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“A Permitted Haven in a Heartless World: Colleges and Churches in South Korea in the 1950s”

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In the 1950s, Christianity and educational achievement were the primary means for Koreans to break through the misery and powerlessness that the conflict from June 1950 to July 1953 had caused. Along with education, religion was a promising route in securing familial welfare for South Koreans. Among the several religions and denominations, Protestant churches were more popular for the uprooted people residing in urban areas. These two privately motivated daily activities—education and religion—captured the concern of the Korean people who had lost everything during the war. Under President Syngman Rhee’s “police state” and infrastructural ruin, religious and educational institutions filled the vacuum in the Republic of Korea that the Korean War had left in civil society. The Korean “habitus” of family promotion in the 1950s foretold the fast economic growth of the 1960s and 1970s. This paper will show how South Korea, during that decade, witnessed the formation of a new familialism, which tended to focus on the family’s fortune and money as a final goal. Ethical understandings and political decisions were secondary to the main priority of family promotion.

Affiliations: 1: Sung Kong Hoe University,


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