DE SAM LAZARO: He says the Yoido church is adding 10, 000 members every year — this in a country where there were hardly any Christians a century ago. Nowhere, at least in recent history, has Christianity grown so much in such a short period. It may have much to do with Christianity’s place in recent Korean history. Unlike many other countries where Christianity was brought by missionaries, in Korea the church is not part of a colonial legacy. The colonial power here was Japan, and churches were involved very closely with the Korean independence movement. Although some Catholic influences in East Asia date back to the late 1700s, the first missionaries — American Presbyterians — arrived in the late 1800s.
Rev. HA (through translator): The missionaries 120 years ago came and built schools first. They established junior high, college, medical facilities, and they evangelized the noble families. So when we were still under Japanese, those intelligentsia — they linked that believing in Jesus Christ is equal to working for Korea’s liberation movement.
DE SAM LAZARO: And for a country that’s seen unprecedented growth in wealth and prosperity in the past four decades, it’s not hard to believe in miracles. Korea today is considered a developed country with a standard of living equal to some European Union nations.