Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 July 2022
This chapter examines Protestantism’s relationship with human dignity in South Korea against the backdrop of the country’s modern history from the early stage of Protestant mission to the country’s democratization. Protestantism enshrines the biblical view of humankind as God’s creation. Since the first Protestant missionaries were sent to Korea in the late nineteenth century, Protestantism has influenced Koreans to respect the intrinsic value of every person. Protestant churches even played a vital role in protecting and promoting human dignity during the course of the country’s modernization, democratization, and economic development. This chapter demonstrates how Korean Protestants adopted and practiced the idea of human dignity, mainly focusing on their complicated responses to the country’s unstable political and social situations. Despite the risk of oversimplification, the chapter investigates this crucial topic by dividing the history of modern Korea into the three distinct periods: 1) early Protestant mission through Japanese colonization, 1884–1945; 2) independence through the Korean War, 1945–53; and 3) postwar national reconstruction through democratization, 1953–87.