Abstract

In 2007, the Yanghwajin cemetery in Seoul, Korea became the site of a controversy between the mostly foreign Seoul Union Church and the Hundredth Anniversary Memorial Church, formed by the Committee for the Celebration of the Hundredth Anniversary of the Korean Church. The controversy, ostensibly over the care of the foreigners’ cemetery and possession of a chapel built to commemorate a century of Protestant Christianity in Korea, is also a conflict over the heritage represented by the missionaries buried in the cemetery. Though missionary graves make up less than a quarter of the graves at Yanghwajin, the cemetery has become a site of heritage for the Korean Protestant Church. As such, the narratives told there hold enormous sway. In this essay I examine the narratives emerging from the controversy, to determine what they say about the role of missionaries in Korean history, the legacy of those missionaries today, and the relationship of the church to Korea’s modernization. I argue that these narratives selectively craft the story of early missionaries in response to Korean nationalist historiography in an effort to assert the relevance of the Korean Protestant Church to Korean modernization and historical memory.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2167-2040
Print ISSN
2093-7288
Pages
pp. 169-188
Launched on MUSE
2013-05-24
Open Access
No
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