相比中日两国,为什么基督教只在韩国发展壮大? [美国媒体]


Why did Christianity become so popular in Korea but not in Japan or China?


Erik Painter
In all three countries there is an early history of Christianity that mostly failed. Because it was so often true, missionaries were seen as an arm of attempts to colonize these countries. After tolerating it in early times (for example the Mongol Empire had many Nestorian Christians) it was suppressed in all these countries for a long time.


When it was legal in Japan after the Meiji restoration, it was still thought of as a foreign idea in a time when nationalism was on the rise. As Japanese became more and more a modern state the same dynamic that has happened in Western Europe happened. People became much less religious just as people are technically members of the Church in England or France but don't practice much, people in Japan say "married Shinto, Buried Buddhist" but don't do much in between.


In China after the Nestorian times, it had some success with the Jesuits who adapted to fit into Chinese culture, for example venerating ancestors was allowed. As part of a campaign against Jesuits that led to their being disbanded, the Pope declared that they were promoting idolatry. Then the Chinese Emperor banned the Catholics from the court where they had been influential. As China was weakened by the western powers in the 19th century Christian missionaries came to China again. The leadership of the Taiping Rebellion felt they were a kind of Chinese Christian. This fight between 1850 to 1864 led to about 20-30 million deaths. After that missionary work continued. The Boxer rebellion was in part a reaction to their expansion. Under the Nationalist government Christianity grew but the Communists won and suppressed all religion both because it was against classic Marxist/Leninism and because it was historically an arm of foreign power.


The big contrast is Korea. The early history is the same with Christianity being suppressed for its association with colonial powers. But under the Japanese colonialism Christianity began to be seen as a form of resistance to power. The big growth has been since WWII and freedom from Japan. It became culturally associated with the middle class, youth, intellectuals, urbanites, and modernizers and nationalists who were against Japanese oppression.


Before the Korean war, the majority of Christians was in the north. Most fled to the south. Since the Korean War it has been seen as force helping South Korea's pursuit of modernity and emulation of the United States, and opposition to the old Japanese colonialism and Communism of North Korea. Lay and local leadership as opposed to foreign born missionaries have greatly contributed to its growth. Those against the military governments and for democracy were also seen as identified with the Christian movement. Those that are for more social equality are seen being allied with the Christians.


These views and approaches have led to an extremely rapid growth. Today after the US, Korea sends more missionaries abroad than any other country. About 30% are Christian. The new rise of extreme Protestant groups who are hostile to the majority Buddhist population and have defaced statues as "idols" has caused some backlash and may limit future growth.


Patrick Wallace
Christianity first gained substantial ground in Korea during the early years of the Japanese occupation of the country, beginning around 1918, as an expression of anti-Japanese sentiment and Korean nationalism.


As a part of their colonialism, the Japanese had begun a policy of forced Korean assimilation to the Japanese culture. Along with other expressions of the Korean culture, Korean shamanism (Korean shamanism) was banned. Meanwhile, Buddhist temples within Korea were brought under direct Japanese government administration, and steps were taken to refashion Buddhism in Korea so that it closely resembled that in Japan. With this, pro-Japanese sentiment became a requirement for appointment as a Buddhist priest in Korea. However, the bulk of Japanese government religious efforts were spent in a fruitless attempt to convert the people of Korea to Shintoism.


As colonial law in Korea was modeled upon the law in Japan, for many years Christianity was the only form of religion in Korea that existed beyond Japanese government control. With no viable religious competition, Christianity began t0 flourish in Korea, and it soon became an expression of Korean nationalism and anti-Japanese fervor. Indeed, for many years Christian pastors and churches formed the only real opposition to Japanese rule over Korea, and it became a symbol of Korean patriotism to became a Christian and attend church. Even though there have been other Christian revivals within South Korea since colonial rule, the equivalence between Christianity and Korean nationalism appears to be somewhat of a force even to this day.


Neither Japan nor China have enjoyed these special circumstances that have allowed Christianity to flourish in Korea.


In the case of Japan, there was a large Christian revival in the late 16th century, but this was literally stamped out by the Tokugawa regime in the 17th century, with untold thousands of Christian deaths. Christianity in Japan has never been able to recover from this. Most Japanese now see Christianity as something decidedly un-Japanese. A detailed explanation can be found here: Patrick Wallace's answer to How did Christianity affect Japan?.


Prior to World War 2, US thousands of Christian missionaries worked within China. However, for the most part their work was unfruitful. due to anti-foreign sentiment (c.f., the Boxer Rebellion). --Chinese people who became Christians or engaged in Christian work, not out of conviction, but because they wanted a free meal


While Korea did/does have its own indigenous religion, it was mostly suppressed for most of its history (and it still continues today, in North and South Korea). Before that, it had been repressed by the Japanese Colonial Government and the Joseon Dynasty.


Islam did arrive at several points in Korean history, but it fizzled out quickly. However, there was a mosque in Korea long before the first church was planted. The remains are still there, you can (not) visit them in North Korea.


Before the 1900s, Christianity was still a very minority religion, and it would have fizzled out if Japan didn’t invade. .


Koreans like to do strange things with religion, and many cults have emerged over the years. While many people choose to believe in mainstream religions like Buddhism, Catholicism, or Protestantism, a growing number of people are joining groups like Shincheonji, which is the only major Korean cult to make it outside Korea.