Saturday, January 23, 2010

On Jehovah's Witnesses in Korea

The one set of Koreans who all seem to speak English perfectly are the Jehovah's Witnesses. If you get stopped in the street, in a shop or on the bus and the person's English is fantastic, it's a Jehovah's witness. They worm their way into your conversation with very polite and engaging questions about where you are from, your life, etc and then finish it off with a pamphlet and invitation to come to a meeting or church. Saying you are Jewish or any other religion has absolutely no effect. The best thing to do is take the pamphlet and run. I have no idea who is teaching the Jehovah's Witnesses English but if their language program got made public, I think all of the expats would quickly be out of work. This is my favorite comic ever by Luke Martin over at ROKetship. Go look. No really, go now.

Okay, now that you've read the comic: This has actually happened to people I know in Korea, where they find out where you live and harass you constantly trying to get you to go to church with them. It borders on stalking/harassment. I have heard about many a person hiding in their apartment with all of the lights turned off, trying to be quiet when they ring the doorbell.

People, this is why you never tell the friendly people where you live. Or even what neighborhood.

I'm off to go dancing with friends in Busan. I'm kind of tired but I love dancing. I was supposed to go last night but it was a terrible ankle day so we ended up just drinking and chatting. I also disillusioned Hooligan 1 who thought that Busan and Pusan were two different cities...instead of the same one with 2 different spellings. It was highly amusing. I laughed at the Hooligan's expense for a good 10 minutes.

Hooligan 1: Yeah I live near Busan.
Other people: Pusan?
Hooligan 1: No, BUsan, not Pusan. It's nearby.

...Me: This is why you need to learn the Korean alphabet buddy. :-p All in good fun though and I do have the Hooligan's permission to mock things like this mercilessly in a public forum. After all, Hooligan 1 isn't really an easy to guess moniker.

13 comments:

Rachel S said...

You can spot the Jehova's Witnesses a mile away in our neighborhood. They get dropped off wearing black pants and white shorts. And, yes we don't answer the door. If we do by a mistake we make sure to mention Athena is a pit bull (but of course she isn't). They keeps them away. (mostly).

beckert10 said...

I've pretended to be Russian and not speak English to avoid the evangelical effort in Korea. Damn they are a pushy lot. I've actually lost my temper with a few of them and found that the following phrase does the trick, however crude:

"God opsayo" (which I'm guessing you know means God doesn't exist, more or less)
Said with force, it seems to have the necessary stopping power...give it a try!

snowmon said...

Yah those Jehova's witness guys are so pushy. They some how use the technique to make you feel guilty about myself being an atheist.

lol@ "Hooligan 1: No, Busan, not Pusan, it's nearby"

Alex said...

@Beckert...sometimes I don't realize that they are Jehovah's witnesses fast enough to pull out my French/Spanish/Sign Language. They don't rock the uniform that they do in the states. I will have to try the God opsayo phrase.

@Snowmon...I'm glad you enjoyed Hooligan 1's antics as much as I did. I have a feeling I'm going to be teasing Hooligan 1 about this for a long time.

@Aunt Rachel...They are in disguise here when they accost you on the street, they look completely normal!

Simon said...

I've found a couple of "Allah Akbar"'s will get rid of the local JW and LDS types in a hurry...

Alex said...

@Simon...~giggle~ That sounds like a marvelous idea.

spiritualbrother said...

Why don't you just say you are not interested in their message and move?

Alex said...

@spiritualbrother: I used to try that or explain that I'm Jewish and not interested but that didn't stop them from continuing on very long winded things. In America, I think a firm no does the trick but they are a bit aggressive in Korea. In any case, like I said, they usually just approach you with the regular Korean curiosity about foreigners and then try to rope you into going to Church with them, taking pamphlets and the like.

Simon said...

@spiritualbrother - I put door to door proselytizers in the same category as telemarketers - which means that, depending how I'm feeling that day, I'm either trying to get rid of them as quickly as possible or just looking for some entertainment at their expense.

FredL. said...

All of the JW's are educated, to my knowelge, in Downtown Brooklyn, nexxt to the Manhattan Bridge at JW World World Headquarters. Their printing company THE LIGHTHOUSE Occupies the old NY HErald Tribune printing plants and the old Squibb headquarters.

Our experience is that JW's have been "prgrammed" to deliver the same "message" no matter what. My brother wonce invited them in for a talk, demolished all of views and misquotes, and they still just rattled on. Best Policy- Turn away and walk.

Alex said...

@Simon, agreed.
@Fred, also, agreed. Walking away is usually what I try first. It's a little different however when they come to my table when I'm at a coffee shop trying to enjoy and read (which has happened in the past). I refuse to get up just to avoid them.

Anonymous said...

Its fnny that you guys say thi stuff, when all they want to do is help ppl. Duh obviously koreans are more pushy. Its their culture, not jus witnesses. Saying "God opsoyo" go ahead teach ppl that. So low. Id love to "rattle on" for you cause I kno evry thing I say can be proven with the ACTUAL bible, if thats what u call rattling. If were telemarketers, we'd be selling you stuff smart one....uh the stuffs free. We dont have to rope ayone into anything. We give you an invitation, thats all. If we didnt yall would jus say we keep evrything to ourselves and think we're better than you. But no matter how hard we try to be good ppl, ppl like YOU always hav something to complain about. And whats this about shirts and shorts? Unless you live on an island thats always like a hundred degrees, REAL witnesses wouldnt be caught dead in service with what you described them to be wearing...so thats a Lie. Its sad to watch a bunch of negative ppl come together and support eachother's emptiness. Real sad.

Alex said...

Actually, that IS what Jehovah's Witnesses wear in North Carolina where the weather is considerably warmer than it is in Korea. Of course Jehovah's Witnesses aren't trying to sell anything but they are trying to push an idea. And while many are content to offer you their pamphlet and leave you alone to think about it, many are very aggressive toward foreigners in Korea. Based on your English level I don't think that you are a foreigner in Korea (or at least, not an English speaking one) and thus your experience is probably vastly different than mine.