Monthly Archives: March 2013

Lent 46: Roots


National Cemetery for the May 18 Democratic Uprising
Gwangju, Republic of Korea
19 March 2013


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Not the same

Watching movies on a plane usually does not work for me. I fall asleep or just give up from boredom.

But Asiana flight 222 from Incheon to New York takes a long time. Long time. I decided to give it a try.

I went with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I had seen it at Christmas with Tricia and Eric. I knew the plot, more or less, and I will buy a copy when it comes out on DVD. If I fell asleep, little would be lost.

It worked. I watched the whole movie. Some of the special effects and scenery were a bit lost on the small airplane seat screen, but it held my attention. I enjoyed it.

A snippet of dialogue from a scene where Gandalf urges Bilbo to journey with Thorin Oakenshield and the others on their adventure to the Lonely Mountain stood out for me:

Bilbo: Can you promise that I will come back?

Gandalf: No. And if you do , you’ll not be the same.

That is the way of adventures in fiction and in the real world. Whatever else happens, we are changed. The change may be obvious. We may have to ponder long and discern carefully the change. But change there is.

I have had adventures in the Republic of Korea. I have, in the words of Tolkien, gone there and back again.

I have new knowledge. I have made new friends. I am not the same. Of course I am still processing the knowledge and I need to discern what other changes there may be. Interesting days lie ahead.

See you along the Trail.


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Oh the places I want to go

On the way to Korea, our plane kissed the edge of Hudson Bay from some 30,000 feet. I have long wanted to visit Hudson Bay. This is as close as I have come.

The flyover got me thinking. If I had unlimited resources, what places would I most like to visit?

I would like to return to a number of places, including the Republic of Korea now. But for this list, I focused on places I have never seen – places I would some day like to go.

I made the list as the places occurred to me. I reduced the list to ten and then I put them in a priority order, although I think that order might change on any given day.

Some places are quite specific. Some are very broad. My list. My rules.

The list:

  1. New Zealand
  2. Australia
  3. Glacier National Park
  4. Hudson Bay, Montreal, Quebec City
  5. Rhode Island
  6. Victoria Falls
  7. The Great Wall of China
  8. Machu Picchu
  9. Shiloh National Battlefield
  10. A Norwegian fjord

That’s my list. This time. What is yours?

Limiting the list to ten proved more of a challenge than I had expected. Many other places occurred to me but simply did not make the final cut. This time.

Some of these places I will never visit. Too old. Too out-of-shape. Not enough money. Others I may. I may go to some of the places that did not make the list of ten. I may get to places I did not name that prove more interesting than anything on the list. That is the beauty of the Trail. When we set out upon it, we do not know where it will lead.


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Lent 45: Far


Ghost Ranch
Abiquiu, New Mexico
26 October 2009

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Lent 44: Cup


Gwangju, Republic of Korea
19 March 2013

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28 March 2013, Republic of Korea

The Rev. JC Lee and I spent most of the day in the Gimhae area.

We started with a visit to the royal tomb of King Suro who founded the Gaya Kingdom. The tomb is located right next to the guesthouse where I stayed.

HousesOur journey then took us to Bonghwangdong – this historic site includes an important shell mound from the Gaya period, and the remains of raised houses (the sea-line was different during the Gaya period) and a residential site from that time. The Official Site of Korean Tourism reports this was the first archeological site excavated in Korea.

The Daeseong-Dong Tombs Museum was next on the list. This presents information about the number of tombs, probably of the elite, discovered and excavated in the area.

We visited the royal tomb of Queen Heo, King Suro’s wife. Two fishes facing each other is her symbol. After visiting the queen’s tomb, we went up on Gujibong Peak. It provides a wonderful view of Gimhae. The local people consider this a sacred place. From the Official Site of Korean Tourism:

… according to legend, it is the place where the creation of the Gaya Kingdom took place. During the Japanese colonial rule, the “neck” of the turtle was destroyed by the construction of a mountain road. Years later, a pedestrian road was built to rejoin the neck and restore the feng shui of the mountain.

Lunch followed.

TempleWe then drove to Eunhaesa Buddhist Temple. Located high in the mountains, it is interesting to compare the lines of the temple to those of the mountain.

Down the mountain we came to have tea at a tea house near the Nakdong River. We then drove back to Gimhae where we picked up the Rev. Dr. Hyunju Bae. Together we road the KTX Bullet Train to Seoul. We ate at the Seoul Train Station (a Korean restaurant, not Bennigan’s) and then my friends drove me to my hotel for my last night in Korea.

Tomorrow I rise at 5:00 in the blessed AM to meet the Rev. Dr. Lee at 6:00 to go to the Inchon Airport.

See you along the Trail.


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27 March 2013, Republic of Korea

JC and MarkThe day again began at 10:00 AM when the Rev. Dr. JC Lee met me at the guesthouse. We drove to Jinju. There we visited the First Church of Jinju and met the Rev. Lim Jueng Bae. Together with an elder from the congregation (a retired teacher of political science and international relations),we went for a cold noodle lunch.

After lunch we went to the Nam River. We walked for a while in a park and then visited Jinju Fortress. This fortress played a role in resisting the Japanese invasion of the Korean peninsula. In 1592, the Koreans, under General Kim Si-min (who was killed in the battle) and others, defeated the Japanese. A year later, the Japanese took the fortress.

To celebrate the victory, the Japanese soldiers forced all the kisaengs, female entertainers, to join them at the Chokseongnu Pavilion on a cliff which overlooked the Nam River. Nongae, one of the kisaengs, was called to entertain a victorious Japanese general. She led the general, Keyamura Rokusuke to a rock where she embraced him, held fast her fingers with rings that locked her around him and cast herself along with the general into the river, killing them both. The Uigisa Shrine honors her patriotism.

The Rev. Lee then drove us to Pyeongsari in Hadong County. There we visited a home built to replicate the home described in Toji (The Land), the epic historical novel by Park Kyung-ni. The location has served as the set for a number of film versions of the novel.

Our travels next took us to visit a Buddhist monk friend of the Rev. Lee’s. Jeedam, a Buddhist monk, runs a tea company. We drank a number of cups.

Dinner, on our way back to Gimhae, featured Jaechup crabs from the Seomjin River prepared in a variety of ways. A full moon accompanied us, dancing among the mountains, on our trip.

See you along the Trail.

The photo shows the Rev. JC Lee and me across the Han River from Jinju Fortress. The Rev. Lim Jueng Bae took the photo.

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26 March 2013, Republic of Korea

Another late start, 10:00 AM, allowed me to take pictures of the guesthouse where I am spending three nights.

The Rev. Dr. Hyunju Bae picked me up and we drove to Busan Presbyterian University where she teaches. BPU functions as one of the seminaries in the Presbyterian Church of Korea. We had a great conversation with the Rev. Dr. Moo Youl Choi, president of the university.

I preached at the chapel service for the university. Master of Divinity students attended this particular service. Lunch followed in one of the university dining areas.

Hyunju and MarkAfter a quick cup of tea, the Rev. Dr. Bae and I headed off to a meeting of the Busan WCC Preparatory Committee. My presentation to them focused on ecumenism. I shared my experiences as well as some of the ways the Presbyterian Church works ecumenically.

The Rev. Dr. Bae and I then had dinner before I returned to the guesthouse. A good day.

See you along the Trail.

The photo shows the Rev. Dr. Hyunju Bae and I speaking to the Busan WCC Preparatory Committee.


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25 March 2013, Republic of Korea

A late start – 10:30 a.m. – when the Rev. Dr. JC Lee arrived to pick me up at the Amour & Symphony Hotel in Suwon. He drove us to Seoul.

IMG_0561We visited the Gyeonbokgung Palace  – the main palace of the Joeson Dynasty. It is magnificent. We also spent a few minutes in the National Folk Museum of Korea, located next door to the palace.

After lunch, we went to the Institute of Doctor of Ministry of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea. The Rev. Dr. Lee is the Dean of the Institute. I presented on why the Church engages in the public arena.

With two of the Rev. Dr. Lee’s colleagues, we made our way to the Seoul Train Station. As we mounted the stairs to the station, we saw a Bennigan’s Restaurant. “Do you want to eat at Bennigan’s?” asked the Rev. Dr. Lee. I have never said no to him when he has asked me about eating.

The meal ended. We entered the station and bid farewell to the other teachers at the Institute. We made our way to the KTX Bullet Train. We boarded and rode to Jinyoung.

The Rev. Dr. Hyunju Bae, the Rev. Dr. Lee’s wife and the one who extended the invitation to me to visit, met us there. We drove to a traditional Korean house in Gimhae where I am spending the night.

See you along the Trail.

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Graceful exit

On the road to the Incheon airport,
as the sun climbed slowly over the hills,
we watched the moon dissolve
in the gentle blue sea sky and
fade from view,
making yet another
graceful exit.

29 March 2013

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