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Korean Christianity Paper - Essay Example

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Date Role of Protestant Christianity in the South Korean Nation A country known for both modern innovations as well as the preservation of cultures and traditions, South Korea has a relatively short but rich history in becoming the country that it is today…
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Download file to see previous pages However, the strength of the influence in the clergy, which was once a driving factor in moving the people, now lay down at the side, and materialism as well as influences from other cultures has taken over. Prior to being divided into the south and the north, Korea was once a single nation, being ruled by s single government. Around the 1880’s foreign missionaries started to enter the nation, but was not readily accepted by the people due to various conflicts in their teachings as well as the already present traditions in Korea (Lee 117). Moreover, only some of the educated elite which had the chance to study in Japanese or American universities were successfully converted to Christianity. Common folk, called minjung were still worshipping their ancestors and offering them food and wine, among others, which has been the norm for more than a thousand years (Oak 1). Thus the conversion of Koreans during the start of the 20th century was rather slow and limited. The conversion from the pagan religions of the masses and the Confucian and Buddhist principles in the upper class society of Korea was not an easy task. Foreign missionaries did not have an idea that deeply-rooted religions associated with ties to families and ancestors would be hard to break, and converts would have to face ostracism from their families or suffer severe torture or death (Oak 5). Many Koreans also see the conversion as a strong political force that yearns to topple the government, thus many oppose to being converted. Most of the elite that were sent to Japan, the United States or any other country either as a diplomat, a scholar, or exiled were easily converted to Christianity, but their ideals were not easily accepted by many, and people would rather cling to old traditions than lose their families in the process (6). However, after the great depression of the 1920’s and the continuing struggle for independence after being annexed by Japan, Protestant Christianity was promulgated by many of the movement’s leaders and revolutions regarding the economic and political reform ensued (118). The association of Korean pride, self-sufficiency and nationalism was spearheaded by a Presbyterian Elder named Cho Man-sik, which was a man with a lot of experience regarding teachings in Christianity, governing a school, and law (Wells 828). In order to initiate the economic stability of Korea (which was struggling due to low wages as well as dependence on Imperial Japan), Cho lived in simple house and worn traditional clothing suited for heavy work, among others. Becoming the symbol for New Korea, Cho held seminars and rallies to push the rest of the nation to become self-governing and self-sufficient (829). Making the people move was something that the socialists were not able to do alone. Protestant Christianity as a religion took its own course and development as well as the integration into the lives of the common folk through the subtle intermingling with pagan traditions. Initially, Korean Protestantism was not iconoclastic and sacral in nature, but due to the strong ties of shamanism and other pagan religions, it eventually evolved as such. Also, since the presence of sacred artifacts, people and places was already being practiced, these influenced how converted people worshipped in their faith (Lee 8). And since the lower classes, or minjung were easily converted into Christianity due to the adaptation of old customs, there was an explosion of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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