Korea's Religious Places - 3.8 Ganghwa Anglican Cathedral, Ganghwado Island
|Understanding Korea Series No.6|
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|7)* Geumsan Presbyterian Church, Gimje||8)* Ganghwa Anglican Cathedral, Ganghwado Island||1) Cheondogyo (Donghak)|
Ganghwa Anglican Cathedral (Ganghwado Island, Incheon)
The Anglican Church has a headquarters building near City Hall in the center of Seoul, but the first Anglican Church was built on Ganghwado Island. The Seoul Anglican Cathedral was built in 1922, but the Ganghwa Anglican Cathedral was built in 1900.
The interesting thing about the Anglican Cathedral on Ganghwado Island is that it was not a Western building. Like the Geumsan Presbyterian Church, this was a hanok building, unlike the other churches that were being built in Seoul, which were mostly built in Western styles such as Gothic, Victorian, and Romanesque. This was the first Western church built with Korean architecture. The Anglicans did it again in 1923 on a small island near Ganghwado Island: the Seodo Anglican Cathedral was also built in Korean hanok style.
The 1900 cathedral was built by the first bishop of the Anglican Church of Korea for a Korean member who had been baptized as early as 1896. The first Korean Anglican priest was ordained in 1915, and his documentation is preserved in the cathedral. The interior of the church is somewhat Western in its arrangements, but the exterior is clearly Korean, or hanok, and is somewhat reminiscent of a Buddhist temple or a Confucian shrine. At any rate, it is clearly a symbol of the desire to indigenize of the Anglican Church.
Missionaries from England were among the first to come to Korea. One reason the Anglicans on Ganghwado Island built hanok churches was that the Western-style churches built elsewhere were built of bricks and other materials that were foreign to Korean builders, making it necessary to bring in foreign workmen from the West or China. The Chinese were experts in building with bricks, whereas the Koreans were not. But to build a Korean-style building allowed them to hire local artisans who could easily build the structure to be used as a church.
The history of the Anglican Church is like the other Christian churches that had an early beginning in that they, too, suffered the slowdown and suppression of their work and their growth during the Japanese occupation from 1910 to 1945. But their work progressed after liberation, and in 1965 the first Korean bishop was ordained. It was not, however, until 1993 that the Korean Anglican Church obtained its own governance. Prior to that it was administered directly by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Its theological seminary became the Anglican University (Sungkonghoe University) in 1992. There are about 65,000 Anglicans in Korea today.