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date: 11 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

In late nineteenth-century Korea, American-style hymn-singing and the related practice of praying began in missionary churches as the number of Christian converts grew at an exceptional rate that was not replicated in any other parts of Asia. Born within the context of colonial pressures from the United States and Japan, Korean Christian singing and praying in the early-twentieth century exhibit a trans-Pacific genealogy of the modern Korean voice, that is, a genealogy that materialized at the intersection of Pacific colonial projects, local experiences, and pre-existing cosmologies. This chapter investigates Korean Christian singing and praying by examining missionary and Korean records, as well as some Japanese colonial sources. Activities directed by the missionaries, hymn-singing, and praying among Korean converts reflected a network of American aesthetic, moral, and economic ideologies. The author argues that Korean Christian singing and praying formed a complex site in which North American religious practices and Korean social mobilization converged in the contexts of Japanese colonialism and US–Japan rivalry in the Pacific. This inquiry allows the author to hear and describe not a Korean voice in mimesis of or opposition to the West, but a trans-Pacific voice, exhibiting a trans-Pacific genealogy. The voice, then, can be understood as a kind of technology through which Korean converts negotiated their way into a “global history” not as full agents or subjects, but in their markedly compromised positions, within multiple shifting power relationships.

Keywords: American missionary, colonialism, early twentieth century, Japanese colonialism, Korea, Korean Christians, praying, social mobility, singing, religion

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