Abstract

The symbolic power of the cross is one of the reasons Protestant Christianity attracted so many adherents in its first few decades in Korea. The simple Protestant cross had an advantage over the Catholic crucifix, which includes a three-dimensional image of the crucified Jesus. The unadorned cross of Protestant Christianity reminded many Koreans of the Sino-Korean character for 10 (十), which some read as a reference to the ten auspicious places mentioned in the popular prophetic text Chŏnggam-nok. The cross also was used on flagpoles flying the flag of St. George’s cross, which Koreans interpreted as a sign of both the spiritual power of the Christian message and of the protective power of the extraterritoriality of Western missionaries. In addition, the use of the cross as a symbol of the Japanese Red Cross during the Russo-Japanese War strengthened its association with modern civilization. When Japanese military forces captured members of the Righteous Armies and tied them to crosses before executing them, the cross also gained a nationalistic aura. These multiple associations for the cross made it a powerful symbol drawing Koreans into the Protestant churches.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2167-2040
Print ISSN
2093-7288
Pages
pp. 117-162
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-19
Open Access
No
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