3 From Manchuria to the Korean Peninsula: The Scottish Impact in Late Nineteenth Century Korea

in Religious Transformation in Modern Asia
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Abstract

The Korean peninsula of Northeast Asia was not well known to the powers and authorities of Western countries in the nineteenth century, for the royal family and their government of the Chosŏn dynasty (empire of Korea) had maintained an anti-western policy. The national policy did not last a long time; rather the western civilization of advanced science, technology, literature, and culture flowed into this oriental society, where there was a strong influence of Confucianism. Although Buddhist monks were in Korea, it was not the national religion. Instead, various activities of shamanism were performed in the life and culture of the Korean people. Christianity was a new religion to the local people in the nineteenth century. Then, how did the historical development of the Western religion take place in Korea? Was it part of the nineteenth century colonialism? Which country had the greatest effect on the early Korean Protestant movement? How did the Korean scripture (Sǒnggyo) emerge and affect the widespread use of Han’gŭl language in the society? This paper not only demonstrates the unique impact of a Scottish man over the early history of Korean Christianity and the development of Korean literature in 1870s-1890s, but also argues that the Korean diaspora in Manchuria under the principle of the ‘fulfilment theology’ performed as the vessel of John Ross for the modernization of the Hermit Kingdom.

Religious Transformation in Modern Asia

A Transnational Movement

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