KOREAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
The presence of Orthodoxy in Korea has a history of 110 years. The celebration of the first Divine Liturgy on February 17th, 1900 by Archimandrite Chrysanthos Setkofsky, who was appointed by the Patriarchate of Moscow as head of the Orthodox Mission in Korea, is considered the natal day of the Korean Orthodox Church. Life events of the Orthodox Church in Korea are dated as follows:
ORTHODOX MISSION IN KOREA UNDER THE CHURCH OF RUSSIA
Under the Holy Metropolis of St Petersburg.
1897 On July 2nd the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church decided to establish the so-called “Russian Orthodox Mission “(decision number 2195) in Korea, aimed at serving the religious needs of Orthodox Russians residing in Korea and at the possible spreading of the Holy Orthodox Faith among the native pagan population.
1899 Deacon Nicholas Alexeyef (1869-1952), the first Russian Orthodox missionary arrived in Seoul. In 1901 he was ordained as Hieromonk. He served in Korea until 1903. He returned back in 1908, as there were no priests available for the Mission, and in 1911 left permanently for Vladivostok.
1900 In January of this year, Archimandrite Chrysanthos Setkofsky (1869-1906) arrived in Seoul. He was appointed by the Orthodox Church of Russia as head of the Orthodox Mission in Korea, in place of Archimandrite Ambrose Gkountko, who had been appointed as head of the Church in Korea on October 9th, 1897. He remained in Korea until 1904, when he was expelled by the Japanese because of the Russian-Japanese war. In the same year he was ordained Bishop of Tsempoksarsk and in 1905 he was transferred to the diocese of Elizabetgrand in the district of Cherson. On February 17th, the consecration of a make-shift chapel, dedicated to Saint Nicholas, took place in a suitably equipped room of the Russian Consulate, where the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated.
1902 Deacon Bartholomew Selezniof (1872 -?) arrived in Korea. He departed in 1904, due to the on going Russian-Korean War, but he returned once again to the Korean Mission in 1906, where he served until 1909.
1903 A large Hall of the school owned by the Korean Mission was transformed into a Church and was named in honor of St. Nicholas.
1904 After the Japanese victory in the Russian-Japanese War and the expulsion of all Russian missionaries, mission work stopped operating until 1906.
1906 On August 14, Archimandrite Paul Ivanofsky (1874-1919) arrived in Seoul. He departed Korea in 1912, when he was elected Auxiliary Bishop of Nikolsky in Vladivostok. Hieromonk Vladimir Skrizalin (1868 -?) arrived in Seoul. He served in Korea during the years 1906-1909 and 1911-1917. He was ordained Hieromonk in 1907. During 1909-1911 he headed the Mission branch quarters in Vladivostok. Between the years 1914-1917 he was head of the Korean Orthodox Mission.
In the same year, the novice and Chanter Perevalof Theodore (1875-1933) arrived in Korea. In 1908 he became a monk and was ordained Deacon and Hieromonk in 1911 and was given the name Theodosios. During the years 1911-1913 he headed the Mission’s branch office in Vladivostok. In 1917 he returned to the Mission in Korea and stayed until 1930, when he resigned and left for Tokyo.
Under the Holy Diocese of Vladivostok
1908 The Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow, passed the responsibility of the Orthodox Mission in Korea from the Metropolitan of St. Petersburg to the Bishop of Vladivostok.
1911 The first Korean Orthodox priest, Deacon John Kang-Tak (1877-1939), who was serving as a teacher at the missionary school, was ordained Deacon and in 1912 was ordained as a priest. In 1918 he left the Korean Mission and went to Harbin where he served the Church until his repose in 1939.
1912 Archimandrite Paul departed Korea for Vladivostok where he was ordained Auxiliary Biishop of Nikolsk-Oussourisk and under his new position he oversaw the Orthodox Mission in Korea.
Arrival of Archimandrite Eirinarchos Semanofsky (1873-1923). He directed the Orthodox Mission in Korea for the period of 1912 to 1914.
1913 Luke Kim Hyi Jun, an Orthodox Korean (1881-1929) was ordained Deacon. In 1924 he was ordained as Priest and died in 1929.
1917 Hieromon Palladios Seletsky (1880 -?) arrived in Korea as head of the Mission. He remained in Korea for only three and a half months. In 1917 he defrocked himself and left the Priesthood.
During the same year, after Palladios’ departure from Korea, Hieromonk, Theodosius Perevalof (1875-1933) was appointed as head of the Korean Mission. He held on to this position until 1930, when he resigned and left for Tokyo. HieromonkTheodosius visited Korea for the first time in 1906 as a chanter. In 1908 he was tonsured as monk and in 1911 he was ordained Deacon and Hieromonk. During 1911-1913 he headed the Mission’s branch office (Metochi) in Vladivostok.
Under the Archdiocese of Tokyo
1921 After the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and the victory of communism in Russia,the Orthodox Church encountered notoriously harsh persecution. The Moscow Patriarchate and the Archbishop of Vladivostok, to which the Orthodox community of St. Nicholas in Seoul had been subject to, no longer had any contact with the Church in Korea, nor could they provide any assistance, as it was the case during the first two decades since its foundation. Therefore, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow in its session of November 24th, 1921 decided (decision # 1571) to bring the Orthodox Mission of Korea under the Archbishop Sergius (Tichomirov) of Tokyo. The Archbishop of Tokyo held an advisory role on issues of Mission in Korea and saw to the ordination and appointment of clergy at the Church of St Nicholas in Seoul.
1931 Arrival of the new head of the Korean Mission, Archimandrite Alexander Tsistyakof, who at the time was serving in Manchuria. In 1936 he resigned and departed from Korea.
1932 The Korean chanter Alexey Kim Yi-Han (1895-1950) was ordained as Deacon by Archbishop Sergius of Tokyo. In 1947 he was ordained as Priest. In 1950 he was arrested by the North Korean army and no trace has been found since then.
1935 Apart from the Moscow Patriarchate, another Russian priest came to Korea in 1935, Fr John Trostiansky, who belonged to the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. Father John Trostiansky celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the private church owned by the Giankofsky Family in city Novina, at the north-eastern part of the Korean peninsula, and served there until 1953.
1936 Arrival of Hieromonk Polycarp Priimak (1912-1989) as head of the Korean Mission. He served in Korea until 1949. In 1957 he was ordained bishop of the Russian Church.On June 29th, 1949 the head of the Korean Mission, Archimandrite Polycarp Priimak was arrested by the Korean police on charges of being a Soviet spy and was deported along with his mother. Thus, the first Orthodox Mission in Korea under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate was abruptly ended.
The Korean Mission during the Korean War.
In 1950, as we know, the Korean War broke out (1950-1953). Korean Orthodox believers, like most of their compatriots, suffered badly. Most of them took refuge in the City of Pusan and the southern districts of the country. So the Orthodox congregation dispersed. During this time of trial, important spiritual and material help was offered to the Orthodox faithful by the Greek Expeditionary Force (EK.S.E.) to Korea (1950-1955), who participated in the peacekeeping force of the UN, especially the military chaplains who accompanied the Greek Forces for the purpose of meeting the soldiers’ liturgical needs.
1951 The first chaplain who came in contact with the Orthodox Koreans was Archimandrite Hariton Symeonides (later Bishop of Polyani and Kilkis). Father Hariton Symeonides tried to gather the scattered Flock due to the Korean War.
1953 ~ 1954 Great assistance to the Orthodox congregation was offered by the Greek chaplain Archimandrite Andrew Chalkiopoulos. On his initiative, the ruined church of St. Nicholas in Seoul was renovated through a donating campaign he himself conducted among the Greek soldiers.
1954 Father Andrew Chalkiopoulos, wished to leave a Korean pastor at the church of St. Nicholas before his departure. The Orthodox Community had proposed as a candidate Priest Boris Moon (Moom Yi-Han 1910-1977), who was ordained Deacon and Priest in Japan by the Archbishop of Tokyo Irenaeos, who was the closest Orthodox Bishop in the region. Because of the war and the hostile relations between Korea and Japan during that period, no one was allowed to exit the country, especially travels to Japan. Fr. Andrew Chalkiopoulos managed to obtain the necessary permission for Boris Moon’s trip to Japan for his ordination with the help of the American Army. Disguised as a black American soldier, Boris Moon was included in the group of American Marines who were visiting Japan at the time. After his ordination to Priesthood, he returned to Korea through the same means and served the Church faithfully until his repose on September 14th, 1977.
1954 ~ 1955 A third Greek military priest, Archimandrite Daniel of the Monastery of Iviron of the Holy Mountain, offered his services to the Orthodox Community in Korea.
THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN KOREA UNDER THE ECUMENICAL PATRIARCHATE
The military events of World War II, the suffering of the Korean people due to the harsh Japanese occupation (1910-1945) and the political upheavals in the Korean peninsula had a negative affect in the relationship between the Orthodox Community of Seoul with the Church of Japan. The same thing happened with the Patriarchate of Moscow. After the Korean War (1950-1953), because South Koreans were ill disposed towards Russia, because of its alliance with North Korea, the Korean Orthodox faithful did not want to have any relationship with the Church of Russia. This resulted in the Orthodox Community in Seoul being completely cut off from the rest of the Orthodox Church, that is, virtually not belonging to any ecclesiastical jurisdiction.
This very serious ecclesiological problem was resolved as follows:
1955 On December 25th the General Assembly of the Orthodox Community of St. Nicholas in Seoul unanimously decided to request to be brought under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The Ecumenical Patriarchate accepted the request and since then the Korean Orthodox Church is a Province of the Ecumenical Throne.
Under the Archdiocese of North and South America
1956 By decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate the Korean Orthodox Church came under the guidance of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia firstly, and after a short time under the Archdiocese of North and South America with the Archbishop Michael (Konstantinides) being named Exarch of Korea.
1962 The Archbishop of North and South America Iakovos (Koukouzis) held a pastoral visit to Korea and supported the Orthodox congregation in a meaningful way.
1967 The Church property in Tsong dong Seoul was sold and with the money obtained from the sale, a large plot in Mapo-Ku was bought and the construction of the current Cathedral of St Nicholas began.
1969 Archimandrite Eugenios Papagiannis (Pappas) of the Archdiocese of America was appointed head of the Church of St. Nicholas in Seoul in order to assist the frail Reverend Boris Moon. Fr. Evgenios served in Korea until 1973.
Under the Metropolis New Zealand
1970 On January 8th, the Holy Metropolis of New Zealand was established by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the newly elected Bishop of New Zealand Dionysios (Psachas) was named Exarch of Korea.
1973 Reverend Father Con. Chalvatzakis was dispatched to Korea for six months by the Church of Greece in order to assist the Mission.
1975 On December 1st, Archimandrite Sotirios Trambas [later Bishop of Zilon (1993-2004), later first Metropolitan of Korea (2004-2008) and now Bishop of Pisidia] arrived in Korea from the Archdiocese of Athens in response to a request by the Orthodox Community in Seoul.
His Eminence Archbishop of New Zealand and Exarch of Korea Dionysios through the close co-operation with Father Sotirios Trambas, initially as Archimandrite and later as an assistant Bishop of Zilon, they managed to accomplish together a really wonderful missionary work, which is unprecedented in scope and quality. This work was not limited only to Korea, but from 1980 onwards it was extended to South-East Asia (India, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand). These areas were designated as being under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan of New Zealand. The principal accomplishments of this period, until the establishment of the Holy Metropolis of Korea, are as follows:
1978 The inauguration of the Cathedral of St Nicholas Seoul was held.
1979 The building of the east wing of the Missionary Centre in Seoul and the Chapel of the Dormition of the Theotokos was completed.
1980 The Korean theologian Deacon Daniel Na (Chang-Kyu) was ordained Priest and was appointed vicar of St Nicholas Church in Seoul. He has been serving in the Orthodox Parish in Incheon Since 1985.
1982 The Parish of the “Annunciation of the Virgin” in Pusan was founded. The first Pastor of the provisional Orthodox Church in Pusan was the Korean doctor Athanasios Yu (Yu Ul-jun) who served for nearly three years. He died in 1992. The present newly built church was erected in 1999 and was inaugurated by His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on March 1st, 2000.
1983 The third leading Parish was established in the city of Incheon. Land was purchased for the construction of the Church of St Paul. The cornerstone was laid on March 21st, 1993 and the inauguration of the church was held by Metropolitan of New Zealand and Exarch of Korea Dionysios on August 21st, 1994.
1985 Archimandrite Ignatios Sennis of the Holy Stavronikita Monastery of Mount Athos (now Bishop of Madagascar) was dispatched to Korea. He remained until 1990.
1986 On October 15th, Bishop of New Zealand and Exarch of Korea, Dionysios laid the foundation stone of the Holy Transfiguration Monastery of the Savior in Kapyeong. On October 3rd 1988 he inaugurated the Monastery.
1988 Nicholas (Im Yim) was ordained Deacon and in 1989 he was ordained a Priest. The construction of the Church of St. Andrew in the village of Palang-li was begun. The inauguration took place in October 1989 by the Bishop of New Zealand and Exarch of Korea, Dionysios.
1989 Anthony Woo (Zong-hyon) was ordained Deacon and Priest on October 2nd and was appointed vicar of the Orthodox Parish of Pusan. In 1993 he was transferred to the church of St. Nicholas in Seoul.
On October 8th Stephen Hwang (Gyong-su) was ordained Deacon. On October 14th 1990 he was ordained Priest and was appointed chaplain to the Parish in Jeonjou. Currently he is serving at the Chapel of St. Anne at the Orthodox school “Orthodox Faith.”
1990 The construction of the church of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary in the City of Jeonjou started. On August 15th, 1992 the inauguration of the church was held by the Bishop of New Zealand and Exarch of Korea Dionysios.
1991 Paul Kwon (On-gon) was ordained Deacon (January 13th) and Priest (November 17th) and was appointed Pastor of the parish in Jeonjou. In 2010 he was appointed vicar of the Parish of St. Dionysios in Ulsan.
On May 5th Alexander Han (Yi-jong) was ordained Deacon and on July 1st he was ordained to Priesthood). In 1993 he was appointed vicar of the Parish of the “Annunciation of the Virgin” in Pusan.
Archimandrite Sophronios Gravanis of Mount Athos was dispatched to Korea by the Greek Orthodox Church and served until 1993.
1992 The pastoral care of the Slav-speaking Orthodox faithful living or visiting Korea began.
1995 The Korean Isaiah Kim (Kim Hyeon-Jun) was ordained Deacon (April 2nd).
The first official pastoral visit of His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Korea (8-13 April). His All Holiness laid the foundation stone of the Chapel St Maximos the Greek, the Main Hall, boarding houses and theTheological Seminary “St. Nicholas”.
1996 The “Foundation for the Conservation and Preservation of the Property of the Orthodox Church in Korea” was officially recognized by the Korean Government as Legal Person through which the Orthodox Church in Korea acquired legal status. According to the approved official By-Laws, the Foundation is under the control of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Korean State.
Swiss Priestmonk Marcus Lorettan was appointed vicar of St Nicholas Church, Seoul. He offered his services until 1998.
“St. Nicholas” Theological Seminary began its operation for students from Korea, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.
1997 The publishing house “Korean Orthodox Editions” was founded.
1998 Archimandrite Ambrosios Aristotelis Zographos was dispatched to Korea by the Greek Orthodox Church and was appointed as head of St Nicholas Church in Seoul. In 2004-2006 he was appointed Chancellor of the newly Orthodox Metropolis of Korea. In 2005 he was elected Auxiliary Bishop of Zela and in 2008 he was elected Metropolitan of Korea.
1999 On July the Korean theologian John Pack (……. ) was ordained Deacon and Priest. He was appointed vicar of St. Nicholas Cathedral, Seoul, where he served until 2002.
An Orthodox parish named in honor of St. Boris was established in the City of Ilsan. It operated for two years in rented premises under the care of Pastor Anthony Woo.
2000 His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew visited Korea for the second time, from February 26th to March 2nd. This official pastoral visit was in connection with the completion of the first 100 years of Orthodoxy in Korea.
In May, the Choir of St. Nicholas Seoul took part in the Inter-Orthodox Music Festival in Poland where it was awarded the first prize.
From June 25th to June 30th an International Conferece was held at the Missionary Center in Seoul on “Christianity and Shamanism.”
In July, a small Chapel began operating occasionally in the City of Taejon named in honor of St. Seraphim of Sarov.
In August, Hieromonk Fr Theophanes Kim arrived in Korea, dispatched by the Moscow Patriarchate for the pastoral care of the Slav-speaking faithful residing in Korea.
In August 2001, an International Conference organized by “Syndesmos” was held at the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Lord in Kapyeong on the topic: “Go ye and teach all nations.”
2003 The Korean Jeremias Jo (Jo Gyeong Jin) was ordained Deacon and in 2004 he was ordained Priest and was appointed vicar of the church of St. Boris in Chuncheon.
A piece of land was bought in the City of Ulsan and the foundation stone was laid by His Grace Bishop Sotirios of Zilon for the construction of the church of St Dionysios Aegina. The inauguration of the church was held by His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in 2005 during his third pastoral visit to Korea.
The foundation stone of the church of St. Boris in the town of Chuncheon was laid by on April 5th. The Church was inaugurated by His Grace Bishop Sotirios Zilon on July 17th.
The Church of Korea sent large financial assistance (building materials, cranes, dynamo, air conditioners, etc.) to North Korea for the construction of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Pyeonyang by the N. Koran Government.
The Orthodox Metropolis of Korea
2004 On April 20th the Korean Church was elevated to a Metropolis by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Bishop Sotirios of Zela was elected first Metropolitan of Korea. His enthronement was held on June 20th by His Eminence Archbishop of America Dimitrios, representing the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
The Divine Liturgy was celebrated by His Eminence Sotirios at the Holy Trinity Church in the capital City of Pyeongyang in North Korea.
His Eminence Metropolitan Sotirios laid the foundation stone of the “Care Centre for Elders’ in the Parish of St. Boris in Chuncheon. The Opening Ceremony was held by His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in 2005 during his third pastoral visit to Korea.
2005 From … to …, there was the third official pastoral visit to Korea of His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the occasion of the completion of 50 years of pastoral care of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The running of Summer and Winter English Camps began in the Cities of Pusan and Chuncheon. The daily program includes both catechetical courses and free classes in English for educational purposes. Both Orthodox and non-Orthodox students participate in the program.
2007 The Korean Hilarion Joung (Jong Hyuk) was ordained Deacon. In 2010 he was ordained Priest and was appointed vicar of the Parish of the Dormition of the Theotokos in Jeonju.
On November 10th, an international Conference took place at the Missionary Center in Seoul on the occasion of the completion of 1600 years since the repose of St. John Chrysostom. The topic was: “St. John Chrysostom: Yesterday and Today.”
2008 On May 17th the Korean Agathi Pack was tonsured as the first Korean Orthodox Nun. She resides at the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration in Kapyeong-Korea.
2009 On December 6th the Opening Ceremony of the bookstore of the Holy Metropolis of Korea in Seoul “Book Caf? Philokalia” was held.
From January 7th to 21st members of the Parish of “The Dormition of the Theotokos” in Jeonju made a pilgrimage trip to Greece, the Holy Land, Mt. Sinai and Egypt.
Several books on Orthodox spirituality and theology were published by the “Korean Orthodox Editions” publishing house.
2010 From January 19th to 25th, the Choir of the Cathedral of St Nicholas toured the Cities of Argos, Arta, Mesoghaia, Athens and Aegina and gave performances with Church and Korean Traditional Music.
On February 28th the bookstore “Logos” of the Parish of St. Paul in Incheon was inaugurated.
The website of the Orthodox Metropolis of Korea orthodox.or.kr was updated.
On May 29th the Holy Metropolis of Korea organized an International Symposium on “Friend or foe? Death in the Orthodox Theology and Tradition” as part of the celebrations for the completion of 110 years of Orthodox witness in Korea.
On the occasion of the same anniversary, the Holy Metropolis of Korea invited the Greek Byzantine Choir “Maistores of the Art of Psalmody” and for the first time ever in Korea as well as in the whole of East Asia the Byzantine Chant was heard in three performances in Seoul and one in Pusan.
2011 From January 8th to 21st members of the Cathedral of “St. Nicholas” Seoul and the “Dormition of Theotokos” in Jeonju made a pilgrimage trip to Greece, Holy Land, Mt. Sinai and Egypt.