In 2010, nearly 30 percent of South Koreans - a country with a Confucian tradition over one thousand years old - identify as Christian, the second largest percentage of Christians in an Asian nation. Korea boasts of having the largest church in the world; it also has the largest Presbyterian, Methodist, and Pentecostal churches in the world. Its vibrant spirituality, devout church life, and missionary zeal are well-known around the world; its number of missionaries - nearly twenty thousand - is second only to US churches.
How can we explain this religious revolution in modern Korea? Many people look to the 1970s and 1980s to find the cause of the rapid growth of Christianity in Korea. But to understand the real story behind the growth of the Korean church, we need to rediscover the story of the American missionary enterprises of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. There, we will learn how the story of the "American Christ" came to Korea and gradually became a part of the Korean people's story. After the missions, he is no longer the American Christ, but Jesus of Korea.
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