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Seoul, the capital of South Korea

Photo courtesy of Kuk Heon Lee.

Korea, Republic of

By Kuk Heon Lee

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Kuk Heon Lee graduated from Sahmyook University (B.A.), Newbold College (M.A.), and Sahmyook University (Ph.D.). From 1990 to 2009, he served as a pastor at Korean Union Conference. In 2010, he joined Sahmyook University as a lecturer and professor at the Theology Department. His research and teaching interests are in Church History. He wrote several books and published several papers on the subject. Currently, he is also the Dean of Planning at Sahmyook University.

The Seventh-day Adventist message was introduced into Korea shortly after the turn of the century. The Korean Conference was organized in 1917.

Vital Statistics

A peninsula of the Asian continent, lying between the West Sea and East Sea of Korea, is divided into two political entities, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea). Numerous small adjacent islands are part of these countries. Korea’s continental boundaries, which run along the Amnok and Duman Rivers, separate it from China to the northwest and Russia to the northeast. It has an area of 85,286 square miles (220,952 square kilometers), and a population of about 77 million (in 2020, 51 million in South Korea). The people are of the Mongolian race. The Korean language belongs to the Ural-Altaic group and is similar to Japanese in its grammar, but has a distinct vocabulary. It uses a phonetic alphabet consisting of ten vowels and 14 consonants, but employs along with its alphabet the Chinese ideographs. Their religions are animism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, and Cheondogyo (a mixture of the other four).1

Korea joined the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 1996 and is developing into a world-class country in high-tech industries such as semiconductors, mobile phones, and telecommunications satellites.2

Overview of Country3

National Development. The history of Korea began in the 24th century BC around the Korea Peninsula and Manchurian area. The recorded history began in the 1st century BC, and the official Western name became Korea when it was known to Western society as Corea during the Goryeo Dynasty, which unified the three kingdoms in the 8th century. The history of Chosen began at the end of the 14th century and, about 600 years later, it became the Korean Empire in 1897.

During most of its history Korea was under Chinese cultural influence and could boast of a high state of learning. Some 50 years before the invention of printing in Europe, the Koreans used movable type to print Chinese characters, and by the middle of the 15th century an indigenous phonetic alphabet was developed. Their contacts with the West began in the middle of the 17th century, but they resisted all approaches of foreigners until Japan began foreign diplomatic relations in 1876. The United States was the first Western nation to conclude a treaty with Korea in 1882.

In the early 20th century, Korea was ruled by Japanese imperial tactics. Beginning in 1910, Japan established a government-general in Chosen and colonized it, and Korea gained independence from Japan after Japan lost World War II in 1945.

After World War II, Korea was divided along the 38th parallel into two zones of occupation, the United States occupying the south and the USSR the north. The southern and northern parts have since developed their own governments, which are mutually hostile. The Korean War, fought between 1950 and 1953, devastated the country, but failed to reunite the northern and southern parts of Korea.

After the war, Korea was in an economically poor situation. However, it grew with economic development plans and developed enough to host the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.4 It was under the control of a long-standing military government, but it developed into a democratic civil society through democratization in 1987. During this period, Christianity contributed greatly to the democratization and industrialization of Korea.5 Since the 1990s, Korea has achieved economic growth and it joined the OECD in 1996. In the new millennium, Korea has achieved remarkable growth in the production of automobiles, steel, home appliances, and semiconductor industries based on high-tech technologies.

Entrance of Christianity. Christian books circulated in Korea in the 17th century. In the 18th century, Korean ambassadors and merchants came in direct contact with Christianity (Catholic) in Beijing, China. Thereafter, tracts on the Catholic religion were circulated and the doctrine spread rapidly. However, the social leaders resented Christianity and, in 1789, an edict of suppression was promulgated, which was enforced for three years. Thousands of Christians were tortured and killed, but the faith was not destroyed. The last great persecution came as recently as 1866.6

The first Protestant missionary to contact Korea was Karl Gützlaf, a missionary of the Dutch Missionary Society. He stayed on the west coast in July 1832, contacting Koreans and handing out missionary brochures. However, he failed to officially enter the country as a missionary.7 In 1866, Robert J. Thomas, a missionary of the London Missionary Society, arrived on the American schooner General Sherman and tossed portions of the Chinese Scriptures and some tracts to the Koreans on the bank of the river below Pyungyang. Infuriated, the people attacked the ship, killing the crew, Thomas among them. But the Bibles he had thrown ashore were taken and read, and thus the knowledge of the gospel came to many in that area.8 When Korea opened her doors to the West by making treaties with the United States in 1882 and with Britain and Germany in 1883, embassies were opened in Seoul. Dr. H. N. Allen, a Presbyterian minister in China, who came in 1884 as a doctor for the embassies and for the royal court, became the first resident missionary in Korea.9

In 1885 H. G. Underwood, a Presbyterian, and H. G. Appenzeller, a Methodist, from America, arrived in Korea, the first of a large number of Protestant missionaries who since that time have rendered service there.10 The New Testament in the Korean language had preceded them. In 1863 John Ross, a Scottish Presbyterian missionary in Mukden, Manchuria, China, had become so interested in the Korean people that he learned the Korean language, and he made the first translation of the New Testament into the Korean script. In 1882, 3,000 copies of the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of John were published in Mukden; Sang Ryun Soh, the first Korean Bible colporteur, brought some of these to Korea. Later 5,000 copies of the New Testament were distributed.11 As a result of this work, when Protestant missionaries came to northern Korea they found whole communities professing Christianity, even though they had never met a Protestant missionary.

Origin

The Seventh-day Adventist message was introduced into Korea shortly after the turn of the century. At this time many Koreans were emigrating to Siberia, Manchuria, Hawaii, and Mexico. One day in May 1904, a Korean, waiting for his ship to Hawaii, was walking along a street in Kobe, Japan. He was attracted by a signboard that read in Chinese characters (Korean, Japanese, and Chinese use common ideographs), “The Seventh-day Sabbath Jesus Second Coming Church.”

Being a Protestant, he became interested in this new church. He met Kuniya Hide, the evangelist, and a conversation began by means of writing the Bible texts in Chinese characters. Thus he studied the Seventh-day Adventist message. The next day the Korean brought a fellow Korean to study these new doctrines. These two men soon became convinced that the Adventist teachings were biblical, and the evening before the first Korean, Eung Hyun Lee, was to leave for Hawaii, the two men requested baptism. It was past midnight when the two Korean converts, escorted by a group of Japanese believers, went up to the pool below Nunobiki Falls, were baptized, and became the first Seventh-day Adventists from among the Korean people.12

Eung Hyun Lee left for Hawaii, but the second man, Heung Cho Son, returned to Korea. On shipboard he met Gi Ban Im, a Korean returning from Hawaii, and imparted to him the knowledge he had gained from Kuniya Hide. Gi Ban Im accepted these truths and proposed to give them to his people. Heung Cho Son went down to Busan, and there he began to spread the new message. Soon about 35 people were keeping the Sabbath. Meanwhile, Gi Ban Im continued up the west coast of Korea to the port of Chinnampo, where he created a great interest among the Christian Koreans. An urgent plea, signed by 36 people, was sent to Kuniya Hide, asking him to come over to teach them the Bible more fully. In answer to this call, Kuniya Hide arrived in Korea on August 10, 1904. He soon called for F. W. Field, the director of the Japanese Mission, to help him organize churches. They visited many interested people, baptized 71 of them, and organized four churches at Sondol, Kangdemoru, Yongdong, and Pamegi. They discovered in all some 140 Sabbath-keepers. Four charter members at Sondol—Kyu Hyuk Kim, Ye Choon Kim, Geun Ok Lee, and Seok Yung Kim—later developed into strong church workers. In September 1904, the work in Korea was put in charge of Gi Ban Im.13

Early History and Pioneers

To fill the need for a resident missionary who could speak Korean, W. R. Smith14 from the United States arrived late in 1905 and spent that winter in Seoul studying the Korean language. In the spring of 1906, he moved to Chinnampo to be near the Seventh-day Adventist churches. In the summer he moved to Soonan, where a new group of 22 baptized church members lived.

In January 1907, Mimi Scharffenberg,15 another Adventist missionary from the United States, arrived in Soonan. During that summer a schoolhouse was built, and in the fall Smith and Mimi Scharffenberg opened a church school for boys and also began a workers’ training course in which eight men and five women enrolled. Responding to calls for a doctor and other workers, Dr. Riley Russell and his wife, C. L. Butterfield and his family, and Helen May Scott, a qualified teacher, arrived in Soonan in 1908. Dr. Russell set up his clinic in one section of the schoolhouse. Later he also took charge of the boys’ school.16

In the fall of 1908, I. H. Evans, of the General Conference, and F. W. Field, of Japan, visited Korea. At a council held at that time, the Korean Mission was organized, with Butterfield as superintendent and Smith as secretary-treasurer. A committee was appointed to find a site for the mission headquarters, a publishing house, and a sanitarium. There were then five churches with 105 baptized members in Korea.17

At first, Adventist publications in Korean were printed in Japan. In 1909 an old proof press was set up in the schoolhouse in Soonan, and that year 18,000 tracts, plus some of G. H. Bell’s Bible lessons and Sabbath School lessons, were printed. During the summer the first colporteur went out to sell these publications to an interested public.18 Also in 1909, a girls’ school was opened at Chinnampo under the supervision of Mimi Scharffenberg.

In September 1909, Butterfield and Mimi Scharffenberg moved to Seoul,19 where for a time the work was carried on in rented quarters outside West Gate. Several Korean workers were also moved to Seoul to assist in the publishing and evangelistic work. A Sabbath School was organized in Seoul in 1909 and later, in January 1911, a church was organized with 31 members.

R. C. Wangerin and his wife (sister of Mimi Scharffenberg) came to Korea in October 1909, and H. A. Oberg and his wife arrived a month later. Oberg served as secretary-treasurer and publishing secretary. Howard M. Lee and his wife (sister of May Scott) arrived in Soonan on April 5, 1910, to take charge of the educational work.20

In August 1910, I. H. Evans, president of the Asiatic Division of the General Conference,21 and F. W. Field, of Japan, met with the missionaries and Korean workers for study and counsel. The group laid plans to print a missionary paper at once, of which Mimi Scharffenberg was to be editor. Also at this meeting, Dr. Riley Russell was ordained, and two Koreans, Keun Ok Lee and Sung Won Kim, were added to the mission committee.22

The name chosen for the monthly magazine was Malsebogum (Gospel for the Last Days). When government authorities objected to this name (Korea having been annexed to Japan in August 1910), the title Secheonsa Gibyul (Three Angels’ Message) was chosen. In January 1911, all missionaries, workers, and students joined in a sales campaign that extended from Busan to Wiju, and they sold more than 36,000 copies of the book. In addition, 30,000 leaflets were given away. In January 1917, the name of the magazine was changed to Sijo (Signs of the Times).23

After much searching in the environs of Seoul, a suitable place to locate the mission headquarters was found three miles (five kilometers) outside the East Gate. At this place three mission homes, a church, a publishing house, and mission offices were erected in the summer of 1912.24 While the buildings were under construction, the families connected with the mission work lived on the property in tents. On the first Sabbath in February 1913 the mission compound was dedicated. Present was H. R. Salisbury, representing the General Conference. During the summer of 1913 new school buildings and a dispensary were erected in Soonan.

In 1915 A. G. Daniells, president of the General Conference, attended the general meeting of the mission held at Sunan, at which two Korean workers, Keun Ok Lee and Mun Gook Jeong, were ordained to the ministry.25 This greatly encouraged the Korean members. That same year Oberg and Wangerin were ordained at the Asiatic Division meeting in Shanghai, China.26

Spread and Development of the Message

Organization of the Conference. At the 1917 meeting of the mission, at which A. G. Daniells was present, the Korean Conference was organized, with C. L. Butterfield as president and B. R. Owen as secretary-treasurer. Another Korean worker, Kyu Hyuk Kim, was ordained at the time of this meeting.27

In 1919 the Korean Conference became the Chosen Union Mission with three local units: West Chosen Conference, Central Chosen Mission, and South Chosen Mission.28

Until 1940 the Chosen Union Conference achieved great missionary growth. At the end of 1939, just before the outbreak of World War II, the Korean Adventist Church had 7,390 members in 170 Sabbath schools, and 3,693 members in 34 churches. The organization had four missions, one publishing house, and clinics in Soonan and Seoul.29

World War II. As World War II approached the Far East, the United States government advised all American missionaries to leave Korea. In response, the missionaries left in the spring of 1941, but not before organizing the Korean workers to carry on the work. In February 1943 the leaders of the church—Tai Hyun Choi, Yung Sup Oh, Sang Chil Kim, Sung Eui Lee, Chang Uk Park, and Rye Chun Kim—were arrested by the Japanese police and held in prison until the end of the year. Tai Hyun Choi died as a result of torture inflicted in prison. Two of the others, Rye Chun Kim and Sung Eui Lee, were released from prison but, their health broken, they died soon after. Myung Choon Lee died also. In all, some 40 Seventh-day Adventists were imprisoned for their faith.30

Because of suppression and persecution many of the workers and members fled to the mountains. There Myung Kil Kim shepherded many of these refugees and baptized 153. Kyung Chul Cho was another stalwart shepherd.31 One group went into the mountain ranges of central Korea, maintaining themselves by cutting wood and selling charcoal. The Bible and the books of Ellen G. White that had been translated into Korean were of great comfort to them at that time.

At the close of the war on August 15, 1945, the members came out of their hiding places. In October 1945, Seventh-day Adventists from all parts of Korea gathered in Seoul for a ten-day general meeting. Here they shared the joy of reunion and expressed gratitude for God’s protection. They also elected temporary officers for the union mission: Sung Won Im, president; Syuk Yung Oh, secretary-treasurer; Ryeo Sik Lee, departmental secretary. Afterward they set out to recover the mission properties.32

The first postwar missionaries, Ralph S. Watts, who returned as president of the union mission, and his wife, came in January 1947; in April, Dr. G. H. Rue, James M. Lee, and Leland Mitchell were permitted to return to aid in the restoration of the medical and educational work. In June 1947, the South Korean Mission and the Central Korean Mission were organized and staffed with Korean workers. Sung Won Im had already been appointed director of the North Korean Mission (north of the 38th parallel) in the spring of 1946. In 1947, Theodora Wangerin returned to resume the editorial work; Irene Robson arrived to be the director of nurses in the Seoul Sanitarium; R. C. Mills returned to be secretary-treasurer of the union mission. Later Dr. R. W. Pearson came to work at the Seoul Sanitarium and Hospital.33

Korean War. The work was developing rapidly when, on June 25, 1950, the North Koreans invaded South Korea and the missionaries were evacuated to Japan. During the war the Christians suffered greatly. Although fewer than 50 Seventh-day Adventists lost their lives, many others lost all their possessions, and many churches were destroyed. Many members who had lived in North Korea came south during the winter of 1950, thus adding to the church membership in South Korea.

At the Far Eastern Division Council held in February 1951, Chang Uk Park was appointed secretary-treasurer of the Korean Union Mission. In the fall of that year Clinton W. Lee returned to Korea as president of the union mission and led in the restoration of the work that had been severely disrupted by war.34

In 1954, shortly after the end of the Korean War, the Korean Adventist Church celebrated the 50th anniversary of the mission. Despite the difficulties of the war, the Korean church grew to have 6,153 members in 50 churches and 15,744 Sabbath School students.35

Postwar Growth. In 1951 a period of rapid growth in membership began in Korea. Although there were few overseas missionaries, at times only three, and there were neither offices nor secretarial staff, the average membership gains for those years was almost 25 percent per year. With more baptisms each year and thousands of new converts joining the Sabbath Schools, C. H. Davis, who in 1958 came to Korea as president of the Korean Union Mission, and the Korean leaders found it impossible to provide the funds needed to build churches to house the growing congregations. Congregations more than doubled in a few months. Consecrated laymen left the larger cities to carry the message to the areas where Adventism had not been preached, pagan islands, and mountain villages. Colporteurs carrying publications into every office, factory, and home surpassed previous sales records year after year. According to statistics at the end of 1965, the number of Korean Adventists reached 28,116 in 216 churches and there were 100,314 Sabbath School students.36

Era of the Five Conferences and Union Conference. In the late 1960s, the Korean Adventist Church experienced a crisis due to a sharp decline in the number of church members. However, in the 1970s, with the economic development of the country, the church began to grow again and, as a result, it expanded its organization back to five missions in 1978. During this period, the Korean Union Mission had 38,914 church members in 310 churches.37 Especially in the 1970s, various projects were developed to revitalize the missionary work.

In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Korean Union Mission, the Korean Publishing House (Sijosa) in 1974 printed 42,000 copies of The Great Controversy in a one-volume paperback edition. There were approximately 100 literature evangelists selling Spirit of Prophecy books, the Sijo (Signs of the Times), and a Korean vegetarian cookbook.38

English language school evangelism opened in Korea in the fall of 1969. Dean Hubbard, then ministerial secretary, led out in the opening of this new school, patterned after the one in Osaka, Japan, which was reinstituted in 1966 by M. T. Bascom. A section of a new building near the union mission headquarters in Seoul was leased and a laboratory constructed along with a number of classrooms. This school became the largest English school in the Far Eastern Division, with nearly 1,400 students enrolled. Teachers for this school were student missionaries from colleges in North America. By 1992, a total of 15 institutes were opened in the major cities of Korea, making a total enrollment in 1992 of 64,388 students, taught by a staff of 113 volunteers. Language institutes have proved to be a great evangelistic outreach.39 Not only are English, Japanese, and Russian classes offered, but also Bible classes. Continuous evangelistic meetings harvest the interests created by the work of the volunteers.

In March 1978 the Central Korean Mission was divided into two missions—East Central Korean Mission and West Central Korean Mission. This accelerated the church growth. As a result, all of the five missions became conferences, and Korean Union Mission became Korean Union Conference in 1983. During this period, the Korean Union Conference had 368 churches, 56,245 members, 53,863 students at Sabbath Schools, and 261 pastors.40

Church Growth and New Millennium. The 80th anniversary of the mission was celebrated in 1984, after being promoted to union conference status. During this period, the Korean Adventist Church conducted various relief activities at home and abroad, founded the ASI, and led the growth of the church by holding “health seminars for modern people.” As a result, it experienced a membership of more than 100,000 followers in 1991.41

In the 1990s, various missionary projects were carried out. In 1992 the One Thousand Missionary Movement began in the Philippines, and many Korean young people participated in the movement. In 1995 a media center was established for media missionary work and ADRA Korea was established to specialize in relief services. Especially during this period, Korean leaders served as leaders of the world Church. A lay training center (1997), a manual nursing hospital (1997), and a Yeosu nursing hospital (1996) were established. In 1997, the Northern Asia-Pacific Division (NSD) was established in Ilsan, Gyeonggi Province, to lead missionary work in Northern Asia.42

Ahead of the new millennium, the Korean Adventist Church experienced internal and external difficulties. Nevertheless, the church continued to grow and celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Korean Adventist mission in 2004. One hundred years after the Adventist Church sowed the seeds of the gospel in Korea, the Korean Adventist Church experienced amazing growth with five conferences, 688 churches, 171,006 church members, and 828 pastors.43

Institutions

The Korea Union Conference operates two higher educational institutions, four food industries, five healthcare institutions, and other entities.44

Education:

Sahmyook Health University (Sahmyook Bogeon Daehakgyo). 82 Mangu-ro; Dongdaemun-ku; Seoul 02500; Korea.

Sahmyook University (Sahmyook Daehakgyo). 815 Hwarang-ro Nowon-gu; Seoul 01795; Korea.

Food Industries:

Korean Sahmyook Foods (Sahmyook Sikpoom) (Formerly Korean Sahmyook Food). 354-13 Seongjin-ro Jiksaneup, Seobuk-gu Chunan-si; Choongnam 31033; Korea.

Korean Sahmyook Foods-2nd Factory (Sahmyook Sikpoom) (Formerly Korean Sahmyook Food Unju Factory). 38 Jangseon-ro Unju-myeon; Wanju-gun; Jeonbuk 55300; Korea.

Korean Sahmyook Foods-3rd Factory (Sahmyook Sikpoom) (Formerly Korean Sahmyook Food Bonghwa Factory). 44 1 Nonggongdanji-gil; Bonghwa-eub; Bonghwa-gun; Gyeongbuk 36242; Korea.

Korean Sahmyook Foods-4th Factory (Sahmyook Sikpoom). 129-5 Jinjuk-ri; Cheongso-myeon; Boryung-si; Choongnam 355-823; Korea.

Hospitals and Sanitariums:

Busan Adventist Hospital (Sahmyook Uiryowon Busan Byungwon). 170 Daetiro; Seo-gu; Busan 49230; Korea.

Eden Adventist Hospital (Eden Yoyang Byungwon). 160 Biryong-ro 1782beon-gil; Sudong-myun; Namyangju-si; Gyeonggi-do 12024; Korea.

Seoul Adventist Dental Hospital (Sahmyook Chikwa Byungwon). 82 Mangwoo-ro; Dongdaemun-gu; Seoul 02500; Korea.

Seoul Adventist Hospital (Sahmyook Uiryowon Seoul Byungwon). 82 Mangwoo-ro; Dongdaemun-gu; Seoul 02500; Korea.

Yeosu Sanitarium and Hospital (Yeosu Yoyang Byungwon). 204-32 Jangsoo-ro; Hwayang-myun; Yosu City, Jeonnam 59780; Korea.

Nursing Home and Retirement Center:

Eden Senior Sanitarium Center (Eden Noin Jeonmun Yoyang Center). 36-52 Biryong-ro 1742beongil; Sudong-myun; Namyangju-si; Gyeonggi-do 12024; Korea.

Publishing:

Korean Publishing House (Sijosa). 11 Imunro 1 Gil; Dongdaemun-gu; Seoul 02461; Korea.

Bible Correspondence School:

VOH Bible Correspondence School. 11 Imunro 1gil; Dongdaemun-gu; Seoul 02461; Korea.

Educational, Study, and Training Facilities/Programs:

Adventist Training Center (Jearim Yeonsoowon). 351 Panbushinchon-gil; Panbu-myun, Wonju-si; Kangwon-do 26505; Korea. Director, Sung Ha Park.

Madalpy Sahmyook Training Center (Madalpy Sahmyook Sooryeonwon). 343 Yonghwa-ro; Jewon-myun; Geumsan-gun; Chungnam 32720; Korea. Director, Ki Jung Um.

Ellen G. White Research Center:

Ellen G. White Seventh-day Adventist Research Center, Korean Sahmyook University. 815 Hwarang-ro Nowon-gu; Seoul 01795; Korea. Director, Un Bae Kim.

English Language Schools:

Headquarters of SDA Language Institute. 33 Mangwoo-ro 18-gil; Dongdaemoon-gu; Seoul 02498; Korea. Director, Hyung Jin Lee; Secretary, Cheong Min Cho.

Bucheon Seventh-day Adventist Language Institute. 131 Sohyang-ro; Wonmi-gu; Bucheon 14546; Korea.

Cheonan Seventh-day Adventist Language Institute. 13 Mannam-ro; Dongnam-gu; Cheonan-city 31120; Korea.

Daejeon Dunsan Seventh-day Adventist Language Institute. 31 Hanbatdae-ro 707-gil; Seo-gu; Daejeon 35220; Korea.

Gimpo Seventh-day Adventist Language Institute. 845 Taejang-ro; Gimpo-si; Gyeonggi-do 10091; Korea.

Inhadaeyeok Seventh-day Adventist Language Institute. 33, Yongjeonggongwon-ro; Nam-gu; Incheon 22188; Korea.

Kangnam Seventh-day Adventist Language Institute. 15 Hakdong-ro 47-gil; Kangnam-gu; Seoul 06059; Korea.

Muju Global Education Center. 326-36 Hanpungru-ro, Muju-eup, Muju-gun; Jeollabuk-do 55514; Korea.

Namyoungyeok Seventh-day Adventist Language Institute. 26 Hangangdae-ro 81-gil; Yongsan-gu; Seoul 04321; Korea.

Ohsan Seventh-day Adventist Language Institute. 12 Busanjungang-ro Osan-si; Gyeonggi-do 18148; Korea.

Pyeongtaek Seventh-day Adventist Language Institute. 80 Sangseojae-ro; Pyeongtaek-si; Gyeonggi-do 17845; Korea.

Philippine Seventh-day Adventist English Language Center. c/o 1000 Missionary Movement Campus; Baludad 2nd; Silang; Cavite; Philippines. (Administered by the Korean Union Conference).

Seoul Seventh-day Adventist Language Institute. 33 Mangwoo-ro 18-gil; Dongdaemoon-gu; Seoul 02498; Korea.

Suwonshingal Seventh-day Adventist Language Institute. 25 Sinjeong-ro; Giheung-gu; Yongin-si; Gyeonggi-do 17094; Korea.

Yangpyeong English Village. 209, Yeonsu-ro, Yongmunmyeon; Yangpyeong-gun; Gyeonggi-do 12516; Korea.

Yongin Seventh-day Adventist Language Institute. 67 Dongbaekjukjeon-daero 527beon-gil; Giheung-gu; Gyeonggi-do 16704; Korea.

Literature Ministry Seminary:

Korean Union Conference. 11 Imun-ro 1gil; Dongdaemun-ku; Seoul 02461; Korea.

Radio-TV Production Center:

Voice of Hope Studio. 11 Imun-ro 1gil; Dongdaemun-ku; Seoul 02461; Korea.

Church Administrative Units

The territory of Korea constitutes the Korean Union Conference, which constitutes a part of the territory of the Northern Asia-Pacific Division and is divided into five conferences and one attached field. Statistics (2020) for Korea: churches 699, members 260,729, ministers 846, teachers 412. Headquarters for the Korean Union Conference: 66 Hoegi-dong Dongdaemun-ku, Seoul, Korea. Korean Union Conference consists of five conferences, one mission, and one region.

East Central Korean Conference:

Territory: Eastern part of Seoul; Kangwon (except the county of Chulwon); the counties of Hanam, Kapyung, Kuri, Kwangjoo, Namyangju, Sungnam; Yangpyung in Kyunggi; and the counties of Chechun, and Tanyang in Choongbuk.

Statistics, as of June 30, 2019: churches 155, membership 82,088, population 7,787,269.

Middlewest Korean Conference:

Territory: Chungbuk (except the counties of Danyang, and Jecheon), Chungnam, Daejeon, and Sejong.

Statistics, as of June 30, 2019: churches 130, membership 31,613, population 5,537,153.

Southeast Korean Conference:

Territory: The cities of Busan, Taegu, and Ulsan; and the provinces of Kyungbuk, and Kyungnam.

Statistics, as of June 30, 2019: churches 123, membership 34,410, population 13,070,377.

Southwest Korean Conference:

Territory: Gwangju-city; and the provinces of Jeonbuk, and Jeonnam.

Statistics, as of June 30, 2019: churches 90, membership 22,470, population 5,158,677.

West Central Korean Conference:

Territory: Western part of Seoul; the province of Gyeonggi (except the counties of Kapyung, Kwangjoo, and Yangpyung); and the county of Chulwon in the province of Kangwon.

Statistics, as of June 30, 2019): churches 166, membership 86,375, population 19,623,711.

North Korean Mission:

(Number of churches and membership in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are estimates based on latest figures available.)

Territory: That portion of Korea lying north of the armistice line.

Statistics: churches 26, membership 866, population 25,666,000.

Jeju Region:

Territory: Jeju Island.

Statistics, June 30, 2019: churches 7, membership 1,207, population 668,813.

Challenges to Mission

In modern society, Korea is one of the fastest economically developed countries. The Korean Adventist Church grew as fast as Korea's economic growth. The growth of the Korean Adventist Church was the result of active missionary activities and the development of various institutions. In the 21st century, however, the church faced several challenges.

  • As the social environment changes, church growth is slowing, and the influence of the church is decreasing in Korea.

  • The number of teenagers is decreasing, so the church is getting older. This poses the challenge of nurturing future generations.

  • Each institution must expand its operational expertise to meet social changes in the 21st century.

  • The mission of the church must be strengthened to overcome the global crisis caused by the acceleration of globalization.

To address these challenges, the Korean Adventist Church is looking forward to the power of the Holy Spirit. The ultimate mission of the Korean Adventist Church is to advance the second coming of Jesus Christ to realize the kingdom of God.

Sources

ARH, December 29, 1904; April 17, 1913; July 29, 1915; May 3, 1917; August 26, 1919; August 10, 1939.

Church Compass, May 1956; February 1966; November 1974.

Kim Chong-Gi. Impact of the Seoul Olympic Games on National Development. Seoul: Korean Development Institute, 1989.

Lee, Kuk Heon, A History of Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church. Seoul: Sahmyook University Press, 2020.

Lee, Yung Lin. A Comprehensive Study in the History of the Adventist Church in Korea. Seoul: Sunmyung Cultural Press, 1968.

Minutes of the 26th General Session of Korean Union Conference, 1978.

Minutes of the 29th General Session of Korean Union Conference, 1992.

Naoichi, Yamamote. The Life of Evangelist Kuniya Hiede. Tr. Byungin Min. Seoul: Sahmyook University, 2006.

National Institute of Korean History. History of Korea. Vol. 23. Seoul: National Institute of Korean History, 1984.

Oh, Man Kyu. History of One Hundred Years of Korean Seventh-day Adventists, vol. 1. Seoul: Korean Publishing House, 2010.

Quarterly Record of the National Bible Society of Scotland, October 1882.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. 1910; 1920; 2020.

The Society of the History of Christianity in Korea. A History of Christianity in Korea, vol. 1. Seoul: The Christian Literature Press, 2011.

Notes

  1. “Republic of Korea,” Encyclodedia of Korean Culture, http://encykorea.aks.ac.kr/Contents/SearchNavi?keyword=%EB%8C%80%ED%95%9C%EB%AF%BC%EA%B5%AD&ridx=0&tot=401&keyword=%EB%8C%80%ED%95%9C%EB%AF%BC%EA%B5%AD&ridx=0&tot=401, accessed on May 18, 2021.

  2. https://www.korea.kr/news/policyNewsView.do?newsId=148749803. Accessed on May 20, 2021

  3. National Institute of Korean History, History of Korea, Vol. 23 (Seoul: National Institute of Korean History, 1984).

  4. Cf. Chong-Gi, Kim, Impact of the Seoul Olympic Games on National Development (Seoul: Korean Development Institute, 1989).

  5. Kuk Heon Lee, A History of Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church (Seoul: Sahmyook University Press, 2020), 262-264.

  6. The Society of the History of Christianity in Korea, A History of Christianity in Korea, vol. 1 (Seoul: The Christian Literature Press, 2011), 88-89.

  7. Ibid., 94.

  8. Ibid., 97-100.

  9. Ibid., 131-134.

  10. Ibid., 135.

  11. “The Gospel for Corea,” Quarterly Record of the National Bible Society of Scotland, October 1882.

  12. Yamamote Naoichi, The Life of Evangelist Kuniya Hied, tr. Byungin Min (Seoul: Sahmyook University, 2006), 85.

  13. R. W. Field, “The Situation in Korea,” ARH, December 29, 1904, 13; Man Kyu Oh, History of One Hundred Years of Korean Seventh-day Adventists, vol. 1 (Seoul: Korean Publishing House, 2010), 73.

  14. He was the first missionary in the history of Korean Adventist Church (Man Kyu Oh, 89-91).

  15. She was the first female missionary in the history of Korean Adventist Church. Ibid, 98.

  16. Kuk Heon Lee, 34-39.

  17. Yung Lin Lee, A Comprehensive Study in the History of the Adventist Church in Korea (Seoul: Sunmyung Cultural Press, 1968), 41.

  18. Man Kyu Ok, 125, 126.

  19. Kuk Heon Lee, 41, 42.

  20. Ibid, 43.

  21. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1910), 133.

  22. Yung Lin Lee, 43.

  23. Kuk Heon Lee, 66.

  24. C. L. Butterfield, “Dedication Service at Seoul, Korea,” ARH, April 17, 1913, 13.

  25. J. E. Fulton, “A Missionary Tour in Korean,” ARH, July 29, 1915, 11.

  26. A. G. Daniells, “The Asiatic Division Conference,” ARH, August 26, 1919, 5.

  27. A. G. Daniells, “The Korean Conference,” ARH May 3, 1917, 13.

  28. Irwin H. Evans, “Meeting of the Chosen Union Mission,” ARH, August 7, 1919, 14. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1920), 158-159.

  29. V. T. Amstrong, “Union Session in Korea,” ARH, August 10, 1939, 10.

  30. Man Kyu Oh, 740.

  31. Yung Lin Lee, 79-83.

  32. Ibid., 84.

  33. Ibid., 88-89.

  34. Ibid., 103.

  35. Church Compass, May 1956, 44-46.

  36. Church Compass, February 1966, 6.

  37. Minutes of the 26th General Session of Korean Union Conference, 1978, 41-52.

  38. Church Compass, November 1974, 4, 5.

  39. “Report of Sahmyook Language Institutes,” Minutes of the 29th General Session of Korean Union Conference, 1992.

  40. Kuk Heon Lee, 273.

  41. Ibid., 289, 290.

  42. Ibid., 320, 321.

  43. Ibid., 350.

  44. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2020), 223-228.

×

Lee, Kuk Heon. "Korea, Republic of." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. June 08, 2021. Accessed January 25, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=DFLX.

Lee, Kuk Heon. "Korea, Republic of." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. June 08, 2021. Date of access January 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=DFLX.

Lee, Kuk Heon (2021, June 08). Korea, Republic of. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved January 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=DFLX.