South Koreans exulted last week in Kim Yu-na's matchless performance in Vancouver. So, too, on Sunday, at Yoido Full Gospel Church, where the figure skater, a Roman Catholic, wasn't mentioned by name but everyone knew whom the pastor was talking about when he lifted up the country's Olympic athletes in prayer.
Yoido Full Gospel is the mega-est of megachurches. With a membership of more than 850,000, it bills itself as the world's largest Christian congregation, and that's probably right. At the 11 o'clock service last Sunday, there were more people in the 120-singer choir than in the entire congregation of the country church I attend in New England.
The church stands on an island in the Han River in central Seoul, not far from the National Legislature. The main sanctuary holds 10,000 people. Nearby are several church-owned buildings, including a high-rise filled with offices, meeting rooms and banquet halls. There are satellite churches elsewhere in Seoul and around the country.
Judging from the crowd in the designated "foreign section" last Sunday, Yoido ranks up there with the demilitarized zone on the North Korean border as one of the country's prime tourist destinations. Simultaneous interpretation was provided in eight languages: English, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, French, Russian, Indonesian and Arabic.
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