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Title: Remnants and renewal : a history of Protestant Christianity in North Korea, with special reference to issues of Church and State, 1945-1994
Author: Keum, Jooseop
ISNI:       0000 0004 2682 3400
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2003
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This thesis seeks to give a comprehensive account of the development of Protestant Christianity in North Korea, with special reference to issues of church and state. The development of Protestant Christianity in Korea as a whole is deeply connected to these issues. This is particularly the case in North Korea where Christianity since 1945 has existed within a Communist state. The particularities of culture, religious tradition, temperament and sociohistorical experience will be studied in relation to the socio-political stance of North Korean Protestantism. The thesis is divided into three parts. The first part traces the history of northern Protestantism before the partition of 1945. The main argument in this part is that the northern minjung, who had a strong antipathy to the southern-cantered political power and the discriminatory social structure of the Chosun Dynasty, accepted Protestant Christianity as an alternative religion which could provide a new hope for social equality. During the period of Japanese colonialism, northern Protestantism resisted Japanese rule and organised the March First Independence Movement and opposition to Shinto Shrine worship. The thesis demonstrates that Protestant engagement with the socio-political context of the northern minjung was the major factor in the growth of Christianity in the North. A minjung-centered opposition paradigm in church-state relations was developed through this engagement. Part Two examines the history of North Korean Christianity during the time of its ideological struggle with Communism. This covers the period from the establishment the Communist regime in 1945, through the Korean War and into the post-war period. It will be shown that after the liberation from Japanese colonial rule, the northern churches mainly repeated the paradigm of opposition and competed for political power with the Communists, on the understanding that Christianity could not coexist with an atheistic regime. On the other hand, a cooperation paradigm also emerged through the leaders of the North Korean Christian Association, which recognized that the reforms initiated by the Communists were necessary in North Korea. It will be argued that both paradigms, the one cooperating with the regime and the other opposed to it, failed because neither of them was genuinely based on the context of the northern minjung. During the Korean War, the majority of northern Christians supported the Allied Army and continued to resist the Communist regime in the post-war context. This resistance brought about the "Anti-Religious Campaign" of the Communists. The result was that Christianity in North Korea suffered severe losses religious life from 1958 to 1972, and the number of Christians was greatly diminished. Part Three examines the revival of northern Protestantism since 1972, after the winter of the Anti-Religious Campaign. The remnant Christians reopened house churches and a seminary, and established the Korean Christian Federation as their national ecclesiastical structure. Institutionally revived northern Protestantism also sought to renew its theological and diaconal identities. It will be argued during this period that Protestant Christianity undertook authentic renewal of its mission in the Communist context. This renewal emphasized the notion of the church being a church for the minjung through the development of dialogue between Christianity and Juche Idea and the Social Diakonia Mission. The church-state relations in this period will be described and analyzed as a minjung-centered cooperation paradigm. With a summary and assessment of the various historical paradigms of the church-state relations in North Korea, the thesis concludes that the revival and renewal of northern Protestantism was not a compromise with the Communist government; rather, it was an effective articulation of a minjung-centered approach to church-state relations in the Communist context.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available