Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Myeongdong Cathedral and a French-speaking Korean Nun

Prior to visiting the Christmas lights around the shopping area of Myeongdong, I visited the Myeongdong Cathedral. The Catholic church was established at the site in 1784. With its brick, Gothic style, the Cathedral (built in 1898) is a stark contrast to the modern, commercial area around it. 
During the 1970's and 1980's, the Myeongdong Cathedral was a focal point for the democratic movement in Korea, as well as for the advocacy of the advancement of human rights. It continues to be very active in mission work as well as support of the local community. 

As the first church in Korea that is built in the Gothic style, Myeongdong Cathedral has been designated a historical site. Typical of many Gothic churches, it has a Latin Cross floor plan with a center and two side aisles. Its roof is 23 meters (75 feet) high, with the bell tower 45 meters (148 feet) tall. The exterior lacks any significant decorative elements, such as gargoyles.

When I stopped to take the exterior photo at dusk, a Korean nun stopped to greet my friend and me. After inquiring about where we were from and what brought us to Korea (my friend and I are both teachers at Seoul Foreign School), the nun switched from Korean to a mixture of French and English. She explained that she has been living in France. Although my French was a bit rusty, it felt good to be able to converse a bit - vs. my nonexistent Korean! It did feel a bit strange speaking French to a Korean nun.

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