Three Dynamic Grassroots Groups in Contemporary Korean Christian NRM History
The new religious movements (NRMs) initially emerged in the regional societies of East Asia in the middle nineteenth and early twentieth centuries including Joseon (Korea). The socio-political transformation from feudalism to modernisation emaciated the religiosity of the traditional beliefs (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, shamanism, and folk religions). Colonial Korea experienced the major turning point in which various syncretic NRMs surfaced with alternative visions and teachings. What is, then, the historical origin of Christian NRMs? Who are their leaders? What is their background? What is the main figure of the teachings? How did they survive? This paper explores the history of Korean Christian new religious movements from the 1920’s Wonsan mystical movements to 1990’s urban and campus movements. Through the contextual studies of denominational background, birth, founder, membership, key teachings, evangelical strategy, phenomenon, services, sacred rituals, globalisation, and media, the three grassroots groups of Guwonpa (Salvation Sect: Good News Mission), WMSCOG (World Mission Society Church of God), and Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (SCJ) are argued as the most controversial, yet well-globalised organisations among ethnic Christian NRMs in contemporary Korea.