The pandemic forced millions of people to find a new hobby, and let’s be honest, not all hobbies were created equal. Some made bread. Some took up a new language. Others started recording themselves dancing in public to music no one else could hear. An even more ambitious group started recording podcasts.
In late August 2020, at the height of the quarantine, three Korean American pastors, Eugene Park, Tom Hwang, and Jason Min launched their first episode of Off the Pulpit, a podcast about “three pastors and friends conversing about church, culture, and politics Off the Pulpit.”
Much like the movie Minari, you don’t have to be a Korean American to enjoy the merits of the podcast. But for those who have grown up in a Korean American immigrant church context, the topics covered in the podcast often will sing a special song of familiarity—one that connects the stories they tell to hidden (or buried) emotions long since forgotten. These are stories of growing up in a youth ministry that is utterly disconnected from the larger church while navigating the cultural divide between “Americanized” children and their immigrant parents.
Another strength of OTP is that Eugene, Tom, and Jason seem to be genuine friends. Their camaraderie provides a level of candidness that allows the listener to engage in the conversation without physically being with them in the recording studio. I usually would listen to them while I went for my evening walk and there were plenty of moments where I would find myself laughing along with them or even, to the chagrin of unknown strangers in my vicinity, say out loud, “Oh, that’s such a ‘Jason’ thing to say.”
Ultimately, because the pandemic has shifted the way we consume media and seek out additional forms of entertainment, Off the Pulpit’s slow but steady growth is projected to continue, even if the sourdough bread and TikTok hobbies begin to lose their appeal.