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Catholicism print

Catholicism first came to Korea as the result of Koreans’ interest in Western academic studies. Korean diplomatic missions to the imperial court of China came across Jesuit missionary books and brought them back to Korea. In 1784, during a trip to China, a young Korean named Lee Seung-hoon met a French priest, Father Grammont, who taught him about Catholicism. Lee Seung-hoon was baptized and upon returning to Korea, he set up a small church. He was the first person to preach the Catholic doctrine in Korea.

At the time of its establishment in Korea, during the latter part of the 18th century, the Catholic Church faced prosecution because its teachings violated beliefs revered by Confucian society. This conflict continued until the end of the 19th century. Some of the most well-known cases of mass persecution from that time are the Sinyu Persecution of 1801, the Gihae Persecution of 1839, the Byeongo Persecution of 1846, and the Byeongin Persecution of 1866. In 1876, as Korea was opening its doors to the west, Catholicism gained acceptance, but was later forbidden under Japanese Colonial rule from 1940-1945. During this time, the Catholic Church continued its work in education, medical care, and other missionary work. From this period on, the number of Catholics in Korea increased drastically, as did the number of churches. In 1969, Cardinal Kim Su-hwan was appointed the archbishop of the Seoul Archdiocese, and in 1989, Pope John Paul II visited Seoul to attend the 44th International Eucharistic Congress.

[Related Column] Catholicism in Korea: Its Evolution and History

Catholicism in Today's Society
Some of Korea's most famous cathedrals include Myeong-dong Cathedral and Jeondong Catholic Cathedral. There are many other historical Catholic sites remaining in Korea, including Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine in Seoul, Jeoldusan Martyrs' Memorial Museum, and Martyrs' Mountain (Chimyeongjasan). Among these historical sites, Myeong-dong Cathedral is regarded as the symbol of Catholicism in Korea. The cathedral was completed in 1898 in a Western-style, gothic architecture.

☞ Go to The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea

Prominent Sites
Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul   Jeondong Catholic Cathedral in Jeonju   Martyrs' Mountain (Chimyeongjasan) in Jeonju
Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine   Jeoldusan Martyrs' Museum   Gongseri Catholic Church

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