Monday, November 13, 2006

"Well, there must be a lot of Koreans burning in hell..."

Friday was a school holiday but the teachers didn't really have the day off. We met at the school, hopped on a bus, and went to a temple and another historic site. They were passing out beer on the bus by 10AM.

The temple was called Sooduk Temple and I'll post a photo gallery to the right. Not much else to say about it really. It was in the mountains and I saw some monks. Maybe next time I go to a temple I'll give a shout out to Buddha, but I really wouldn't have the faintest clue what to say to the dude.

Our next stop was more interesting only because of the historical significance of the place. It was called Haemieupseong or Haemi Castle (although there was no castle anywhere). In the mid-1800's, a shit load of Catholics were killed there. I told my buddy Jacobs back in Canada about the place. He put it best when he said "Well, there must be a lot of Koreans burning in hell for that one."

I'm a Catholic and I'd have to agree. I'm not what one would call a "practicing" Catholic but I got R.C. pride. I think it goes back to the Catholic school I went to as a child. I always enjoyed watching my older cousins beat the local Protestant school at basketball, but unfortunately by the time I was playing the schools had amalgamated and I missed out on this pleasure.

Anyways, here's what I know about this place. Korea was still being ruled by the Joseon Dynasty and was still a Confucian-based society. Catholicism was growing and the leaders didn't like it so they'd torture and kill Catholics.

During the great persecution of 1866, so many of us awaited execution that the killing process had to be changed. At first,Christians were crushed to death individually under huge stones. Others were hanged from a large tree,which still stands inside the fortress. They'd hang some of us by wires from our hair. The wire marks can still be seen on the tree today.

The italicized section below is from some website I found. Skip it if you want.

With the collapse of the central power in China and Japan' s opening to the West in the 1850s, the Western influence in Korea was imminent and unavoidable. In fact, between 1866 and 1871 Korea faced invasions from three military powers: the Russian Empire, France, and the United States.

With the impending Russian invasion in 1866, two Catholic leaders suggested t
hat the Taewon'gun should consult the French Bishop--who was still a secret resident--on the proper course of action, i.e., forming a triple alliance between England, France and Korea. The Prince Regent seemed open to this suggestion at first, but the anti-foreign (or anti-Christian) faction in the Uijongbu (State Council) prevailed and the bishop was eventually executed in March of 1866, marking the beginning of the Great persecution which lasted until 1871.

The Persecution of 1866 alone took a toll of over eight thousand martyrs, almost half the total of Catholic adherents in the country at the time (by then, there were eight foreign clerics in the country and more than 18,000 believers). Because of numerous coastal confrontations between Korea and the Western powers during that period, Christianity became identified with the Western "gunboat diplomacy", and foreign Catholic missionaries, who were residing illegally in Korea, were perceived by the government as agents of foreign powers (check out this site for a detailed history of Catholicism in Korea).

Here's the tree. It looks tough.

Not only did they tie us to trees, but they also tied us on to these crucifix shaped things and tortured and killed us. This is what those things looked like when they had a real-life Catholic awaiting his fate.

So yes, Jacobs is probably right by saying there are many Koreans getting a great tan South of heaven.

After all of that excitement things took a turn for the worse. We got on the bus and went to the Korean coast to eat seafood. There was only one problem for me; they eat their fish raw and some of it is actually still moving.

For real.

I read about this before I came here so I was mentally prepared, knowing that at one point or another I would have to eat something that was still moving.

Those red things in the middle (I dunno what they were but they looked like some type of octopus "leg" or some shit) were expanding and contracting and pulsating all over that green shit.

I tried one and that was enough.

It didn't really taste bad but the texture was too chewy. I quickly drank a shot of soju to wash away any remnants that may have still been in my mouth.

The next plate that was brought out had about 5 different raw fish on it. The Principal saw that I wasn't eating any of it so he ordered me a cooked fish, head and all, and it was great. He even ordered one for himself, maybe so I wouldn't feel like such a wimp, I dunno.

Then we headed out to another room and grilled some clams.

The guy to my left is one of the maintenance guys at my school. He was getting good and drunk by now. When we left the main table to come out here he stole a bottle of wine from the table and put it in his coat. That's my kinda dude.

His wife is from the Philippines and speaks English, so he could (barely) speak a little himself.

The two girls are grade five teachers. Pretty girls. The one on my left is only 22 years old and she's a homeroom teachers. I got respect for that.

When I was 22 I can't really picture myself in those shoes. Heck, I can't even see myself in those shoes now.

And oh yeah, had to add this photo. This was one of the displays at the R.C. killing fields.

Us Catholics always get the last laugh...

No comments: