Protestant Christianity in South Korea: The Dynamic Relationship of Church and State

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 March 2024) | Viewed by 2805

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Asian Studies, Faculty of Humanities, University of Latvia, Rīga, LV-1586, Latvia
Interests: Islamic civilisation; East Asian culture and spirituality; Korean Studies; history of science; German studies

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Guest Editor Assistant
Department of Asian Studies, University of Latvia, LV-1586 Rīga, Latvia
Interests: Korean studies; linguistics; East Asian culture and spirituality

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This is a call for papers for the Special Issue of the journal Religions dedicated to the topic “Protestant Christianity in South Korea: The Dynamic Relationship of Church and State”. From the 19th century onward, Christianity, and especially Protestant Christianity, began to spread more and more rapidly in Korea. Paradoxically, from the point of view of fixed religious affiliation, Christianity (in the sense of all denominations) is now the largest religion practiced in modern South Korea, with great influence in state and non-state institutions. This paradoxical development is relevant from several aspects:

  1. cross-culturally (how a foreign religion forms a new identity construction and also contributes to the evolution of previous local identity concepts;
  2. socially (how Christianity changed and continues to influence South Korean society, which was traditionally oriented towards other authorities, and also influences state-organized reform processes and the legal sphere);
  3. in terms of education (let us remember the important role of Protestant Christianity in the establishment of South Korea’s modern-day educational system and its enormous influence on the creation of the elite in society, which dominates both in state institutions and in business and industrial conglomerates);
  4. in the organizational aspect of the extremely strong Protestant churches in South Korea and in church-congregation interaction, forming a peculiar “state within a state”;
  5. and in terms of mutual relations between society and the state, taking into account that Protestant Christianity in South Korea has contributed to the consolidation of both the official position of the state and the opposition initiated by the society.

We request that, prior to submitting a manuscript, interested authors initially submit a proposed title and an abstract of 200–300 words summarizing their intended contribution. Please send it to the Guest Editors, Prof. Kaspars Klavins (kaspars.klavins@lu.lv), Ms. Ildze Šķestere (ildze.skestere@lu.lv), or to the Assistant Editor of Religions, Ms. Margaret Liu (margaret.liu@mdpi.com). Abstracts will be reviewed by the Guest Editors for the purposes of ensuring proper fit within the scope of the Special Issue. Full manuscripts will undergo double-blind peer review.

Deadline for abstract submission: 1 February 2024

Deadline for full manuscript submission: 1 March 2024

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Prof. Dr. Kaspars Klavins
Guest Editor

Ildze Šķestere
Guest Editor Assistant

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Korea
  • protestant church
  • social relations
  • identity
  • state ideology

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

14 pages, 308 KiB  
Article
Western Classical Learning and the Protestant Missionaries: Revival in China and Korea in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
by Lihua Li, Jingyi Li and Lifang Zhu
Religions 2024, 15(5), 549; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050549 - 29 Apr 2024
Viewed by 552
Abstract
It has been observed that since the Early Qing Dynasty, the eastward spread of Western classics has been in decline; this article aims to looks at how Protestant missionaries helped to revive it in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. First, this [...] Read more.
It has been observed that since the Early Qing Dynasty, the eastward spread of Western classics has been in decline; this article aims to looks at how Protestant missionaries helped to revive it in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. First, this study examines the circumstances that Protestant missionaries faced upon arriving in China and describes the challenges, opportunities, and issues they encountered when attempting to spread Western classics as part of their missionary effort. Second, this article reveals the strategies Protestant missionaries employed to revive the Western classics, with a focus on the utilization of the translated literature, press, and academic institutions. Third, this article explores the ways the spread of Western classics by the missionaries of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century outshone the achievements of their predecessors of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Unlike the missions through secular knowledge in China, the spread of Protestantism in Korea took place in a more direct manner. This comparative study in the last section highlights the importance of each country’s endowment in terms of the method and effectiveness of missionary efforts. Full article
14 pages, 1830 KiB  
Article
South Korean Christian Communities Supporting Women in Need
by Ramona F. Kovacs
Religions 2024, 15(4), 476; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15040476 - 11 Apr 2024
Viewed by 1052
Abstract
Christianity does not have as long of a history as other monotheistic religions and traditional ideologies in Korea, but—especially from the end of the 19th century—its new concepts have had a huge impact on the basic thoughts of Korean society. This paper focuses [...] Read more.
Christianity does not have as long of a history as other monotheistic religions and traditional ideologies in Korea, but—especially from the end of the 19th century—its new concepts have had a huge impact on the basic thoughts of Korean society. This paper focuses on the effects of Christianity and the activity of Christian communities on women’s lives. According to my preliminary findings, in the late 1800s, the Christian missionaries and their newly formed communities offered opportunities for girls and women to get education, a profession, access to better health care, and learn self-care. After the complicated decades between 1910 and 1950, South Korea was experiencing remarkable changes, and Christians were an active part of this rebuilding, helping the lives of those who were struggling with poverty, lack of daily necessities, education, and health care. This paper aims to examine the thoughts and actions of Korean Christian communities towards decisions on childbirth, children out of wedlock, adoption, and single motherhood. This study investigates the approaches of South Korean Christian communities towards women related to the above-mentioned circumstances, focusing on the early examples and the last five to six decades. It is assumed that even though South Korea is now considered a modernized country, the government sometimes fails to cope with current problems, and traditional notions are still strong in familial matters. Therefore, not obeying conventional forms may cause social conflicts, or the decisions are hidden because of taboos and stigmas. This research is based on the publications of Christian communities and involves documentaries and case studies, including the baby box operation and adoption. This paper contributes to the expanding studies on Korean Christian communities, highlighting the social norms and their changes generated by new religious thoughts, while giving an insight into the daily struggles of Korean women’s lives when it comes to decision-making about their motherhood. Full article
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21 pages, 328 KiB  
Article
Institutions and Countercultures: Christianity’s Impact on South Korean Modernization
by Andrew Eungi Kim and Daniel Connolly
Religions 2024, 15(4), 416; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15040416 - 28 Mar 2024
Viewed by 855
Abstract
The relationship between modernization and religion is contested, with the literature differing in how and in what ways religion helps or hinders countries’ social, economic, and political development. This paper draws upon the history of Christianity in South Korea to critically explore the [...] Read more.
The relationship between modernization and religion is contested, with the literature differing in how and in what ways religion helps or hinders countries’ social, economic, and political development. This paper draws upon the history of Christianity in South Korea to critically explore the links between religion and modernization. It makes two arguments. First, discussions of the link between religion and modernization frequently employ static definitions of religion, but Christianity is characterized by oscillations between worldly (institutionalizing) and unworldly (countercultural) impulses that theoretically make very different contributions to social, economic, and political development. Second, in the case of South Korea, it is shown that both impulses have made vital contributions to the country’s modernization at different times. This suggests that the dynamic tug-of-war between the institutional and countercultural facets of Korean Christianity, although problematic for individual believers and religious leaders, helped it become an important contributor to the country’s success story. However, this paper concludes on a cautionary note by warning that extreme instances of these impulses have caused cleavages between Christianity and the Korean state and society and could undermine its future contributions. This suggests that diversity and toleration—a hallmark of Korean Christianity—will continue to be the best pathway forward. Full article
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