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current location : Home Exhibition Permanent Exhibition Catholicism’s Tribulation

Catholicism’s Tribulation

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The Christianity in Korea Room houses artifacts relating to the Nestorian heritage, the historical origins of Korean Christianity and the acceptance of the Catholic faith, the growth and persecution during the later period of the Joseon Dynasty, the spontaneous acceptance of Protestantism and the activities of Protestant missionaries, and Korean bibles, all of which offer an insight into the development of Korean Christianity.

The Spontaneous Acceptance of Catholicism and the Maturation of Faith

From the 17th century onward, Western science and inventions were introduced to Joseon society by Korean emissaries to foreign nations. Joseon government envoys engaged in academic and religious exchange with missionaries residing in Beijing, and brought Chinese translations of Western scientific literature to the nation, triggering the academic interest of Joseon's intellectuals. Some of the latter party avidly read these Western texts and developed their intellectual curiosity into a religious concern. Scholars such as Kwon Cheol-sin, Lee Byeok, and Jeong Yak-yong organized the ‘Western Science Doctrine Research Association' in 1777 to support practice of the Catholic faith, and began to research Western science and Catholic writings. They adhered to the precepts of Catholic doctrine, praying in the morning and evening, and this faith movement ultimately developed into a faith community committed to preaching Catholicism and researching its doctrines. The museum features Chinese translations of Western science texts, preaching groups, lists of believers, doctrinal works, and other artifacts. These offer a glimpse at the development of Catholicism in its early stages, from the initial academic approach to the faith to the spontaneous acceptance of the faith by the people and the formation of a faith community.

Sacred Vessels of Catholicism
Sacred Vessels of Catholicism
altar 132.6×36.6×47.9cm
adormment 40.4×33.8×13.5cm
chalice(1) 18.0×18.7cm
chalice(2) 17.4×12.6cm
List of Baptismal Names
List of Baptismal Names
1790 A.D.
32.2×47.6cm
This is a list of the baptismal names conferred on Jeong Yak-jong in 1790 by Korea's first priest, Lee Seung-hun.
The Oldest Catholic Bible in Korean Hangeul (Korean Alphabet)
The Oldest Catholic Bible in Korean Hangeul (Korean Alphabet)
Late 18th c. A.D.
21.6×14.3cm
Commemoration Medals of Three Martyrs
Commemoration Medals of Three Martyrs
0.2×2.2×2.2cm

The Sufferings and Persecution of Catholicism

Wider Joseon society followed the Seongrihak or Neo-Confucianism faith, so Catholicism was regarded as a heterodoxy that threatened the existing order and was consequently rejected. Likewise, Seongrihak upheld Confucianism that moral principles should be protected and practiced, while Catholicism°™embracing the notion of the equality of all people°™was to be rejected. The Joseon government branded Catholicism as the science of aggressive foreign forces, barbarians no less than birds and beasts; Catholics were attacked and persecuted by the Joseon government for about 100 years, until the signature of the Korean-French Treaty in 1886. Anti-Catholicism reached a peak in 1866 when about 8,000 Catholics, including nine foreign priests, laymen, and faith leaders, were martyred. Displayed in this exhibition are items of Catholicism's persecution literature and martyrdom records such as the Official Notice Banning Catholicism, the Royal Proclamation to persecute Catholicism, and the Gihaeilgi (Record of the Persecution of Catholicism, 1839).

Royal Proclamation to Persecute Catholicism
Royal Proclamation to Persecute Catholicism
1839 A.D.
35.7×23.0cm
In 1839, the Joseon government branded Catholicism as heterodoxy, executed three foreign priests and 100 Catholics, and, in order to justify this act, the king proclaimed an order to persecute Catholicism.
Official Notice Banning Catholicism
Official Notice Banning Catholicism
1807 A.D.
41.0×26.3cm
Portrait of Jeong Yak-jong
Portrait of Jeong Yak-jong
Late 18th c. A.D.
61.5×29.0cm
Cheonjuseonggyogonggwa (Formal Catholic Prayers)
Cheonjuseonggyogonggwa (Formal Catholic Prayers)
1864 A.D.
20.3×13.4cm

The Publication of Catholic Documents

The Korean Catholic Church, amid suppression and persecution by the Korean government, strove to promote its faith; in particular, Korean believers wrote a catechism in Korean and disseminated it, thus greatly contributing to the popularization of the Catholic faith. Meanwhile, foreign fathers copied the catechism from China and spread it, translating it into Korean, and published various Catholic catechism books by opening wood-block printing houses. As such, with extensive printing and the spread of catechism books, the Catholic faith gradually extended its influence, further prompting the popularization of Hangeul (Korean alphabet).

Seongchalgiryak (A Guide to Catholic Meditation)
Seongchalgiryak (A Guide to Catholic Meditation)
1864 A.D.
18.1×11.7cm
Jugyoyoji (Substance of Catholicism)
Jugyoyoji (Substance of Catholicism)
1797 A.D.
20.5×13.5cm
Written by Jeong Yak-jong, the first Chairman of the Catholic Church Association, it was the first catechism to be published in readily comprehensible Korean about God's existence and attributes, Christ's incarnation and salvation, and other aspects of Christian belief.
Discourse in a Dream of Lee Byeok
Discourse in a Dream of Lee Byeok
1777 A.D.
32.0×19.8cm
인쇄
최종수정일 :
2010.11.26