Why do the Presbyterians seem to have the Koreans?

I’m not lookin’ to start a theological debate, nor am I trying to be racist in any way, shape, or form.

But today, as I was driving out of my native New Jersey, I noticed and recollected a lot of the churches on my Southern route having services in and for Koreans . . . and they were Presbyterian Churches.

Is there some sorta precedent for this? Did a Presbyterian get to Korea first? Am I missing something?

Catholic by training, Christian by heart.

From what I understand, the majority of Christians in this country are Presbyterians of one stripe or another. Here are three links I find interesting:

The Presbyterian Church of Korea
Overview of the worldwide reformed church
Some statistics for the Presbyterians in Korea

As far as I know, the Roman Catholics got to Korea first; however, the Protestants seem to have done a bang-up job on getting converts.

There’s a Korean Methodist church near me in Tarrytown, NY.

In my part of greater Los Angeles, Korean-language churches seem to be predominantly Baptist, with a some Methodist. I can only recall a handful of Presbyterian.

In Michigan, I used to go to a Christian Reformed. Down here in North Carolina, there is a Presbyterian and a Baptist one, and then nearby there are several others, none of which are Presbyterian that I’m aware of. So I guess I haven’t really noticed it.

I’ve noted that trend, as well, and when I was in high school my church (well, the church my parents dragged me to), a Presbyterian one, took in a Korean Presbyterian church when their church burned down and shared space for awhile. There was some friction, though, due to differing cultural values in childcare mostly. And also the old Presbyterians didn’t really like the smell of the Korean food.

We Presbyterians welcome anyone who will join the potluck. It’s all about the food.

Catholic churches I’ve gone to in NYC and DC had Korean-language Masses listed.

As I understand it, it was the Presbyterians who first translated the Bible into Korean…

I believe that’s correct. Also the first English-Korean dictionary. All this in the 1890’s.

Hehe…I walked in here expecting that the OP had meant to type “hate the Koreans.” Am I the only one?

I was busy thinking of smart-ass replies while the hamsters loaded the page. :cool:

Do they even have deviled egg dishes in Korea? I can’t imagine how you could be a Presbyterian and not own a dish to put your deviled eggs in.

Actually, I believe that the largest Christian denomination today in South Korea is Assemblies of God (Pentecostal). Indeed, the church in Seoul pastored by Rev. Yonggi Cho is said to be the largest single congregation in the world. Since it claims 750,000 members, that seems at very least plausible. There are entire denominations smaller than that.

Please note that it’s hard to find unbiased information on Rev. Cho - or, for that matter, most well-known Pentecostal leaders. To a greater or lesser extent, this is also true of nearly every Christian minister who becomes well-known, almost without regard to denomination.

Many Christians reluctantly agree to variations on the aphorism that “Christianity is the only army (movement/group) which shoots its own wounded (members/leaders).” While there are some who clearly do or did deserve condemnation, I find it a very sad commentary, clearly contrary to the teachings of the One we claim to follow.

Wouldn’t it have been the Catholics who first translated the Bible into Korean?

I think the Catholics were in early but had no concept of the written Korean language. It wasn’t until about the 1890’s that this was done. And I think the first Bibles in Korean were produced in the first decade of the 1900’s.


This article says that a catholic translation wasn’t begun until 1989, finished in 2002, and was just being published in 2003. “Since 1977, the Korean Catholic church has used a version of the Bible that it co-produced with Protestant churches.”

Wikipedia says “Korean Presbyterianism is the dominant form of Christianity in Korea.” but that’s the full text of the article and it provides no cites. The article on Christianity in Korea goes into rather more detail, saying: “Emphasizing the mass-circulation of the Bible (which had been translated into Korean between 1881 and 1887 by the Reverend John Ross, a Scottish Presbyterian missionary in Manchuria, the Protestant pioneers also established the first modern educational institutes in Korea.”