In general, the history of Protestant churches in Korea can be classified in nine phases.
1. Dawning of Churches in Korea (Downing - 1885)
At the dawning, Korea met Western Christianity. Churches were naturally linked to foreign civilization during the period, focusing on administration and church theory. However, such links ended with mere contacts, not moving on to the next level. Major contacts with Western missionaries are as follows:

1) Karl Friderich August Gutzlaff: Gutzlaff came to anchor in Chungcheong province in 1832 in order to open a new trade market for the East India Company. He distributed the Bible before he left Korea. After investigating the soil and natura1 resources, he foretold that God would bless the nation for development. He also predicted that Jeju Island would be able to serve as the center for trade and mission to Asia. However, his initial purpose of visit was trade rather than mission.

2) Rev. Robert Jermain Thomas: Born in Wales in 1839 as a pastor's son in Hanover Church, Thomas was called to become a missionary at a young age, and learned language and medicine at New College Seminary. Graduated from the seminary in 1863, he married Caroline Godfrey. After becoming a pastor, he was dispatched to Shanghai, China on July 21, 1863 as a missionary of the London Missionary Society (LMS). However, four months after he arrived to Shanghai, his wife passed away while he was traveling the mission field. Deeply disappointed, he handed in his resignation to LMS Shanghai, and left for Chefoo in Shandong province (Min Kyung-Bae, The History of the Korean Protestant Church, Seoul). Working as an interpreter for the Chinese Customs Office, he made the first encounter with Korean people, Catholics who had fled from persecution. While meeting with them, Thomas was called to mission in Korea. In 1865, he came to Korea and stayed two-and-a-half months on the west coast, learning language, culture, and geography. It was kind of a field investigation before taking a real mission. After he went back to Beijing, he joined LMS again. Meeting with people from Korea, he prepared his mission to Korea. In 1866, he was scheduled to come to Korea as an interpreter for the French Far East Fleet, but the plan was changed. So, he went aboard a U.S. trader, the General Sherman. At the Daedong River in Pyongyang, they had a battle with Korean soldiers because the Koreans didn't allow them to land. The ship was burned and Thomas was beheaded alongside the river. At the very moment, he distributed his Bible. It was on September 2, 1866. He is known as the first Protestant martyr in Korea.

3) Alexander WIi1liamson: Williamson was a friend of Rev. Thomas. He provided the Chinese Bible and traveling expenses to Thomas. His friend's martyrdom drew his attention to mission in Korea, but he was too motivated even to suggest the use of arms. However, he could not open the Korean Gate that was firmly closed.

4) John Ross & J. McIntyre: Ross and McIntyre were on mission in Manchuria sent from the National Bible Society of Scotland. They didn't go to Korea for mission, but made a glorious contribution to Korea by completing the translation of the Bible with Korean people such as Seo Sang-Ryun, Kim Jin-Gi, Baek Hong-Jun, and Lee Seong-Ha, etc.

2. Realization of Mission (1885 - 1904)
American missionaries, H. G. Underwood and H. G. Appenzeller landed in Incheon on Easter Day in 1885. Protestant churches in Korea have regarded that day as the first day of mission. In fact, the Korean version of the Bible was already published in Manchuria in l882. Underwood had the Book of Mark translated by Lee Soo-Jeong in Japan. It means that the seed of Gospel had already been sowed in Korea even before the coming of the two missionaries. This is a unique case that mission was carried out internally without external support. An American medical missionary, N. Allen arrived in Seoul in September 1884. However, missionaries had no freedom of mission in the actual term. That was why they took an indirect way of mission by establishing schools or facilities, including Paijai School, Ewha School, Kyungshin School, and Widespread Relief House. Freedom of church wasn't mentioned in the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the United States of America and Korea. Voices were heard about the acceptance of the Christian religion horn conservative Min Yeong-Ik or progressive Park Yeong-Hyo and Kim Ok-Gyun. Despite such efforts, mission was not legally permitted.
3. Revival and Establishment of the Church (1905- 1910)

By the year 1909, re1igious schools totaled 950, including 605 Presbyterian schools, 200 Methodist schools, and other denominations as well. Founded in 1903, YMCA presented fresh spirits to youth. Protestant churches played a very important role in society through sports, discussion, culture, and etc. Bible translation recognized the significance of the Korean language. Hymns also contributed to developing modem or popular songs.

Among various events, the most dramatic one was the great revival in Pyongyang in 1907. The revival focused on repentance rather than revival itself: When Methodist missionaries held a joint prayer meeting in Wonsan in 1903, R. A. Hardie, a Southern Methodist Church missionary, confessed his inability to gain any fruits out of years of activities in Gangwon province. His repentance lit the fire. The congregation witnessed Hardie's sincere confession and fullness of the Holy Spirit. Participants also experienced the Holy Spirit, and the fire of revival began to blaze gradually. The news in Wonsan was delivered to missionaries in Pyongyang. Christians in Pyongyang invited Hardie for a prayer meeting in 1906. They held other meetings in Jangdaehyun Church in Pyongyang the next year and experienced the fire of the Holy Spirit. As Gil Seon-Ju led repentance, the place was filled with the Holy Spirit. The revival in 1907 took place by the work of God and the Holy Spirit for saving Korean people. After the incident, Korean churches secured a more solid foundation as churches.

4. Beginning of Suffering in Church (1910- 1919)

On August 22, 1910, Korea was annexed to Japan. It was the starting point of organized persecution to Korean churches. The [Japanese] Governor-General of Korea, Terauchi realized that Christianity was the stronghold of resistance to Japan, and decided to eradicate the religion. As Christianity was spread in the Northwestern region, he fabricated an incident of conspiring to assassinate the Governor-General. As a result, 157 people were apprehended and many were imprisoned to die. Around the time of annexation, many people left their homes for the Northern region because of financial hardship. Migrants reached over 500,000 and their lives were miserable indeed.

With regard to the March First Movement, 33 representatives signed the Declaration of Independence on March 1, 1919. Among them, 16 people were Christians. During that time, independence movements started from the church. Christians accounted for the majority of human and property losses. In other words, Christianity was the core of the people's movements.

5. Confrontation to Changes in Society (1920- 1929)

In 1920, Korea confronted serious changes in the society. Communism spread many intellectuals as if the theory could be new hope for salvation instead of Christianity. In such changes, Lee Gwang-Soo attacked theological Christianity, lack of aboriginality, and conservatism that failed to meet social changes. He urged that Christianity should not continue to separate God's work and worldly things but be more social so as to realize the divine providence within history. The DongA and Chosun newspapers recommended that churches should take care of social problems, living with poor people.

Confronted with social changes, some Christians judged that the existing church structure was not prepared to respond to them. So, they moved toward sectarianism, declaring different forms of churches. Kim Kyo-Shin insisted on the non-church movement. Proclaiming Bible studies and the non-church movement, Kim began to publish ˇ®Bible Chosun' in 1927. Ham Seok-Hon also joined him. Kim focused on establishing people's Christianity, keeping the ethical purity of innocent Christians, and inspiring people with faith and hope.

Ultimately, such sectarian movements led churches to carry out the ecumenical movement. In fact, the Association of Presbyterian and Methodist was organized in 1918 and became The National Council of Churches in Korea in 1924.

At that time, people began to criticize the theology education. As Pyongyang Seminary maintained its education with conservative missionaries, Kim Jae-Jun and Kim Yeong-Joo proclaimed a new theology of higher criticism.

6. Mystic Spirituality (1930-1940)

In the 1930s, changes had arisen on the surface in churches, caused by signs of separation in Presbyterian churches and frustration caused by shrine worship, etc. People began to seek different forms of spirituality- Christians' commitment to social participation turned to mysticism and pessimism.

One example is the eschatological faith proclaimed by Rev. Gi1 Seon-Ju. Christians used to sing, ˇ°O turn ye, O turn ye, for why will ye die?ˇ± in revival meetings. People also sang their hope for eternity. Gil declared the apocalyptic world and peace with his knowledge of the Book of Revelation because he read the book over l2,000 times. People will remember Rev. Gil as a person who gave hope to people alongside with Kim Ik-Du.

Another example is the mysticism led by Lee Yong-Do. The arising of such faith was inevitable for Korean churches in the 1930s. Lee said that no other spirituality cou1d exist except for the desperate love for Christ. In this sense, his faith can be defined as the ˇ°mysticism of the suffering Christ.ˇ± With his faith, Lee experienced the joy of forgetting worldly things, which led him away from the world. In order to express such an ecstatic sense of unity with God, Lee used sensua1 words such as bedroom, embrace, kiss, etc. However, he couldn't forget Christ's suffering on the cross. So, his faith was always related with lamentation for Christ. The despair and frustration of the Korean people might have reflected on this faith.

Another examp1e is the mystic spirituality led by Back Nam-Ju. Park Gye-Ju, a writer, once joined him. Baek's belief is that God and Christ exist in a person, and the person becomes divine. If Lee Yong-Do hadn't met them, he might not have ended his life so miserably.

Hwang Gook-Joo is another figure. Hwang had made improper remarks that his head was replaced by Jesus. In the darkest period, Korean churches had been in confusion related with cults.

7. Suffering from Shrine Worship (1940-1945)

Protestant churches had grown in the Japanese colonial period, so it was inevitable that there would be confrontation with the Japanese regime. Japan worshiped their Emperor but Christianity proclaimed the one and only God. Shrine worship was directly linked with the Emperor. Korean churches resisted such practice.

However, each denomination had a different opinion. Catholics and Methodist Churches mostly accepted that the practice of shrine worship was just a ceremony. On the other hand, the Presbyterian Church clarified the practice as idolatry. Despite closing of schools in 1938, the Presbyterians resisted aggressively. In the end, Pyongyang Seminary, Soongsil and Boseong schools were closed. In the case of other churches, the Baptist and Holiness churches lost their religious bodies due to resistance.

8. Restructuring of Churches after Liberation (1945-1960)

After liberation, churches started reconstruction. However, serious issues came out of churches in North Korea. In September 1948, imprisoned Christians insisted on the deep repentance of churches, a two-year confinement of ministers who worshiped the shrine, and confirmation of elders or deacons. In a hearing in November 1948, Hong Taek-Gi refused such assertions - In fact, Hong took charge of deciding the shrine worship. Hong said that repentance should be made personally in the relationship with God. Against this backdrop, the opponents created the ˇ®Restoration Church' in 1949, pursuing meetings of innocent Christians.

In the North, communists strive to eradicate Christianity. To do this, they decided on a national election to be executed on Sunday on November 3, 1946. When Christians disobeyed, the communists took such a response as an obstacle to socialism and that the Christians were a mere tool of U.S. aggression. The communists founded the so-called Christian Federation and b1ackmailed Rev. Kim Ik-Do to join the Federation. Once Christians joined it, the communists suppressed them.

In such turmoil, the Korean War broke out. Even before reconciliation and forgiveness were formed in a Christian council, people came upon a tragic war. While people withdrew to the South and cried out to God in their prayers, churches had been on their way to separation. The war led churches to separate between genuine and traditional.

No exact count is available for the damages to Korean churches caused by the war. Approximately, churches destroyed during the war were Presbyterian: 152, Methodist: 84, Holiness: 27, Salvation Army: 4, and others. During wartime, 232 people were martyred or abducted. In the debris of war, churches needed to play a pivotal role in uniting the people and to show commitment to harmony and unity. However, Presbyterian churches were divided in 1952, Methodist churches in 1954, fol1owed by Ho1iness and Baptist churches. Before the eyes of people and history, churches began to lose their true selves.

9. Development of Self-Awareness in Korean Churches (1961- )

In the 1960s, churches came to recognize the significance of building Korean style theology. Due to the painful separation of churches, more people desired to see the unity, proclaiming the ecumenical theory. On March 8, 1966, for the first time in Korea, Catholic and Protestant Churches gathered to have a joint service in Chodong Church. The two Churches translated the Bible together for publication in 1971. The number of Evangelical churches soared remarkably. Their faith touched people. Churches pursued numerous gatherings beyond the boundary of church and denomination. They carried out the evangelical movement under the banner of ˇ®Thirty Million to Christ' in 1965, and held ˇ®Explo 74'.

On the other hand, the academic field actively participated in mission in cities or industries and human rights movements. They tried to interpret the meaning of poor and suppressed people according to the Gospel. Churches in other countries are seen today as being in the post Christian era. But Korea has kept its conscience and vitality, drawing attention from every church in the world. In the 21st century, Korean churches will become the living witness of churches.

When Protestantism was introduced, Korea had encountered the collapse of the Choson Dynasty and the annexation to Japan. Through crisis, the Korean people lost their identity and remained in confusion and anxiety. In such conditions, Protestantism infiltrated deep inside of Korean society and mentality. The religion also made people aware of their identity, expressing their spirituality and vitality.