The Mystery Behind Korean Miracle
South Korea created miracles out of a mess in the second half of the twentieth century. They have built an industrial production and export giant called Han Miracle and a democratic culture. They also began to create a cultural fever worldwide called the Korean Wave. However, what makes the Korean modernisation story unique compared to other development experiences in Asia is neither its industrial development nor its democratisation. The rapid Christianisation, especially the Protestantisation of Korea, which walks alongside modernisation, is what makes this story special. Catholics entered Korea first, but they failed due to various reasons. Then, a peasant movement called Tonghak, which is organised around a syncretic religion named Cheondogyo, began to rise. They even started a nationwide uprising and gained massive supporters, but they could not succeed in expanding aggressively after the Japanese occupation. The latest comers, the Protestants, eventually became the largest religious group in South Korea. The Protestants studied the Catholics’ failure and the Tonghak movement’s success well and created a syncretic folk religion that did not exclude local religious elements. This syncretism was the key to their mind-blowing success in South Korea.
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