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Thousands of Korean Christians join Easter Sunday rally

About 4,000 attend event dubbed the first large-scale Easter parade in more than a century
Participants attend a parade to celebrate Easter in Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul on April 9, 2023

Participants attend a parade to celebrate Easter in Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul on April 9, 2023. (Photo: AFP)

Published: April 11, 2023 08:29 AM GMT
Updated: April 11, 2023 11:58 AM GMT

About 4,000 Christians joined a rally in the South Korean capital Seoul on Easter Sunday in what was billed as the first large-scale Easter parade since Christianity arrived in the country four centuries ago.

The parade, organized by inter-denominational United Christian Churches of Korea, started from Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Square and passed through Seoul Plaza, and ended at the square, The Korea JoongAng Daily reported on April 10.

Kam Kyung-cheol, a parade organizer, said that it was “the first large-scale Easter parade in central Seoul in the 140-year mission history of Christianity in Korea," referring to the beginning of Protestantism in the nation.

Yi gwang-jeong, a Korean diplomat stationed in Beijing, was the first to introduce the concept of Catholicism to the majority-Confucian nation in 1603, according to the Association for Asian Studies.

Protestantism was introduced following the arrival of Methodist missionary Horace Allen in 1884 and Presbyterian missionary Horace Underwood the next year.

The parade attendees added various displays as part of the procession which included both religious and non-religious elements.

Some of the displays included models of the Ark of the Covenant, a cross, and large inflated chick balloons among others. Participants joined with musical instruments, skates, and unicycles.

The parade also included a percussion band, a choir, and a traditional mask dance performance.

As part of the festivities, the organizers organized an Easter music concert at Gwanghwamun Square in the afternoon.

President Yoon Suk Yeol, and his wife Kim Keon Hee attended the Easter Sunday service at Youngnak Presbyterian Church in central Seoul.

On the same day, Archbishop Peter Soon-taek Chung of Seoul during an Easter Sunday service at Myeongdong Cathedral reminded the attendees of the harsh conditions faced by people in neighboring countries and called for support from Koreans.

"Let us open our eyes to the fact that there are neighbors under harsher difficulties and start from something small through which we can extend a warm hand and walk together," Chung said.

Over the past century, Christianity has experienced exponential growth in Korea, from about 1 percent in the 1900s to nearly one-third of the population today.

According to official government records, about 56 percent of South Koreans have no religion, about 30 percent are Christians and 15.5 percent are Buddhist.

Protestant Christians make up the majority and the Catholic Church has about 5.6 million members spread across three archdioceses, 14 dioceses, and a military ordinariate.

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