After the historic summit when the North Korean leader Jong-un and the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in had discussed peace between the two nations, many people began to harbour hope that maybe we are close to a time when the civil war will end and religious freedom will once again thrive in the peninsula.
And to truly appreciate how big of a deal that is, here are a few things you need to know about Christianity within the divided lands of Korea.
First Christian Teachings
The first teachings of Christianity were brought to Korea in 1603 and it was Korean diplomats who were responsible for that. They came into contact with Roman Catholicism in Manchuria and Japan.
Growing Christianity Population
In 1900, the country’s population consisted of only 1% of Christians, which eventually changed after the Pyongyang Revival in 1907 – the first religious movement for Korean Protestant Christianity. Nowadays, almost 29% of South Koreans have embraced Christianity, 23% are Buddists, and 46% have no religious affiliations.
During the early 1900, the Presbyterian mission within Pyongyang had developed many influential institutions, such as the Union Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Union Christian Hospital, and Union Christian College. Eventually, it led to the establishment of the three out of the five top universities in the country.
According to a research conducted by Pew Research, it was found that as of 2012, South Korea had experienced low levels of government restrictions on religion and social hostilities towards religious groups. These religious restrictions in South Korea are now lower than in the United States and are far less than the median levels of religious restrictions within the Asia-Pacific region.
Dong Suk-Kee – Playing the Critical Role in Bringing Christianity to Korea
To understand the depth of how Korea came to exist in Korea, we must look into the lives of those who played a vital role in bringing Christianity to Korea – which, in this case, would be Dong Suk-Kee.
Dong served as a phenomenal Korean American missionary and Gospel preacher. Many of you might even know him as the founder of the first Church of Christ in Korea.
He converted to Christianity in 1903 while working on a sugar plantation in Hawaii and travelled back to Korea as a Methodist preacher in 1913. In 1918, he attended a rally in Pagoda Park and was arrested for participating in a national independence demonstration. Upon his release, he resigned from the Namyang Church he was a part of in 1920 and went on to serve in different churches.
In 1930, Dong founded the Church of Christ in Korea and upon returning to his native province of Hamgyeong Do, he started preaching the gospel for three weeks and had converted 20 people through his efforts. Moreover, he also managed to establish seven churches in northern Korea and five in the southern region. He is considered a revered figure in the religious history of Korea, a man who founded the first congregation in Seoul and took part in major early works in all the southern parts of the nation.