Some tears of religious aspiration: dynamics of Korean suffering in Post-War Seoul, South Korea

by Jin-heon Jung

Working Papers WP 12-19
October 2012
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

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This paper aims to demonstrate urban religious aspirations that articulate Protestant churches’ socio-political location in the Seoul landscape through analyses of some prominent Korean church founders’ conversion narratives. By historicizing and contextualizing religious accounts that have mobilized a series of massive conversions in post-war South Korea, I want to shed light on a nucleus of Korean Christian practices that arise out of the aspirations that inspire a war-scarred people in search of a better life in this world and the next. My preliminary comparative analyses of some Korean church founders’ religious accounts reveal that suffering, whether personal or national, appears as central in the narrativization of their conversion experiences and serves to further the church traditions they founded. With comparative analyses of two religious leaders’ contributions to Christianity, this article discusses the extent to which past suffering serves to foster a religious aspiration that is reified with the increasing number of mega-churches in Seoul’s metropolitan landscape, and, through missions, on the world map.

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