Journal Article

Korean Religious Culture and its Affinity to Christianity: The Rise of Protestant Christianity in South Korea

Andrew E. Kim

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 61, issue 2, pages 117-133
Published in print January 2000 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2000 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3712281
Korean Religious Culture and its Affinity to Christianity: The Rise of Protestant Christianity in South Korea

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This study offers an analysis of the affinity between Korean traditional religious culture and Protestant Christianity in order to bring into sharper relief several important points of contact that strengthened the appeal of the imported faith in South Korea. In particular, Korean Shamanism, the enduring core of Korean religious and cultural thought, is given special attention in order to explain the prominence of its worldview and practices in the uniquely Korean form of Protestantism. The paper also examines the way in which specific Protestant doctrines and practices were modified or accentuated to suit the disposition of the Korean people. What this study reveals is that Christian con-version in South Korea did not involve an exclusivistic change of religious affiliation, meaning that it did not require the repudiation of traditionally held beliefs. Instead, millions of South Koreans eagerly embraced Christianity precisely because the new faith was advanced as an extension or continuation of Korean religious tradition.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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