South Korea Church Records

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
South Korea Wiki Topics
Flag of South Korea.svg.png
Beginning Research
Record Types
South Korea Background
Local Research Resources

For information about records for non-Christian religions in South Korea, go to the Religious Records page.

Online Resources and Websites[edit | edit source]

Historical Background: Christian Church Records (Gidok Gyo-in Kirok)[edit | edit source]

  • Religion in South Korea is characterized by the fact that a majority of South Koreans (56.1%, as of the 2015 national census) have no formal affiliation with a religion. Protestantism represents (19.7%) of the total population and Catholicism (7.9%). A small percentage of South Koreans (0.8% in total) are members of other religions, including Orthodox Christianity.
  • Foreign Roman Catholic missionaries did not arrive in Korea until 1794.
  • Protestant missionaries entered Korea during the 1880s and, along with Catholic priests, converted a remarkable number of Koreans. The lack of a national religious system gave a free hand to Christian churches. Methodist and Presbyterian missionaries were especially successful.
  • Many Koreans began to migrate to Russia in the 1860s and many of them subsequently converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Orthodox missionaries entered Korea from Russia in 1900.
  • A large number of Christians lived in the northern part of the peninsula (it was part of the so-called "Manchurian revival") where Confucian influence was not as strong as in the south. Before 1948, Pyongyang was an important Christian centre: one-sixth of its population of about 300,000 people were converts.
  • Following the establishment of the communist regime in the north, an estimated more than one million Korean Christians resettled to South Korea to escape persecution by North Korea's anti-Christian policies.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in South Korea was established following the baptism of Kim Ho Jik in 1951.
  • In 2013, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria was first established in Seoul for Egyptian Copts and Ethiopians residing in South Korea.[1]

Information Recorded in the Records[edit | edit source]

Different denominations, different time periods, and practices of different record keepers will effect how much information can be found in the records. This outline will show the types of details which might be found (best case scenario):

Baptisms[edit | edit source]

In Catholic and Anglican records, children were usually baptized a few days after birth, and therefore, the baptism record proves date of birth. Other religions, such as Baptists, baptized at other points in the member's life. Baptism registers might give:

  • baptism date
  • the infant's name
  • parents' names
  • father's occupation
  • status of legitimacy
  • occasionally, names of grandparents
  • names of witnesses or godparents, who may be relatives
  • birth date and place
  • the family's place of residence
  • death information, as an added note or signified by a cross

Marriages[edit | edit source]

Marriage registers can give:

  • the marriage date
  • the names of the bride and groom
  • indicate whether the bride and groom were single or widowed
  • their ages
  • birth dates and places for the bride and groom
  • their residences
  • their occupations
  • birthplaces of the bride and groom
  • parents' names (after 1800)
  • the names of previous spouses and their death dates
  • names of witnesses, who might be relatives.

Burials[edit | edit source]

Burial registers may give:

  • the name of the deceased
  • the date and place of death or burial
  • the deceased's age
  • place of residence
  • cause of death
  • the names of survivors, especially a widow or widower
  • deceased's birth date and place
  • parents' names, or at least the father's name

How to Find Records[edit | edit source]

Digital Copies of Church Records in the FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

Watch for digitized copies of church records to be added to the collection of the FamilySearch Library. Some records might have viewing restrictions, and can only be viewed at a Family History Center near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations. To find records:

a. Click on the records of Korea.
b. Click on Places within Korea and a list of towns will appear.
c. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
d. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the listing for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the record is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the records.

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

You will probably need to write to or email the national archives, the diocese, or local parish priests to find records. See Letter Writing Guide for Genealogy for help with composing letters. English is taught extensively in the school system.

Catholic Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing to Archives[edit | edit source]

Older Catholic church records are in the archive of the Catholic archdiocese in Seoul, more recent records are at the local parish. The Korean Catholic church has its records well preserved in the Archdiocesan archives in Seoul.[2]
Archdiocese of Seoul
Secretary's Office
Myeongdong-gil 74
Seoul, Korea

Telephone: 02-727-2023

The secretary's office currently serves as the headmaster and assistant bishop of the Seoul Archdiocese, conducts business contacts, correspondence, schedule adjustments, visitor information, document arrangements, and preparations for meetings, as well as other principals and assistant bishops.

Writing to a Local Parish[edit | edit source]

Earlier records can be held at the diocese, with more recent records still kept in the local parish. To locate the mailing address or e-mail address for a diocese or local parish, consult:

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The Catholic Church in South Korea is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome. At the end of 2017, it had 5,813,770 members (11.0% of the population) with 5,360 priests and 1,734 parishes. Catholicism (and Christianity in general) in Korea more generally began in 1784 when Yi Seung-hun was baptized while in China under the Christian name of Peter. He later returned to Korea carrying religious texts, and baptized many fellow countrymen. The Church in Korea continued without formal missionary priests until a Chinese priest, Zhōu Wénmó arrived in 1794.

During the 19th century, the Catholic Church was targeted by the government of the Joseon Dynasty chiefly for the religion's opposition to ancestral "worship", which the Church perceived to be a form of idolatry, but which the State prescribed as a cornerstone of Korean culture. Despite a century-long persecution that produced thousands of martyrs, the Church in Korea expanded. The Apostolic Vicariate of Korea was formed in 1831, and after the expansion of the Church structure over the next century, the current structure of the three Metropolitan Provinces, each with an Archdiocese and several suffragan Dioceses, was established in 1962.[3]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Records[edit | edit source]

Online Records[edit | edit source]

Online information is available to current members, for deceased members and immediate family members who are still living. Sign in to FamilySearch and then select Family Tree in the drop-down menu.

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Latter-day Saint servicemen first brought the Church's teaching to Korea in 1951, during the Korean War. Among the first Korean members was Ho Jik Kim, converted while earning a doctorate in the United States. Kim became an influential leader in the Korean government and paved the way for missionaries to enter Korea. The first official missionaries arrived in Korea in 1954. They learned to speak the language, and they taught many young students. The Korean Mission was created on July 8, 1962, with seven branches (small congregations) of the Church. Total Church Membership: 88,418. Congregations: 103.[4]

Eastern Orthodox Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Korean Orthodox Church[edit | edit source]

The Korean Orthodox Church or the Metropolis of Korea is an Eastern Orthodox diocese under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in Korea. In 1897, in view of the increased presence of Russia′s government officers in Korea, the government of the Russian Empire made a decision to send Russian Orthodox missionaries to Korea. Archimandrite Ambrosius Gudko led the three-person team, but was refused permission to enter the country.

In 1900, a more hospitable atmosphere between Russia and Korea allowed a second missionary team led by Archimandrite Chrysanthos Shehtkofsky to begin an outreach in Seoul. He was joined in Korea by Hierodeacon Nicholas Alexeiev of the original team, and chanter Jonah Leftsenko. On 17 February 1900, in a makeshift chapel the first attested Orthodox Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the Korean peninsula.

The first Orthodox church was constructed in Jung Dong, Jung-gu, the central area of Seoul in 1903 and was consecrated in honor of Saint Nicholas (the building has not survived). However, with the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910—1945) came a period of persecution of Orthodox Christian believers.

In November 1921, the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate terminated its support of the Church of Korea, and subsequently the Japanese Orthodox Church gave up its jurisdictional authority. Thus, in 1946, the Orthodox Church of Korea was put into the position of having to organize itself as a parish. As the Korean War broke out in 1950, the Orthodox Christian community in the region was dispersed and the organized forms of church life were disrupted. In 1953, Army Chaplain Archimandrite Andreas Halkiopoulos of the Military Forces of Greece was made aware of Korean Orthodox faithful and arranged for a parish in Seoul to be reestablished. On 25 December 1955, after the Christmas Divine Liturgy, the General Assembly of the Orthodox Community of Saint Nicholas in Seoul unanimously decided to request being received in the jurisdictional authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.[5]

Coptic Orthodox Church in Asia[edit | edit source]

  • In 2011, Coptic immigrants in Korea formed a Coptic Orthodox community in Korea. The responsible priest is Fr. Philopateer Wadie.
  • The church address in Seoul, Mapo-gu, Donggyo-dong, 170-33. Facebook
  • There also are small communities in Pohang and Gyeongju.[6]

Methodist Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The Korean Methodist Church is a large Methodist denomination in South Korea, with approximately 1.5 million members. Methodist missionaries came from the United States in the late 19th century. It became independent in 1930, and celebrated its centennial in 1984. The denomination has ties with its mother church, the United Methodist Church.[7]

Presbyterian Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

In South Korea, there are roughly 20.5 million Christians of whom 15 million are Protestants; of those some 9 to 10 million are Presbyterians. Presbyterians in South Korea worship in over 100 different Presbyterian denominational churches who trace their history back to the United Presbyterian Assembly.

Protestantism was introduced to Korea in the late 19th century through missionaries. Lay people like Seo Sang-ryun and Baek Hong-Joon spread their knowledge of the Gospels after their conversion, and Christianity began to grow again in Korea.

In 1883, Seo founded the first Protestant Christian community in Korea. The Presbyterian Church of Victoria began mission work in 1889, followed in 1892 by the Southern Presbyterians, and in 1898 by the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Together they formed the Council of Mission of Presbyterian Churches.

During and even somewhat before the Japanese occupation, churches from practically all Christian denominations faced many hardships and were actively persecuted by the Japanese administration. Following the conclusion the Second World War, the withdrawal of Japan, and the partitioning of Korea, Presbyterian churches in the communist-leaning northern parts of Korea were dissolved. In the Syngman Rhee-led parts of Korea south of the 38th Parallel they were reconstructed in 1946. The 33rd general assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Chosun was held in 1947. Two years later the name "Presbyterian Church in Korea" was adopted.

The following year saw significant growth for the Presbyterian church in Korea. Among the reasons contributing to the growth in size of Christian communities in Korea was the fact that unlike in other countries, Christianity was not associated with colonial or imperialist power. Eventually, Korean Christians established their own churches not just in Korea but in other parts of the world. Today there are more than 100 Presbyterian churches/denominations in South Korea.[8]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Religion in South Korea", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 2 April 2020.
  2. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Korea,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1986-2001.
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Catholic Church in South Korea", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 1 April 2020.
  4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "Facts and Statistics: South Korea,, accessed 2 April 2020.
  5. Wikipedia contributors, "Korean Orthodox Church", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 2 April 2020.
  6. Wikipedia contributors, "Coptic Orthodox Church in Asia", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 2 April 2020.
  7. Wikipedia contributors, "Korean Methodist Church", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 1 April 2020.
  8. Wikipedia contributors, "Presbyterianism in South Korea", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 1 April 2020.