Do You Have Religion?

April 15, 2010

in Senior Stories

I live in Japan teaching English, but had gone to Amsterdam and Berlin for my winter holidays. On my flight from AMS to ICN, Amsterdam to Seoul, I met a kind old Korean woman sitting in the aisle seat in my row. I don’t speak Korean, and she didn’t speak English or Japanese. (Un)Fortunately, we did have one language in common – German – and neither of us had practiced since college. Her pidgin Austrian dialect and my stunted heavily accented attempts at Berliner German (un)fortunately had enough overlap that we could talk.

She was a real friendly one, and apparently a doctor. In classic old Korean woman fashion, she was aggressive and assertive as hell, constantly poking me, grabbing my arm, touching my hair and asking me every question humanly possible. I’d put my headphones on and feign sleep, but this was obviously nothing to her. She wrote down her address and demanded mine, told me her life story about how she studied abroad in Vienna 50 years ago, and all sorts of treasure which I only half-understood. Finally I got sort of annoyed and moved not-so-subtly to the front of the plane, where a dude I’d chatted to in Amsterdam was sitting, and remained there for the rest of the flight. Occasionally the flight attendant would walk by and nod sympathetically in my direction, as Old Korean woman was constantly grabbing her arm to examine her jewelry.

Fast forward a few hours, we’d landed in Seoul and we all got on the train to get to the Arrivals terminal. Old Korean woman somehow finds me and hands me a giant Milka chocolate bar. I smile and thank her profusely.

Then she drops the bomb: “Haben Sie Religion?” (“Do you have religion?”) and pulls out a Bible and a rosary necklace.

Aw hellllllll no. I thanked her again politely and started to run. She was lost in a sea of other old Korean women.

Postscript: My chocolate bar was fantastic, and she’s never tried to contact me.

– Krampus

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

JJ April 15, 2010 at 7:17 pm



Mindy April 15, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Wow, what an annoying woman. At least you got chocolate! 🙂


Joe April 15, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Maybe for her culture that behavior is normal? I have no knowlege of korean culture and customs though so if anyone could enlighten me that would be great.


nyuu April 16, 2010 at 4:54 am

Yes, it's actually quite normal culturally.

Korea was a culture that held the elderly in high respect so (particually 'grandmas') they have a sense of entitlement and love to pass on their 'wisdom'.

At least you got a chocolate bar. Some Korean Christian sects are physically brutal to non-believers.


ps April 18, 2010 at 7:31 am

actually the poster should have had the same experiences with Oba-sans on his or her travels from Japan.. The only difference is the religion part. And Pocky Sticks instead of a chocolate bar…


rerere April 16, 2010 at 7:06 am

Go Jesus!


Katherine July 4, 2013 at 1:23 pm



Duke Fame April 16, 2010 at 9:59 am

I was on a flight from IAD to TPA in 2005 where the sweet elderly woman talked to me the entire flight about how blessed we were as a country to have George W. Bush as President. She prays for him everyday you know. It's a good to have a Christian President for once (I thought all of our Presidents had been Christian).

She was sweet, so I didn't ask her to stop, but there are some topics best left alone with strangers.


Johan June 6, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Hey, I'd have loved to be seated with her! Do you know what it means to confabulate and have fellowship with someone of the same religious feathers?


anonymous April 16, 2010 at 10:34 am

So do you? Have religion that is.. hehe


Kiddy April 16, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Not me.


Kad April 16, 2010 at 9:14 pm

She was probably a very nice old lady. Could even have been a set up to help her grandchild meet a mate.

Old people are allowed some eccentricity. As long as it isn't dangerous, or too smelly. If we don't understand them, that's normal, but you had a two or three language barrier (with a common, sort of, shared language) to work with, in addition to the cultural barrier.

Maybe she was a matriarch of one of one of the Chaebol's, and you missed your chance to be a billionaire.

At least you have a story to remember.


xxx April 18, 2013 at 9:38 pm

although i am not religious when someone trys to push religion on me i try and convert them to Pastafarianism… and i dont stop until they run away, faster than me


Stories April 21, 2013 at 2:02 am

Religious nuts! They always think they are right


Katherine July 4, 2013 at 1:25 pm



Iloveflying February 19, 2016 at 9:37 am

Not everyone pushes religion but some do.


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