Korean Orthodox Church

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Korean Orthodox Church
Hangul 한국 정교회
Hanja 韓國正教會
Revised Romanization Hanguk Jeonggyohoe
McCune–Reischauer Hanguk Chŏnggyohoe

The Korean Orthodox Church (Korean: 한국 정교회) is an Eastern Orthodox church in Korea.

In 1897 the Russian Orthodox Church resolved to send missionaries to Korea by decision of the Holy Synod in July 1897. Archimandrite Ambrose Gountko led the three-person team, but was refused permission to enter the country.

In 1900 a more hospitable atmosphere between Russia and Korea allowed for 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 February 17, 1900 in a makeshift chapel the first known 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 is named in honor of Saint Nicholas. However, with the Japanese occupation of Korea from 1910 - 1945 came an intense period of persecution against Orthodox Christian believers. In spite of persecution in 1912 Fr. Ioannis Kang, the first native Korean Orthodox priest, was ordained.

In November 1921 The Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow ended its support of the Church of Korea, and 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.

The year 1947 saw the ordination of a third Korean priest, Fr. Alexei Kim, just as the last Russian priest departed the country. Father Alexei was the sole priest of the Orthodox Church left to serve the people of Korea. Just three years later, on July 9, 1950, he was captured and disappeared without record. As the Korean War descended upon the land the Orthodox Christian community in the region was dispersed and the formal practice of the faith disrupted.

However, in 1953, Army Chaplain Archimandrite Andrew Halkiopoulos of the Military Forces of Greece was made aware of Korean Orthodox faithful and arranged for a parish in Seoul to be reestablished.

The following year Korean Orthodox Christian Boris Moon was ordained by Archbishop Ireneus of Japan in Tokyo. Then, on Christmas Eve of 1955, by unanimous decision the Korean Orthodox community chose formally to come under the jurisdictional authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

In 1975, Archimandrite Sotirios Trambas volunteered to serve in the Korean mission of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. During the ensuing years, he founded a monastery, several parishes both in Korea and in other places in Asia, and a seminary.

In 1993, the Holy Synod of Constantinople elected Archimandrite Sotirios Trambas as Bishop of Zelon and Auxiliary Bishop to the Metropolitan of New Zealand. In this role, Bishop Sotirios served as Exarch of Korea. On April 20, 2004, the Exarchate of Korea was raised to the rank of a Metropolis and Bishop Sotirios became the first Metropolitan of Korea.

On May 28, 2008, Metropolitan Sotirios of Korea, the first Metropolitan of the Orthodox Metropolis of Korea retired and was given the title of Metropolitan of Pisidia. On the same day, Bishop Ambrosios of Zelon and Auxiliary Bishop of the Metropolis was elected to succeed Metropolitan Sotirios as the Metropolitan of Korea.

Today there are ten Korean Orthodox parishes with several hundred members in South Korea, as well as one monastery. Additionally, in 2006 the government of North Korea supported the establishment of at least one Orthodox Christian parish (of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate) in the capital Pyongyang: Church of the Life-Giving Trinity.[1]


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