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Kimchi and Maple Leaves under the Rising Sun: The Story of Canadian Presbyterian Involvement with the Korean Church in Japan. (Reviews).

by Robert K Anderson (Essence, 2001, $25).

Reviewed by Ronald Wallace.

Rev. Robert Anderson and his wife, Priscilla, served as missionaries with the Korean Christian Church in Japan (KCCJ) from 1966 to 1974 and 1977 to 1983. From the beginning, Anderson developed a strong interest in the history of the Korean Church in Japan. His research is based primarily on documentary sources such as minutes of the Federal Council of Churches and Missions in Korea, minutes and annual reports of the Presbyterian Mission Council in Japan, annual reports of the missionaries, and records of the deliberations of the Board of World Mission of The Presbyterian Church in Canada (PCC), supplemented by personal interviews with some key people involved.

Anderson describes two stages in the initial Christian mission to Koreans in Japan. First, a ministry beginning in the 1880s to Korean students going to Japan to pursue higher education. Then, following the Japanese annexation of Korea in 1910 up to the beginning of the Second World War, to hundreds of thousands of Korean peasants, dispossessed of their traditional lands, who immigrated to Japan in search of work.

He describes the pioneer work of Rev. Luther Young, who arrived in Japan in 1927 under a joint appointment of the PCC and the Federal Council of Churches and Missions in Korea The initial ministry of gathering the Korean Christians into congregations culminated in the formation of the self-governing, but not fully self-supporting, Chosen (Korean) Christian Church in 1934. Anderson counters the conception that this period in the history of the Korean Church in Japan was one of missionary dominance. He points out that, from the beginning, Young's ministry was overseen by Koreans, first by Koreans from the churches that were part of the federal council and then by the General Assembly of the Chosen Korean Church.

During the Second World War, the KCCJ was compelled to take part in a government enforced union of all Protestant churches in Japan. With the defeat of Japan and the liberation of Korea in 1945, most pastors and members of the pre-war Chosen Korean Church returned to Korea. The few who remained reorganized the church under Korean leadership and invited the Canadian missionaries to return, which they did. Anderson describes the tensions that characterized the early post-war period when an autonomous KCCJ was, nevertheless, heavily dependent upon Canadian funds administered by the revived mission council. He explains how this situation was eventually resolved by negotiation between the PCC and the KCCJ. An agreement made the KCCJ responsible for both overseeing the ministries of the Canadian missionaries working with them and administering whatever financial aid they might receive from the Canadian church.

Throughout his history of this ongoing relationship between the KCCJ and the PCC, Anderson seeks to relate his account to the wider context of Korean, Japanese, Canadian and world history, and to ongoing developments in the theology and practice of mission. The main weakness of the book is one on which Anderson comments: the nature of his sources. They are impersonal documents that tend to focus on the work being done with little personal detail about the people doing the work. Anderson's book tells much about the work of various Canadian missionaries who served with the Korean Church in Japan but, unfortunately, he is not able to tell much about them: what led them to go to Japan to work among the Koreans, what kept them there or caused them to return, or their hopes and joys, their sorrows and frustrations.

Despite this limitation, this is an important book. It is the first and only account of the missionary relationship between The Presbyterian Church in Canada and the Korean Christian Church in Japan, bringing under one cover material that would otherwise be inaccessible to most readers. Anderson's book should be of interest not only to people in these two churches who have an interest in missions but also to scholars of mission who will find in this account a useful case study in mission history.

Ronald Wallace a minister of St. Andrew's Church in Lindsay, Ontario, is a former missionary with the Korean Christian Church in Japan.
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Author:Wallace, Ronald
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 2001
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