Yeswhonim (Jesus in Korean) :The Video!

After a long editing process and a love/hate relationship with Adobe Premiere Elements the film is finally edited and I am happy to present to you Yeswhonim (Jesus in Korean)

<p><a href=”″>Yeswhonim? (Jesus in Korean)</a> from <a href=”″>Annabelle Spooner</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>



One of the most profound things I learnt from last term’s Visual Anthropology Theory module and the films we watched was how sound in a film is really just as important as the images.
Films such as David MacDougall’s Schoolscapes where multiple dimensions of visual and auditory representations of space are created to make the viewer feel involved in the daily life of the people on film. Simon Feld’s A Rainforest Acoustemology is one of the most powerful insights into the importance of sound in the constitution of ideas of personhood. His experiences of recording the rainforest environment in which the Kaluli people of the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea live, reveal the depth of which anthropologists can appreciate sounds to better understand a place and the knowledge systems of people.

A visual representation of sound
(Dr John Wynne of the Sound Arts department and the CRiSAP Research Centre at LCC)

A central aspect of Korean church services is a soundscape which often begins in silence and speech which accumulates into contemporary Christian ballad-style hymns that have the power to evoke deep emotions that often move people to tears. These sounds then progress into vocalised prayers which sometimes involves shouting and crying, biblical readings spoken in unison and for a large proportion of time the pastor’s voice speaks alone. There are crescendos and fluctuations in sound that are typical to a Sunday service and indicate particular stages in a ritualised process. Sound is an uncontrollable and unexpected sense and I have tried to portray the significance of sound through various shots where people’s bodies are reacting to sound.

Here’s an example of an emotive hymn at a church service in Korea:

Some Sound reading:

Nicholas Harkness
Songs of Seoul: An Ethnography of Voice and Voicing in Christian South Korea (2013)

Feld, S. 2003. A Rainforest Acoustemology. In The Auditory Culture Reader (eds.) M.Bull & L. Back. Oxford: Berg.

Religion in South Korea

Christianity accounts for nearly one third of religious identification, with the number of Christians doubling between the 1990’s and 2000’s. South Korea’s rapid economic growth in the 1960’s and 1970’s created by policies of export-oriented industrialization, a strong alliance with the United States continued and social values of a strong work-ethic arising from Confucian principles all affected a combined perception of Christianity with modernisation and aspirations of the Middle Class. In recent years the growth of Protestantism has slowed, however, perhaps due to scandals involving church leadership and conflict among various sects, as well as what some perceive as overly-zealous missionary work.
I have always encountered a juxtaposition of opinions towards Korean churches by church goers and non-church goers in the London Korean community. Some people believe that the Church is a great place, where people can become part of a religious family and help to spread God’s message. Other people are sceptical about how much Church really is about worship or a space to measure a person’s social status. These people are disillusioned by the way that the big, passionate, evangelical Protestant churches that exists in South Korea and have spread their wings to places like London owe their success to capitalist exploits, investments and commercial advertising.


Buddhism accounts for just under a third of religion in Korea and my Korean family is predominantly Buddhist. I can remember long hikes with my grandparents to visit sacred temples high up in the mountains when I was a child. Buddhism in Korea is a mixture of Buddhist values, cultural superstitions and shamanism. My grandparents would often call monks to their house to see if any bad spirits were residing. One time, a monk advised my grandmother that if her bathroom door had been built a few inches to the right of where it was the ‘feng shui’ of the room would have been completely thrown off balance, and a portal to would have been open for bad spirits to enter the house from the spirit-world. It was a good thing the door was where it was then.
My grandmother has many stories concerning spirits and consultations with shamans but perhaps I’ll save those for another blog.

I found this quite interesting:


Australian Korean Christianity

I am participating in an anthropological project. The goal is to make an ethnographical film, and I have chosen to make mine about the Korean Community in London. Growing up as a daughter of a South Korean mother and an English father I had always been interested in the cultural differences between the two halves of my families.
I began to find the notion of religion in migrant communities particular interesting after visiting my Korean aunt in North Australia who had emigrated out there a year before. My aunt has been a Christian for most of her adult life so she found comfort in her new church, where she could practice and worship as she had been doing in Korea.
It became apparent to me, however that worship was not the only reason why my aunt went to church or why the people who I’d met at the church attended the weekly service. In a town 150,000 people and only 400 Koreans belonging to the community was an important part of getting-by for most people. It was through networks like the Church that people could organise baby-sitters while they were working, or found translators that could speak on the phone to Electricity and Gas companies for them. The church was more than a space for worship, it was a space to form relationships and friendships and to have a communal lunch each Sunday.
Sitting through the Sunday service with my aunt and her family, I also noticed how Korean churches tend to be formed of different components to churches I have experienced in the UK. For instance the full cooked lunch of Korean food each Sunday afternoon where members of the church community take it in turns to provide food and clean the community hall afterwards. During lunch, the congregation splits into their “home-teams” that are assigned to each new member of the church by the Pastor. Each team has an agenda, such as the Study-group Team, or the Events Team where church duties are shared amongst all team members.
This is not something I or my aunt had experienced in other Korean churches but it seemed to work very well in sharing out the responsibilities of the congregation.

It was interesting to see how well my aunt and her new family were adapting to their new lives in Australia and to hear stories of success and troubles in their work-lives, with the new language and their teenage son’s integration into the Australian education system.  This was the inspiration to see London’s Korean migrant-community in a comparable light to the Korean community in Cairns. I wanted to see if the same issues that my aunt was encountering applied in the UK, or if the practice of Christianity in the UK by Korean immigrants is a totally different story.

cairnsselfie  Emmanuel Church Cairns


*note: ‘Yesunim’ means Jesus, in Korean*
Knock knock
Who’s there?
Yes who?

This cross-cultural joke captures how Christianity appeared at the door and entered the lives of many Koreans, both in Korea and in countries Koreans have emigrated to. Christianity now contributes to 1/3 of religious belief in South Korea, along with 1/3 Buddhism and 1/3 atheism.

This blog will be used as a space to present my explorations of religion in London’s Christian Korean Community. I hope to explore what it means to be a Christian Korean person living in the United Kingdom, and why joining a church is appealing for new migrants. Through the techniques of Visual Anthropology I hope to give a sense of space and give a sense of truth to the viewers and readers of this blog about the people that have informed my experiences and conclusions.