Christian Cyclopedia

About the Cyclopedia


(Corea; N. Korean and official Jap. name: Chosen [see par. 2], “Land of Morning Calm”; S. Korean: Hangook, or Han-kuk; name used within Korea after WW II by Rep. of Korea: Tae Han. The name Korea is said to derive from Koryo [see par. 2]). 1. Peninsula S from Manchuria bet. Yellow Sea and Sea of Jap.; ca. 550 mi. long; ca. 125–ca. 200 mi. wide; more mountainous in N than in S; thousands of islands along the coast. Area: ca. 85,250 sq. mi. (North Korea [Dem. People's Rep. of Korea] ca. 46,663 sq. mi., South Korea [Rep. of Korea] ca. 38,100 sq. mi., demilitarized since 1953 [see par. 2] ca. 487 sq. mi.) Climate gen. hot and wet in summer, cold and dry in winter. Han people (Tungusic or Mongoloid) invaded the land perhaps ca. the 3d millennium BC, formed the dominant racial stock, and originated the Korean language, which resembles Japanese in grammar.

2. Korea's legendary past begins 2333 BC Recorded hist. begins ca. 57 BC with the Period of Three Kingdoms (Silla, Koguryu, Pakche), followed by the Koryo dynasty (ca. 918–1392) and the Li (or Yi) dynasty (1392–1910), under which the land was named Chosen by the emp. of China. Jap. protectorate 1907, province 1910–45; divided at 38th parallel into zones of Russ. (N) and Am. (S) occupation; N. Korean People's Rep. and S. Korean Rep. est. 1948; Korean War 1950–53.

3. The 6–3-3–4-grade educ. system is in popular use, with compulsory educ. on the elementary level. The literacy rate is high.

4. Shamanism,* oldest indigenous religion, began in prehistoric times. Confucianism* was introd. from China before the Christian era. Buddhism* entered Korea 4th c. AD, reached its zenith 12th–14th c. Chondokyo (ch'ondogyo [“Religion of the Heavenly Way”]; first called Tonghak [“Eastern Learning”]), indigenous and eclectic, was founded ca. 1860 by Ch'oe Che-u (Suun [honorific title]; 1824–64). Shinto,* introd. from Jap., virtually disappeared after 1945.

5. First contact with Christianity apparently was with Jap. RCs who came 1592 with invaders. There were Korean Christians at least as early as 1784. Severe persecution, intermittent since 1785, started anew 1801, continued till 1881; total martyrs est. ca. 10,000. Three Fr. RC missionaries arrived in the 1830s, were martyred. K. F. A. Gützlaff* explored the coast 1832, spent ca. a mo. there. Robert J. Thomas, LMS miss. to China, visited Korea 1865 as agent of the Nat. Bible Soc. of Scot., was martyred 1866. J. Ross* helped tr. Scripture into Korean, baptized Koreans in Manchuria 1881 and 1884. Other miss. ventures include those of H. N. Allen,* Presb., 1884; other Presbs. and N. Meths. in the middle 1880s; Australian Presb. Ch. and Ch. of Eng. near the turn of the decade; S. Presbs. 1892; S. Meths. in middle 1890s; Can. Presbs. 1898; Advs. and the Oriental* Miss. Soc. in the 1st decade of the 20th c.; Salv. Army 1908; LCMS 1958. Hankuk Rutu Kyohoe (Korea Luth. Ch.) grew out of LCMS efforts; organized 1971; accepted as a sister ch. of LCMS 1971; later called Luth. Ch. in Korea. After WW II many schisms occurred, resulting in many sects. Ca. 1,500,000 Christians in S. Korea; figures for N. Korea not available. Luth. theol. training program began in the middle 1960s in Seoul. See also Nevius Methods.

G. M. McCune, E. McCune, and A. L. Grey Jr., Korea Today (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1950); C. B. Osgood, The Koreans and Their Culture (New York, 1951); Chae Kyung Oh, Handbook of Korea (New York, 1958); Korea: Its Land, People and Culture of All Ages (pub. by Hakwon-sa, Seoul, 1960); S. H. Moffett, The Christians of Korea (New York, 1962); R. E. Shearer, Wildfire: Church Growth in Korea (Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1966); Korea Struggles for Christ, ed. H. S. Hong, Won Yong Ji, and Chung Choon Kim (Seoul, 1966); M. W. Dorow, Developing a Ministry on Mission Fields in the Light of the New Testament Concepts of Church and Ministry (Conc. Sem., St. Louis, Missouri, STM Thesis, 1963); G. T. Brown, Mission to Korea (n. p., 1962); B. B. Weems, Reform, Rebellion, and the Heavenly Way (Tucson, Arizona, 1964). WYJ

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

Internet Version Produced by
The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
Concordia Publishing House
All rights reserved.

Content Reproduced with Permission

Stay Connected! Join the LCMS Network:

Contact Us Online
(Staff Switchboard)
(Church Info Center)
1333 S Kirkwood Rd
Saint Louis, MO 63122-7226 | Directions


Featured Publication

The Lutheran Witness

LCMS Communications

Interpreting the contemporary world from a Lutheran Christian perspective.
Visit TLW Online