Nothing much to report today.  I checked out of my hotel in Seoul and our distributor drove me northwest to Ilsan, to the Regent Inn Hotel, which is closer to the exhibition center I’ll be frequenting the rest of the week. 

We went to lunch at a restaurant called “VIPS,” which takes its name from “V.I.P.” but has it pronounced “Beeppsuh.”  It’s got a large salad buffet including tacos and Korean wraps, where I got a fajita of sorts with a big dollop each of nacho cheese sauce and sour cream.  That gave me the idea of trying to make a bulgogi fajita when I’m home.  The fajita wasn’t the main dish – that was a sirloin steak of ho-hum quality. 

As we were winding down with tea and coffee (and in my case, way too much dessert), a table of six arrived near us and prayed together before the meal.  My face must have given away my surprise at seeing Asians publicly praying like that, because my business partner explained that they were Christians.  (That, I found out, meant protestant.  Catholics are referred to as Catholics, not Christians.)  He wrinkled his nose and said Christians are very influential but not always very popular.  Apparently there had been scandals among the priests (which term confuses me, but probably he means pastors and other leaders), and some churches are quite involved in politics and have also gained economic clout in the measure that their “real estimate” has gone up in value.  [I note again my perplexity at his English.  He has a hard time understanding me and a hard time expressing simple things, but then he’ll refer to Sunday’s temperatures as “sizzling” and suggest waiting for the rain to “let up” without apparently even having to rack his brain for those words.]  I said I was surprised anyway that in Korea there were so many Christians compared to its neighbors in Japan and China.  He said that was because of the strong US influence after liberating Korea from Japan, and because after the Korean war, when Korea was dirt poor and starving, US military used food rations to bribe people into converting to Christianity.  His grandmother had done that.  Although I don’t doubt such things happened, I have a hard time accepting that as the reasons for the spread of Christianity, because it had flourished in Korea already fifty years earlier – so my basic question remains unanswered. 

After watching some TV in the hotel (and finding out, with relief, that apparently the salacious channels had been dropped since my last visit) I walked over to the exhibition center to scope out the place.  I haven’t seen the halls yet, so I’ll withhold my final judgment, but so far it looks promising.  At least they have a decent ice cream vendor. 

One thing I’ve now noticed repeatedly are the handicapped parking signs that look like a guy propelled off his feet by a great burst of flatulence.  I’ll have to take a picture of one of them. 


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