Exterior Photograph of Myongdong Cathedral
Yesterday Ian was working all day, and I had all day to myself. So, I went exploring. I followed my guide's map from the LTRC new teacher's walk-about the other day, and found the place where the "ho docks" (or whatever they are called), are made, fresh. I ate two. They are so good! I forgot to mention that there is some kind of jam or honey in them, which means that your mouth doesn't dry out when eating the crunchy bread. Mmmm!! On the way back, I followed a sign and a passerby's directions to Myongdong Cathedral, which I had wanted to visit for several days. And so I get to answer cousin Jennifer's question about temples and churches. I haven't yet been to any other sacred places, but I do intend to, and I pass by everyday a Buddhist temple that is only three minutes from my apartment.
Myongdong Cathedral is a Catholic Cathdral, and accordingly looks beautiful:
Myongdong Cathedral, Interior
It's a bit of a work-style structure, as the wealth of Medieval Europe couldn't be pored into its construction. Nevertheless, it could have compared favorably with many Torontonian churches, like St. Patrick's on McCaul St., or Knox Church on Spadina. The grey tones inside reminded me of Notre Dame in Paris, but the roof wasn't as high. But the vaulted ribbing was still there. The building is red brick on the outside, and grey brick on the inside. The lighting is more than sufficient, and the stained glass is beautiful.
There is a brilliant, crimson carpet at the far end of the nave where the altar is. I arrived just in time for sung Vespers (in very decent syllabic [Korean] Gregorian-style chant!), and for a mass. The organ played beautifully. When it came time for the "sign of peace," (for those of you who aren't Catholics, this is the handshaking moment, when you turn to your neighbours, shake their hands, and say "peace"), I was astonished to see no handshakes or spoken words, but lovely bows with folded hands. The gesture was absolutely beautiful, and was, of course, appropriate to our location in South Korea. I was a bit afraid that as a foreigner I'd be ignored at this point, but I wasn't. They just politely bowed to me, and I did likewise to them.
Yesterday I went out around midnight on a short errand. The area at the base of the little alley leading to my apartment was full of exuberant university undergrads, behaving like undergrads anywhere, although there was less shouting. On the streets I found (to my stomach's dismay), that Popeye's Chicken and Burger King had shut down for the night. Instead, in the middle of the street, were cooks with live octopuses (octopii, perhaps?), live squid, and various other strange and wonderful things which looked too wonderful to eat.
Speaking of eating, I'm going to go eat now. After that my landlord is coming to try and fix the smell under the sink (sorry, Sylvia, I forgot to answer that question until just now). I'm very pleased about that, naturally. After that Ian and I are going to check out a huge underground mall.
And, my thanks to Alexandra, Omid (who wrote twice!), cousin Jennifer & Lyle, Monica, Hyoungjoon, and Sylvia for their emails! I enjoyed reading each one! Stay in touch, dear friends!
Myongdong Pipe Organ and Entrance
NOTE: This post was updated with the pictures because I have had, over the last several weeks, around a dozen people in five countries (the US, Hong-Kong, Vietnam, Taiwan, and South Korea) finding my site through googling the simple search "Myongdong Cathedral." I felt I owed it to them, and future visitors, to provide some pictures. Apparently the cathedral is quite famous, and is associated with various social movements in Korean history.
Actually, I always meant to do update this post, and a few days ago I finally made it back to the cathedral to finish the job. I also bought, as I always do in a beautiful and famous building, a pictorial book. Unfortunately, there were no English books, but for about $3 CDN I got a very nice little picture book with accompanying Korean texts.
10:00PM, January 17th, 2005--NRB.