Friday, February 12, 2010


Since religion (Protestantism) was introduced in about 1880, native Koreans have been the principle ones to take religious beliefs to fellow Koreans. Even today there is quite a bit of proselytizing on the street, in the subway and frequently door-to-door. Jehovah's Witnesses travel in pairs, usually of young people with one young person having English speaking capabilities. They stop people to chat with them on the streets and ultimately to put their printed materials in the others' hands. The Watchtower and Awake are the two magazines I have received a number of times, and every time I find an article or two that is quite interesting. I don't really like being 'disturbed' when I'm going somewhere, and the Jehovah's Witnesses are very persistent, but I at least try to talk with them for a few moments since they do get rebuffed quite a lot for what they sincerely believe in and try to share.

Today two women came ringing my doorbell and they represented the Church of God, specifically the World Mission Society Church of God and they were excited about sharing about the Heavenly Mother. I've spoken with a pair of women before but cannot understand why this particular church places so much emphasis on the New Jerusalem Mother or Heavenly Mother when Jesus is the one who died for people's sins and should be the focus of people's deep appreciation and awe. And today, unfortunately, I didn't have time to spend chatting to delve deeper. They did however place in my hands their brochure 세상에서 가장 아듬다은 말 어머니 Mother which roughly translates as "Mother's Most Beautiful Words" - see for more information. They were also very insistent that I repeat "Heavenly Mother" before they left and said their farewell in English too, "God bless you".

I've received pamphlets, brochures, flyers, booklets and packets of tissues with church advertising on them by pairs or groups of usually women on street corners, at hiking trail heads or other areas proxemic to the church(es) the people represent. Sometimes there are flyers on my door [actually anything posted on my door is one of my pet peeves ... more on that later] and deposited in my mailbox [the same pet peeve]. What I have deduced from people proselytizing is that since Korea has been a society based on word-of-mouth, connections and invitation to events, proselytizing is a way of making others aware of church activities. The methods of placing printed materials in others' hands is used for many kinds of advertising - examples, store opening announcements, pizza discount event prices, etc. and so, strange as it seems for churches to use such sometimes very annoying practices of getting paper in pedestrians' or other people's hands, the churches are simply following a trend in marketing to raise awareness of their church and services.

1 comment:

  1. Almost immediately after I had gone to the gu office to report my new address 2 jehovas witness girls came to the apartment the next day. My wife answered the door because i was just in my boxers. they said to her in Korean, "Oh, we foud out a foreigner lives here. Can we talk to him." She of course said no. I asked her how they knew I was here. She said they usually check the housing registry for foreigners that just move into the area and then they go to their homes. I said, If I would have known that, then I'd have answered the door in just my boxers just to see their reaction.