Journal of Korean Religions, vol. 4, no. 1 (2013): Interpreting Christian Missionary Experiences in Korea

Editor’s Introduction
Guest Editor Timothy S. Lee, 5

Every generation interprets and reinterprets its past—or should. This maxim rings true with respect to Christian missionary experiences in Korea. Ever since 1875, when Charles Dallet’s (Catholic) Histoire de l’Église de Corée was published, or 1929, when L. George Paik’s The History of Protestant Missions
in Korea, 1832–1910
was published, scholars have been interpreting and reinterpreting Christian missionary experiences in Korea. This interpretive legacy is being honored in this issue of the Journal of Korean Religions. In it are seven articles contributed by some of the most active English-language scholars of Korean Christianity working today. As a contributor and organizer of a symposium that gave rise to these articles, I am grateful to JKR for publishing them—and in doing so advancing the conversation on the history of Christian missions in Korea, in particular, and the history of Korean Christianity, in general…

Special Issue: Interpreting Christian Missionary Experiences in Korea


The Transformation of the Catholic Church in Korea: From a Missionary Church to an Indigenous Church
Don Baker, 11

A Catholic community emerged in Korea at the end of the eighteenth century but Korea’s Catholics were not allowed to practice their faith openly until the end of the nineteenth century. The official persecution Catholics endured for most of the nineteenth century left the Catholic community in Korea weak and battered, and dependent for survival on foreign missionaries. The Korean Catholic Church did not become a truly Korean church, one with a clergy that was predominantly Korean, until after the Korean War. Today, however, the vast majority of Catholic priests and nuns are Korean, and every bishop is Korean, a sharp contrast with the 1930s when none were. This Koreanization of the clergy has been accompanied by a Koreanization of Catholic rituals and parish life, including the use of Korean rather than Latin in major rituals and a greater role for lay believers in the management of parishes. In addition, since its leadership is now Korean, the Korean Catholic Church has taken a much more active role in such local issues as democratization and protection of the environment. As a result, the Korean Catholic community has attracted many more members, almost tripling in size since 1985.
Keywords: persecution, Société des Missions Étrangères de Paris, priests, nuns, monks, Koreanization

The Bishop’s Dilemma: Gustave Mutel and the Catholic Church in Korea, 1890–1910
Franklin Rausch, 43

Bishop Gustave Mutel (1854–1933) has been criticized for condemning An Chunggŭn (1879–1910) for assassinating Itō Hirobumi (1841– 1909). This rejection of An’s actions has led not only to scholarly criticism, but to a struggle within the Catholic Church between conservative and progressive Catholics over how authority is exercised. This debate, connected to power and framed by nationalism, at times overlooks Bishop Mutel’s own worldview. Therefore, in this study, based primarily on Mutel’s own writings, I will explore the question of why Mutel acted in the way he did from the religious perspective he held, and by doing so, I will reveal the difficult situation he and the Catholic Church faced in the waning days of the Chosŏn dynasty. I will do this by looking first at his background and religious views, then by examining his relationship with the Chosŏn and Japanese colonial states, and end by analyzing his reaction to An’s assassination of Itō. I will argue that as a missionary who focused on spiritual salvation, Mutel sought tolerance for the Catholic Church and a strong government that could protect the lives and property of Catholics, leading him to grudgingly accept the Japanese colonial state and to condemn the assassination.
Keywords: Gustave Mutel, Catholic Church, Itō Hirobumi, An Chunggŭn, Joseph Wilhelm

Via Media in the Land of Morning Calm: The Anglican Church in Korea
Sean C. Kim, 71

Anglicanism has traditionally identified itself as the via media, the “middle way” between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. This study examines the history of the Anglican Church in Korea. What has been its relationship to the Catholic and Protestant churches? Has the via media meant serving as a bridge between the two? Or has it meant maintaining an independent position? The history of Korean Anglicanism reveals a changing and evolving identity. Initially, the Anglican Church was a small, relatively isolated community that sought ties with neither Catholics nor Protestants. But as the Church started to grow and develop, especially after the Korean War, Anglicans assumed an active role in the ecumenical movement, reaching out to both Catholics and Protestants. The shift took place as two significant transformations took place in the Church. First, a new generation of missionaries arrived to rebuild the Church after the war—a group more socially and politically engaged than their predecessors. Second, the postwar years also witnessed the emergence of native Korean leaders in the Church. The missionaries and Korean leaders alike envisioned a vital ecumenical and national role for the Anglican Church.
Keywords: Christianity, Korea, Anglicanism, missionaries, ecumenism

Protestant Bible Education for Women: First Steps in Professional Education for Modern Korean Women
Lee-Ellen Strawn, 99

Bible education in the Korean Protestant Church is a notable strain of modern education for women in the early twentieth century. Not only did these opportunities provide many Korean women with basic literacy skills, but the advanced training for certified Bible Woman status represented the initial steps in women’s professional education. Such professional education of Bible Women, open to women from all walks of life, was an avenue for self-betterment, professional transformation and social mobility. With a focus on theological and practical training, Bible classes, Bible institutes and Bible training schools provided women with heretofore unavailable opportunities to meet publicly
with women of diverse backgrounds and to be taught and led by Korean women. Bible classes provided some of the first opportunities for professional female leadership in modern Korea and thus they portrayed a pattern of transmission
of the Bible both for and by Korean women. In this way, Bible education for women deserves to be recognized as the first steps in women’s leadership and professional education in modern Korean society.
Keywords: Korean Protestantism, Bible Women, Bible education, indigenization of Christianity, Korean women’s education

“Japan and Korea for Christ and His Church”: The Unexpected Success and Demise of the Yotsuya/William D. Cunningham Mission, a Mission of the Stone-Campbell Movement
Timothy S. Lee, 123

The Yotsuya/William D. Cunningham Mission operated from 1901 to 1953 in Japan and Korea as a mission of the Independent Christian Church, a stream of the Stone-Campbell Movement, a Protestant reform movement that originated in the United States and known during its earlier years for its eschewal of denominationalism and emphasis on a return to biblical Christianity. The founders of the Mission, William D. Cunningham and his spouse Emily Boyd, sought to develop the Mission mainly as a Japan-based endeavor, with Korea as a subsidiary. But as the Mission developed, the Cunninghams unexpectedly discovered that they were more successful in Korean than in Japan, causing them to reorient their mission policy to cater more to Koreans. For a time, the Yotsuya/Cunningham Mission thrived, becoming the most successful mission of the Independent Christians in Japan. Following the death of Williams, however, the Mission fell on hard times and eventually folded, as it found itself embroiled in internal rivalries and unable to recover from the difficulties it experienced in the final years of Japanese rule in Korea, owing mainly to its refusal to embrace State Shintoism.
Keywords: Cunningham, Yotsuya, Stone-Campbell, Korea, Christianity

Yesuwŏn: An Ongoing Experiment in the Kangwŏndo Wilderness
Deberniere Torrey, 139

In the mid 1960s, a small group of people pitched a tent in the mountains of Kangwŏn province and began building Yesuwŏn (Jesus Abbey). They were led by an American Anglican couple who envisioned a quiet, twelve-member household dedicated to prayer, labor, and the experiment of communal living. But by the mid 1980s, thousands were visiting the ‘‘Abbey’’ each year, and its long-term household at times reached fifty or more. The lifestyle of this community and the writings of its founder, Archer Torrey, became a popular reference point in movements toward renewal in mainstream Korean Evangelicalism. This position of influence may be traced to several factors. First, the Abbey’s existence and the teachings of its founder have challenged the tendency in the mainstream Korean Church to favor sectarianism and church growth over holism and social justice. At the same time, the community’s message has affirmed the traditional emphases of prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit. Finally, the Abbey’s manner of existence independent of a mission board and adaptive to the needs arising over time has further integrated it into the Korean Christian landscape. As of this writing, the community faces a time of transition, and the experiment remains open to the future.
Keywords: Christian community, ecumenicalism, Korean Anglican Church, prayer, social justice

Contested Heritage: The “Yanghwajin Controversy” and Korean Protestantism
Elizabeth Underwood, 169

In 2007, the Yanghwajin cemetery in Seoul, Korea became the site of a controversy between the mostly foreign Seoul Union Church and the Hundredth Anniversary Memorial Church, formed by the Committee for the Celebration of the Hundredth Anniversary of the Korean Church. The controversy, ostensibly over the care of the foreigners’ cemetery and possession of a chapel built to commemorate a century of Protestant Christianity in Korea, is also a conflict over the heritage represented by the missionaries buried in the cemetery. Though missionary graves make up less than a quarter of the graves at Yanghwajin, the cemetery has become a site of heritage for the Korean Protestant Church. As such, the narratives told there hold enormous sway. In this essay I examine the narratives emerging from the controversy, to determine what they say about the role of missionaries in Korean history, the legacy of those missionaries today, and the relationship of the church to Korea’s modernization. I argue that these narratives selectively craft the story of early missionaries in response to Korean nationalist historiography in an effort to assert the relevance of the Korean Protestant Church to Korean modernization and historical memory.
Keywords: missionary cemeteries; Korean Protestantism; Underwood’s Prayer; Korean historiography; historical memory


조선시대 재난과 국가의례 [Calamities and State Rituals in Chosŏn Korea]. 이욱 Lee Wook.
Reviewed by Kye Seung-bum, 189

한국신종교의 사상과 종교문화 [Religious Culture and Thought of Korean New Religions]. 박광수 Park Kwang-soo.
Reviewed by Pori Park, 192