Back to All Events

Cathedral Forum: Protestant Missionaries in Korea and their Impact

Since the late 19th century, Protestant (mainly American) missionaries have profoundly affected Korean society. Their activities affected not only on the spread of Christianity, but also education, health, women’s rights, and resistance to Japanese colonialism.

However, Korea’s foreignness also often changed the missionaries. For example, could the missionary just preach the Gospel, or would it be necessary first to provide health or education services in order to succeed? Would the missionary retain a fully American identity, become partly Korean, or “go native?” How much would a missionary family open its private household space to Korean converts?

In this Forum, William Mako and Eunok Lee explore the ways in which the missionaries and Korean society affected one another. They also consider Christianity’s history and prospects in North Korea. Strikingly, Christianity was far more established in the North than in the South prior to the division of the peninsula in 1945, and Pyongyang was regarded as “the Jerusalem o Asia.” Eunok is a graduate of Ewha Women’s University in Seoul, founded by Methodist missionaries in 1886, while William has worked and lived in South Korea off and on over many years.

Sunday, March 24, 2019 at 9:45am in the Fleetwood Room.


The Cathedral Forum is a weekly lecture series with topics that range from theology, politics and spirituality to economics and literature. The forum regularly features prominent speakers from academia, the media, and journalism.