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The Daejeon mission covers the south-western portion of Korea. Of the four missions now in Korea, it is perhaps the least metropolitan with quite a few of the areas covering relatively rural locations.
Snapshot of South Korea – The official language of South Korea is Korean. South Korea has a significantly higher Christian population than other east Asian countries; even though nearly half of the population professes no religious affiliation, about 30% of South Koreans are Christian. While traditional aspects of South Korea’s culture are similar to North Korea, the modern cultures of the two nations are quite distinct from one another. Traditional art is influenced by Buddhism and Confucianism, and traditional dances still influence modern performances. Modern Korean entertainment – such as K-pop music (think Psy and “Gangnam Style”) and television dramas – has become increasingly popular within Korea while also spreading to Asia and the rest of the world. South Koreans are heavy technology users, with an estimated 90% of the population owning a mobile phone. Soccer and baseball are the most popular sports in South Korea, though basketball also has a following. Taekwondo originated in South Korea. Rice is the staple food in South Korea, and is usually served with numerous side dishes known as banchan. Kimchi (a spicy vegetable dish), soups, and a variety of meat and seafood are also regularly served at meals. Dog meat is also eaten.
We are still collecting information on the Korea Daejeon Mission. If you served in this mission and are willing to share your experiences with us, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The church in the Daejeon mission is growing slowly but steadily. There are four stakes and two districts and for a long time there were an average of about 70 active members in a ward (about 30 or so in a branch). Recently the church has started combining a lot of the wards with the goal of having wards of about 200 members. There is also a lot of work to be done with less active members.
Missionaries almost always agree that the food is great! Traditional Korean food consists of rice, an assortment of vegetable based side dishes, and usually a little meat in the main dish (commonly seafood in the coastal areas). A lot of the dishes are fairly spicy and have a lot of flavors that many westerners are not used to. However, all of Korea is constantly becoming more and more westernized and so its not uncommon to see people making and eating things like pizza, hamburgers, and pasta.
Almost all missionaries primarily use buses to get around because of how comprehensive the bus system is. If you’re in a hurry, you ride taxis which are extremely common in all areas. A few areas have a subway system that is good enough to get them where they need to go.
The Daejeon mission is very safe. The most commonly occurring problem is minor aggression from drunk men but that is almost never severe and does not occur very often. There has been increasing crime rates in Korea as a country, but the missionaries have not been affected much.
Koreans have a strong food culture. Eating together is one of the best times for building friendships and so Koreans spend a lot of time and money when feeding missionaries. Also a common greeting translates to “Have you eaten?”. Other small customs include:
Greetings: most of the time you just bow. If you do shake hands, you shake with your right hand and put your left hand at your right wrist or elbow. And men and women very very rarely shake hands at all.
Age: Age is a huge thing in Korea. It’s difficult to explain, but basically being older (or more senior in a company, church, etc) gives a person almost complete authority over those younger than him/her.
To say good night: Dream of pigs (or dragons)
To say hello: Are you at peace?
To say I don’t speak much Korean: I speak as much as a rat’s tail.
An umbrella (for the monsoon season). Family pictures (Koreans love learning about missionaries’ families).
Daejeon PO Box 38
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Straight from the Korea Daejeon Mission:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“marshmallows, peanut butter, tortillas”
*What did you eat the most of?
“rice, kimchi, vegetables”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“cow brain, silkworm larvae”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“my native companions were very affectionate with me, which at first made me a little uncomfortable, but after just a few months we were walking down the street holding hands!”
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Korea Daejeon Mission?
“Don’t be afraid to try!–whether it be a strange food, a lesson you feel you don’t know all the vocabulary for, or a street contact that scares you. Step out of your comfort zone. Miracles will happen.”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“The stories we hear recently returned missionaries tell during their homecoming talk are the “highlight reel”! The day to day grind is often difficult and frustrating, “Golden” moments might be rare. . .but they DO happen and make all the hard stuff totally worth it! Also, the way you treat your companion will sometimes make ALL the difference in how happy you are.”
**Did you serve in the Korea Daejeon Mission? If so we could love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at email@example.com**