A Catholic community emerged in Korea at the end of the eighteenth century but Korea’s Catholics were not allowed to practice their faith openly until the end of the nineteenth century. The official persecution Catholics endured for most of the nineteenth century left the Catholic community in Korea weak and battered, and dependent for survival on foreign missionaries. The Korean Catholic Church did not become a truly Korean church, one with a clergy that was predominantly Korean, until after the Korean War. Today, however, the vast majority of Catholic priests and nuns are Korean, and every bishop is Korean, a sharp contrast with the 1930s when none were. This Koreanization of the clergy has been accompanied by a Koreanization of Catholic rituals and parish life, including the use of Korean rather than Latin in major rituals and a greater role for lay believers in the management of parishes. In addition, since its leadership is now Korean, the Korean Catholic Church has taken a much more active role in such local issues as democratization and protection of the environment. As a result, the Korean Catholic community has attracted many more members, almost tripling in size since 1985.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 11-42
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.