Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Korean Jesus


Although Madonna might tell you differently, last night I learned that Jesus is Korean! True story. It happened like this: on a moonlit stroll through snowy Hongdae, the rabbit and I happened upon a Catholic church all done-up for the holidays. The church was unassuming in stature and it had its own holiday charm - most notably in the form of an outdoor nativity scene, adorned with lights and perfectly topped-off with snow. Couldn't have been more purty.

Upon closer inspection, I was surprised to find the following:

1) Mary and Joseph dressed in Hanbok (traditional Korean garb)
2) A little Janggu girl (playing a traditional Korean double-headed drum)
3) A little Gayageum girl (playing a long horizontal Korean harp)
4) A baby Jesus who would presumably grow-up to look nothing like Jim Caviezel without a little bit of help form the surgeons in Apgujeong.

It reminded me of a trip I took to Yonsei University a while back. In the university's chapel, the lobby is filled with traditional Koren style sketches of bible scenes, from the birth of Jesus up to the bitter end and the supposed beyond. But, it's all Korean, man. Even here in this picture of the last supper, dude is likely suggesting to his followers to "eat this haemeul pajeon, and think of it as me", or to "drink this maekgeoli and soon it will be the blood of our children all around." Of course, I'm just poorly paraphrasing Dave Matthews as opposed to King James.

Anyway, I do find it fascinating that racially different cultures are each tempted to make a holiday holy figure more like themselves - even for art's sake. We did the same, right? Historically and anthropologically, the man looked more like this, than he did like the happy white bearded man on the hill playing with lambs that we know from Sunday school. Just sayin'.

Anyway, I kinda dug the pretty little snow-covered house, and I found myself wondering what the wandering Korean wise men would have brought as gifts.

2 comments:

Douglas said...

Looks like Jesus didn't fall too far from the Cro-magnon apple tree.

Tuttle said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/22/opinion/22dowd.html