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Article by Nancy Frey about the rise of Korean pilgrims on the Camino

2020 Camino Guides

Marc S.

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Since 2012: CF, CdN, CP, Salvador, Aragones, Via Regia, Elisabethpfad, Jakobsweg NRW, Jakibspaad.
Anthropologist Nancy Frey, writer of the 1998 book 'Pilgrim Stories. On and Off the Road to Santiago' (which will be published in Korean soon) has also just published a very interesting article about how and why the camino became popular in South Korea. Hope some of you find this interesting as well.

The link is here: https://www.walkingtopresence.com/home/advice/korean-edition-of-pilgrim-stories
 

Derrybiketours

A journey of 500 miles begins with one step!
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdeP-SANT-FIN (09/2018)
PORTO-SANT (11/2018)
Caminho Da Fe, BR (01/2019)
SJPdeP- SANT (09/2019)
Enjoyed reading your work in progress article, thank you! I'm currently walking and from behind attempting with various degrees of success guess that the walker in front is S.Korean then find myself apologising when discover their Japanese. Think the Japanese are becoming tiresome of being mistaken for Korean 🤠
 

Ekelund

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
“It’s your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.” Rumi
Thank you, very interesting article! Nice to read, I have always wondered why I met so many Koreans on the Camino, Korea is so far away. The article explains it very well
 
Camino(s) past & future
2013.2014..SJ/SDC ....2015.PORTO/SDC..2017.18.19.20.BURGOS/P.FERRADA
Enjoyed reading your work in progress article, thank you! I'm currently walking and from behind attempting with various degrees of success guess that the walker in front is S.Korean then find myself apologising when discover their Japanese. Think the Japanese are becoming tiresome of being mistaken for Korean 🤠
On my first Camino 2013 I did the opposite and wished a Korean couple good morning in Japanese only having to apologise when they politely corrected me.
 

timr

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Several and counting...
Anthropologist Nancy Frey, writer of the 1998 book 'Pilgrim Stories. On and Off the Road to Santiago' (which will be published in Korean soon) has also just published a very interesting article about how and why the camino became popular in South Korea. Hope some of you find this interesting as well.

The link is here: https://www.walkingtopresence.com/home/advice/korean-edition-of-pilgrim-stories
My good friend, Fr Conrad/Pius in the Benedictine monastery in Rabanal (we were colleagues for many years in Kenya) told me that one of those recent authors, Kim Nam-Hee I would guess, but I am not certain, wrote her book while staying in the monastery in Rabanal. They are a foundation of St Ottilien Monastery in Bavaria. They have foundations in East Africa, famously in Tanzania, but also in Kenya and in (originally North) Korea, but now with 9 foundations in South Korea. This explains the author’s connection with Rabanal. I don’t think they would be looking to take any credit for the (wonderful) interest in the Camino in Korea. But I think tangentially they could! 😇
 

jungleboy

Nick
Camino(s) past & future
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
I once asked a Korean pilgrim in Santo Domingo de la Calzada why the camino is popular among Koreans. She paused, as if she had never thought about this before, and finally replied simply, “Well, Paulo Coelho is very popular in Korea.”

And from the linked article, hey presto!

But a major factor was the power of the written word by an international author: Brazilian spiritual, self-help author Paolo Coelho.
 

donalomahony

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
"Camino Frances" 2013, "Burgos to Leon," February 2014 - "Frances" June '14

Nick B

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances - May/June 2018
Portugese - (2019)
Norte - (2020)
Walked at the end of the Frances in June 2018 with Marco and Christine(father and daughter) who were originally from Korea but had been living on Vancouver Island for many years. Marco had lost his sight 10 years earlier so Christina guided him with Marco holding the end of a hiking pole from SJPDP to Santiago.

Both inspirational, met plenty of other Korean pilgrims along the way and all of them polite and great fun.
 

elleley

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (16); Leon-Sarria, Ourense-SdC (17), Burgos-Leon (17), Porto-SdC (18), SalvadorPrimitivo(19)
Thank you for sharing this interesting article! As a pilgrim and a hospitalera, I have met many Korean pilgrims along The Way and enjoyed all of them. As a hospitalera in Bercianos I had many offers from Korean women to help me with the cooking, serving and cleaning up the communal meal. Most of my photos of Korean pilgrims have them flashing the peace sign, and as mentioned, found most to be very polite. Wanted to share a gift from a beautiful Korean family, "Ari-Ari" which they translate in English as "making a road where there is no road" (sound familiar?) used to "cheer on teams or support one's passion..." The attached photo is from the pilgrim board in the foyer of Bercianos Albergue Parochial.
Ultreia! elle ❤ ✌
 

Attachments

alhartman

346 joyful days in Spain and France since 2005
Camino(s) past & future
Hope so!
Thank you for a great read @Marc S.
I love all the history and learning how/where a new subculture/motivations is fitting into the Camino story.
And how with each successive mode of communication, the walking demographics changes (word of mouth, books and newspapers, radio, TV, internet, and now social media)
 

jayree

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to SdC 2012
Irun to Fisterra 2013
Shikoku 2015
CP 2016
When I walked the CF in 2012 I met several groups of Korean pilgrims but often they tended to walk and dine together with their fellow countrymen. I think part of the barrier at that time was language. I did meet one young woman who was engaging and delightful. When I asked why there were so many Koreans on the CdS she replied, "A Korean woman who walked the Camino wrote a book about her experience. It is very popular in Korea. There are now many books and TV programs about The Way in South Korea. It has become 'a dream for many' to walk this pilgrimage." Just like the excellent article by Nancy Frey tells us.
 

PhxRiles

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (Leon to Santiago) 2019
On my third day on the Camino this May, near Riego de Ambros near Molinaseca, I met a South Korean woman. We started chatting and found some common ground. She was very outgoing and entertaining, a passionate Catholic...it was like sparks flew, like I'd found someone special. For the next two weeks, Y. was my Camino Angel. She'd start about 15km ahead of me, but I'd make up the distance since I'd start early and she'd start later. It was a game of tortoise-and-hare. We shared special times together, and remain in contact.

A treasured story. We wanted to get together one more time before we went our separate ways. We decided to meet at the chapel in the Pilgrim's Office for the 9:30am English Mass on a Monday. Naturally, I was there way early, like 8:45am. I hung around until about 9:25am, and Y. hadn't appeared. So I went in the chapel and found a seat. Now, I'm completely Protestant, and have little familiarity with Catholic Mass. Mass started, and they have a ritual where each pilgrim introduces him/herself...where they're from, where they started. They come to me, and I say "I'm K. from Phoenix, AZ, I started in Leon and arrived yesterday. I was moved to attend Mass by a South Korean woman I met on the Camino." Low murmur throughout the crowd. Introductions finish, and suddenly the back door opens. I turn around, and my jaw hits the floor. It's Y., my Camino Angel. She sits four rows in front of me, and we're singing "Amazing Grace." The whole situation hits me...I'm in Mass, we're singing "Amazing Grace," and my Angel is here. It's too much...I start crying. Later, it's time for Communion. People start lining up, and Y. comes four rows back to where I'm seated. She says "Get in line. When you get to the priest, put your hands on your shoulders to show you don't want Communion." At this point I'm thinking, just do what she says...she knows what she's doing, don't mess it up. So I get in line and get to the priest, and put my hands on my shoulders as instructed. He blesses me. I'm in a total fog, not believing that this is all happening. Afterwards, Y. tells me, "Your being here personalized the service for me."

I was fortunate that my Camino Angel was South Korean.
 

mguillen

MGuillen
Camino(s) past & future
2019

happymarkos

HappyMark
Camino(s) past & future
2013 CF
2014 Le Puy-St Jean. 2014&16 Volunteer St JP
2016 Portuguese
2017 Porto-Santiago
2018
Anthropologist Nancy Frey, writer of the 1998 book 'Pilgrim Stories. On and Off the Road to Santiago' (which will be published in Korean soon) has also just published a very interesting article about how and why the camino became popular in South Korea. Hope some of you find this interesting as well.

The link is here: https://www.walkingtopresence.com/home/advice/korean-edition-of-pilgrim-stories
A Camino preparation guide has also been translated into Korean and is available on Google as an e-book. “Camino Ready. Backpacks, Boots & (no) Blisters”. So resources are evolving to help them prepare. Lots of positive feedback
Happymark
 

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