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Christianity’s Role in the Modernization and Revitalization of Korean Society in the Twentieth-Century

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image of International Journal of Public Theology

The development of South Korea and its growth to become the world’s eleventh largest economy has been accompanied by the introduction of Christianity and its increase to become the major religious group, to which nearly thirty per cent of the population are affiliated. This article probes the connection between these two spectacular examples of development; economic and religious. By highlighting moments or episodes of Christian contribution to aspects of development in Korean history and linking these to relevant aspects of Korean Christian theology, there is shown to be a constructive, although not always intentional, link between Korean Christianity and national development. The nature of the Christian contribution is seen not primarily in terms of the work ethic it engenders (as argued by Max Weber in the case of European capitalism) but mainly in the realm of aspirations (visions, hope) of a new society and motivation (inspiration, empowerment) to put them into effect. In other words, it was the public theology of Christianity that played a highly significant role in the modernization and revitalization of Korean society in the twentieth century.

Affiliations: 1: Leeds Trinity University College UK


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