Two sacred tales in the Seoul metropolis: The gospels of prosperity and development in modernizing South Korea

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Abstract

This article examines the ways in which the emergence of the Seoul Capital Area offered both opportunities and challenges to religious actors in modernizing South Korea. South Korea rebuilt itself from the ruins of the Korean War through an accelerated process of urbanization and industrialization in accordance with a state-led modernization drive. This process, in turn, led to an unprecedented population concentration in Seoul and its surrounding area, where new political and economic centers emerged side-by-side with slums and shantytowns. Amid this turbulent social change, some of today’s most well-known Protestant leaders – especially Pentecostal Cho Yong-gi and Calvinist Kim Chin-hong – joined the caravan of rural-to-urban migration and commenced their ministries in Seoul, adapting their religious messages and practices to address the social aspirations of the growing urban population. This article demonstrates that despite their shared concern for the problem of urban poverty, Cho Yong-gi and Kim Chin-hong faced successes and failures in different ways as they adopted ministerial programs of the gospel of prosperity and the theology of development, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-578
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Compass
Volume66
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019

Keywords

  • prosperity gospel
  • religious aspirations
  • South Korea
  • theology of development
  • urban poverty

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