Seoul is currently the megachurch capital of the world, though with stagnating attendees. The stagnation is mainly due to mounting criticisms surrounding the inordinate amount of wealth possessed by the megachurches. Hence, the author decided to study four reputable megachurches in Seoul that are still thriving as stable congregations, while defying increasing accusations. About 743 survey questionnaires were collected and analyzed from these four megachurches. The results show that these churches came up with innovative ways that highlight their pure intentions in deepening their relationship with God by: (1) better understanding God’s words (expository preaching based on Biblical literalism); (2) selflessly praying to God for others’ health (healing ministry through intercessory prayers); (3) fulfilling God’s message of promulgating the Gospel (slimming of the congregation while denying admission to switching members); and (4) striving to renounce worldly possessions and the desire for power (owning no church property and limiting the tenure for senior minister and elders). Their creative dedication to service reveals their purpose of pursuing God’s kingdom and realizing his righteousness in the world, thusly proving that megachurches are not in fact merely corporate businesses or interest groups, but vital organizations that are capable of carrying out God’s command on a grand scale.
The majority of Korean young adults prefer to identify with no religion. In this social context, how can we explain the religious landscape for Korean young adults? In order to answer it, I focus on three mission universities (i.e., schools affiliated with religious denominations) in the Western area of Seoul, utilizing mixed methods, such as surveys and interviews. The findings are as follows. On an institutional level, campus ministry centers, facing crises, have adopted different innovative strategies. Chapels of Protestant universities have adopted networking strategies with secular and utilitarian values, such as providing career preparation and cultural shows. Catholic University recently installed a retreat program by adopting reflexive and spiritual strategies without religious hues, and it seems to have been quite successful with many students. On an individual level, statistical analyses on students show the tensions between religiosity and secularity: the latter seems to be of the greater influence than the former. However, Christian young adults show higher levels of social commitment than non-religious young adults. In sum, this study explores the religious marketplaces of Korean young adults, and explains the social implications of religious innovations created in response to social changes. However, there still remain many unresolved riddles about how secular change and religious innovation might function dynamically in religious marketplaces.
The main questions of this article are: (1) how does religion function in the life of migrants? and (2) how do migrants practice their religion in a new place far from their home? This article analyzes the characteristics of Hyehwa-dong Filipino Catholic Community (HFCC) in Korea through ethnographic fieldwork, surveys, and semistructured interviews. The characteristics of HFCC as a migrant community can be seen in three aspects: belief, practices (including rituals and festivals), and community. Firstly, members of HFCC have a strong faith in God, who they believe sent them to Korea and helps them with their life in Korea. Secondly, they more actively practice their religion than when they were in homeland. Various activities allow them to practice Filipino Catholicism. Thirdly, HFCC is a strong network in both practical and spiritual ways. The members not only regard HFCC as a Catholic community but also a spiritual family. In HFCC, Filipinos are able to practice their religious cultural identity. Also, it is a network that allows them to create their own social and religious capital. These characteristics provide Filipino migrants with an opportunity to reaffiliate themselves with the Filipino society in Korea. Furthermore, Hyehwa-dong, known as the Korean SoHo, seems to become Filipino territory every Sunday, namely reterritorialization. Finally, the emergence and growth of HFCC contributes to Korea’s becoming a multicultural country.
This article first traces how the Yeongdeungpo Urban Industrial Mission (YDP-UIM) applied their innovative strategies to the Guro Industrial Complex (GIC) and the Korean society from the 1960s. This article explains the sociohistorical and theoretical implications of YDP-UIM under the supervision of the Presbyterian Church of Korea into the following three aspects. First, many democratic labor unions supported or led by YDP-UIM played a significant role historically in establishing the Korean Federation of Trade Unions. Second, credit unions introduced to the GIC by YDP-UIM saw unexpected success in protecting GIC industrial workers from falling prey to institutionalized usurers, and the National Credit Union Federation of Korea has grown today to become the world’s third largest credit union federation. In-depth interviews with YDP-UIM’s leading activists, however, repeatedly reveal that their practical innovation was the result of their self-reflective interaction with industrial workers alienated from religion itself as well from established society. Finally, these interviews point out how and why the positive relationship between religious innovation and free competition posited by religious market theorists should be revised, both theoretically and empirically, in the Korean context.
This study explores the sociocultural challenges of North Korean refugee physicians in adjusting to the capitalistic South Korean healthcare system, focusing on how they establish their identities as professionals in transitional contexts. The older generation of refugee doctors came under the influence of the jeongseong undong (Devotion Movement) in North Korea, which directed physicians to care for patients with sacrificial sincerity. However, prolonged economic hardship fundamentally transformed the patientdoctor relationship in North Korea. After the breakdown of the North Korean healthcare system, doctors were only able to make a bare living. Those who were older and of higherrank in medical society suffered more despair and hardship, which resulted in their initial resistance to adjustment in South Korean society. In the process of reconstructing professional identities, older physicians pursued an integrated adjustment which was legacies of the Devotion Movement. In contrast, the younger generation of North Korean refugee physicians strived to assimilate into the South Korean medical society.
Since the 1990s, the number of fare-exempt elderly people using the subway has greatly increased. The younger generation views the elderly male passengers known as kkondae (slang for old, annoying people) with contempt. On the subway, one can often witness the elderly male passengers scolding the young people for not offering their seats to the elderly, or for their naive attitude towards security—thereby disrupting the peaceful atmosphere of the subway. This study thus examines the pattern of subway usage by elderly men, the insults that they experience from the younger generation, and how they respond to these insults by asserting a higher moral stature. Through this, rather than merely understanding these conflicts as a case of “cantankerous older men,” it investigates how male elder passengers’ efforts to recuperate a damaged sense of self constitute a struggle for recognition within a “non-place,” the subway.