The American Southern Presbyterian Missionaries in Modern Korea: A Question of Cultural Imperialism

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Sang-suk Go, Min-soo Kang, Cheol-won Shin , Seoung-mook Rheem, Won-suk Han, Jun-ki Chung


Japan ruled Korea as a colony from 1910 to 1945. During this turbulent period, many Western Protestant missionaries entered Korea and began missionary work. The academic world argues that Koreans came to serve two kinds of foreign masters who entered the Korean Peninsula: Japanese imperialist invaders and Western Protestant missionaries. These missionaries divided each region of Korea and carried out missionary work to pass on their beliefs to the Koreans. Japan's colonial rule over Korea and the missionaries' religious ministry are often understood and interpreted through a framework of “cultural imperialism” of “domination and obedience,” although their ideologies and purposes were different. This study attempts to argue that while this interpretation is not entirely wrong, neither can it be regarded as fully justified. This is because the division of the missionaries' work had its own reasons and generally has produced a good result. We will prove our argument by highlighting the example of the Gwangju ministry of the American Southern Presbyterian missionaries.


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