turkey, ham & pineapple, salad, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and a green been dish. The food wasn't as warm as I would have liked and was a bit bland, but where else am I going to get an American Christmas dinner in Korea? The eggnog was OK, and the pumpkin pie dessert was stellar. It started snowing while I ate, and the atmosphere was quite lovely. The baby at the table next to me had me laughing all evening while he played the "throw everything I can get my hands on onto the floor for the servers to pick up" game.
I decided to head home after that and spend the rest of the evening warm at my place.
*I asked a coworker the next day, and he explained to me that Koreans celebrate Christmas as a western holiday of gift-giving and don't know the history of it.
**Four days later my boss' wife is asking me to come to church with her family regularly because Dream Methodist is where they attend.