Orthodox Witness in the Korean Peninsula. A Historical Approach

By Bishop Ambrose – Aristotle Zographos (Cho Song Am)

Metropolitan of Korea

The Orthodox Church is already in the second century of its presence in Korea. From its official inception in 1900 to this day, it has been through many phases of rise and decline, of adventures and great blessings. Its historic course has been greatly influenced and marked by successive national hardships as well as international political developments.

The goal of the present study is to present the various historical phases of the Korean Church, in order to offer the reader the chance to get acquainted with a largely unknown,[1] side of the missionary activities of the Orthodox Church in the Far East.

An accurate and independent record of the history of the Orthodox mission in Korea cannot be complete without a thorough research on the archives of the Moscow Patriarchate, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and of the Orthodox Metropolis of Korea. This paper is based, directly or indirectly, on these three main sources.  In addition, oral testimonies of survivors, descendants of the first Korean Orthodox faithful, are taken into account.

While the limited scope of this article does not permit a detailed description of the events of the last 115 years, an effort will be made, by all possible brevity, to present—with brevity and integrity—the people involved and the events of the entire period under study. There will also be particular reference to the Orthodox Diaspora in Korea.


The idea to start an Orthodox mission in Korea came from the Secretary of the Russian diplomatic mission in Seoul, Nikolai Alexeyevitch Swischy. In the spring of 1889, Swischy sent a detailed memorandum to his superiors, through which he convincingly proposed the creation of a Russian Orthodox Mission in Korea.[2] Swischy’s proposal was met with much deliberation and it was finally implemented about a decade later. Thus, the work of Orthodox witness in the Korean peninsula officially began by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1900. In theory, the missionary work of the Russian Orthodox Church continued until 1949, in practice, however, it had long before stopped offering assistance to the Korean flock, because of the difficulties the Russian Revolution of 1917 had brought about. In 1955, at the request of the Korean Orthodox faithful, the Ecumenical Patriarchate took the Orthodox Church of Korea under its pastoral care, and this care has continued unabated to the present. The main historical events of the life of the Orthodox Church in Korea, under different Orthodox ecclesiastical jurisdictions, are as follows:
Under the Metropolis of Saint Petersburg.
On July 2, 1897, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Russia,[3] based on a previous decision by Tsar Nicholas II of 20 June 1897,[4] founded in Korea the “Russian Orthodox Mission” (decision nr. 2195), aiming to “serve the religious needs of the Orthodox Russians who lived in Korea and the possible spread of the holy Orthodox Faith among the indigenous pagan population.”[5] According to this decision, the Russian mission in Korea would belong ecclesiastically to the bishopric of Saint Petersburg while the Tsar’s Fund would provide all financial support. On October 9 1897, the Holy Synod elected the Priest-monk Amvrosii Gudko (1867-1917 / 18)[6] as head of the Orthodox Mission in Korea, bestowing him with the office of archimandrite. The members of the first missionary group that was decided by the Synod of the Orthodox Church of Russia to be sent to Korea consisted, apart from Archimandrite Ambrosii, of deacon Nicholas Alexeev and a chanter named A. Krassin. Yet, due to difficulties, they could not acquire a visa for Korea and so they remained in the Oussouri province waiting to be allowed to enter Korea. Later on, the Holy Synod was forced to revoke the appointment of Archimandrite Ambrosii because of problems that had arisen in Novokievsk between Archimandrite Ambrosii and the military officials of the military regiment that had settled there.[7] Two years later, in 1899, deacon Nicholas Alexeev (1869-1952),[8] arrived in Seoul. He was the first Russian missionary to arrive in Korea,[9] bringing along vestments, liturgical books, icons and various other sacred items.[10]

In January 1900, Archimandrite Chrysanf Shchetkovsky (1869-1906),[11] having been appointed by the Orthodox Church of Russia as new head of the Orthodox Mission, arrived in Korea, replacing Archimandrite Ambrosii Gkudko, who had been previously appointed as head of the Korean Mission on 9 October 1897. On February 17 1900, in a suitably decorated hall of the Russian Consulate in Seoul and on the Feast of Martyr St.Theodore Tyron, the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated and a temporary chapel, dedicated to St. Nicholas was consecrated. Thus, February 17, 1900 is considered the “birthday” of the Korean Orthodox Church.

Ever since his arrival in Seoul, the main concern of Archimandrite Chrysanf was the construction of an Orthodox church. Yet, despite all his efforts, no construction occurred. For this reason, Fr. Chrysanf was forced in 1903 to form a temporary chapel in one of the school buildings he had managed to construct. This building, along with another house complex that housed mission staff, was erected on a plot adjacent to the Russian diplomatic missions in Chong-Dong, a very central location in Seoul. The church of St. Nicholas was consecrated by Archimandrite Chrysanf on 17 April 1903. [12] The following year, however, the work of the Mission was interrupted for two years, following the victory of the Japanese during the Russian-Japanese War (1904-1905). At that time, all Russians, along with all missionaries, were expelled from Korea. Missionary activity restarted in 1906 with the new Head of the Mission, Archimandrite Pavel Ivanovsky (1874-1919).[13]

As reported by Archimandrite Feodosii,[14]Archimandrite Pavel Ivanovski arrived in Seoul, along with his four assistants:  Priest-monk Vladimir Skrizalin, Deacon Bartholomew Selezniof, who had just returned from the Orthodox Mission in Manchuria, a novice monk Theodore Perevalov,  who would serve as cantor and choir master, and the teacher Constantine Siegfried. Shortly after that, more missionaries arrived, such as the brothers Constantine and Nicholas Pirozkov, who were sent by the Archdiocese of Vladivostok with the specific mission to sing in the church and to help with the catechetical work. The first who arrived in Seoul on 14 August 1906 were Archimandrite Pavel, Deacon Bartholomew and two young Russians, and soon others followed.  Thus, in early 1907 the mission in Korea was operating with a relatively full staff.

During his time, Archimandrite Pavel Ivanovski made great progress because of his charismatic personality and godly zeal for the Orthodox mission in Korea.  Among his most important accomplishments are the spreading of the missionary efforts in the provinces, the operation of missionary schools, and the translation of liturgical books into Korean. He alsoset to music all the translated hymns and created a church choir.[15]

Under the Diocese of Vladivostok

According to a decision made by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, the responsibility for mission work in Korea was assigned to the Bishop of Vladivostok by the Bishop of Saint Petersburg in 1908.[16]

In 1911, John Kang-Tak (1877-1939), who had previously served as a teacher at the mission school, was ordained a deacon.[17]  He was the first Korean Orthodox member of the clergy.. Deacon John was subsequently ordained to the priesthood in 1912. Shortly after, in 1918, he withdrew from the Mission in Korea and went to Harbin, where he served at the local church until his death in 1939.

In 1912, Archimandrite Pavel Ivanovski was elected by the Holy Synod of the Russian Church as Auxiliary Bishop to the Archbishop of Vladivostok, under the title Nikolsky-Oussourisk. He was replaced by Archimandrite Irinarhos Semanofsky (1873-1923), who was appointed as head of the Mission in Korea.[18] During his time, Luka Kim Hyi-Jun (1882-1929), a Korean who held a Russian citizenship,[19] was ordained a deacon on 11 August 1913 by the Archbishop of Vladivostok and Kamchatka Eusebius. Luka had been a teacher at the Orthodox Mission school. The work of Archimandrite Irinarhos (1912-1914) at the Mission in Korea ended very quickly without any substantial results.

After Archimandrite Irinarhos, the responsibility of the Orthodox Mission in Korea was undertaken by the Priest- monk Vladimir Skrizhalin (1914-1917).[20]  Although Vladimir had been in Korea since 1906 and had substantial experience concerning mission work, he was not entrusted with the authority of being head of the Mission. This disappointed him, because while he had assumed all the responsibilities of the supervisor, he was not given any rights or privileges to exercise his duties. As a result, he acted only within the limits of the decisions and orders made by Bishop Nikolsk-Oussourisk Pavel, who retained the authority over mission work.[21]

In 1917, the Priest-monk Palladii Seletski (1917)[22] was assigned as head of Mission in Korea. His short stay in Korea (three and a half months) was marked with the closure of Mission schools, the dismissal of the Korean teachers and the unjust campaign  of some Korean Orthodox laymen  against the innocent bishop Nikolsky-Oussourisk Pavel of Vladivostok (who had been supervising the Orthodox mission in Korea), in which, to some extent, he participated himself.

In 1917, the Priest-monk Feodosii Perevalov (1917-1930) was appointed as head of the Mission in Korea.[23] He held this position until 1930, when he resigned for health reasons and departed for Tokyo.

Father Feodosii’s tenure as head of the Orthodox Mission in Korea came in a very critical period, due to the Russian Revolution of 1917. The suffering Moscow Patriarchate along with the Archbishop of Vladivostok, under whose jurisdiction the Orthodox community of Saint Nicholas in Seoul belonged, had no longer any communication with Korea, nor could they provide any support in any way, as it was previously the case during the first two decades of its foundation. Due to the lack of financial resources, not only could they not maintain salaried teachers, catechists and employees for the needs of the Mission, but also the missionaries themselves found it hard to meet their living necessities. In a letter to the Archbishop Eusebius of Vladivostok, who at the time was in Moscow as a member of the Holy Synod of the Russian Church, Father Feodosii vividly describes the hardships of the existing situation. This letter constituted the main reason for the transfer of the Mission from the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical authority of Vladivostok to the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Archdiocese of Tokyo.

Under the Archdiocese of Tokyo

Archbishop Eusebius of Vladivostok presented this letter of Priest-monk Feodosii to the Moscow Patriarch Tikhon and he, in turn, presented it to the Holy Synod. On November 4, 1921 the Holy Synod unanimously decided (decision no. 1571) on the Patriarch’s proposal to bring the Orthodox Mission in Seoul under the jurisdiction of the Russian Archbishop of Tokyo, Sergii Tikhomirov, who was the nearest Orthodox Bishop to Korea,[24] with the Church of Korea keeping its previous independent status.[25] This decision was to take effect on the day the Mission would receive formal note, something that occurred on 16 January 1922.[26]

From 1931 to 1936, Archimandrite Aleksandr Chistyakov (1931-1936)[27] who had served in Manchuria, headed the Orthodox Mission in Korea. In 1936 he submitted his resignation to the Archbishop Sergii of Tokyo and left Korea.

During the era of Archimandrite Alexandr, an attempt was made to interfere with the ecclesiastical status of the Russian Orthodox Mission, most probably because of the spiritual bond that had been created between the Mission and the ecclesiastical province of Harbin in Manchuria. On November 7, 1933, the Holy Synod of “the tramontane Russian Supreme Ecclesiastical Administration” commissioned the supervision of the Russian Orthodox Mission in Seoul to the Bishop of Kamchatka, Nestor Anisimov, who belonged to the “tramontane Administration” and received the title of Archbishop. On 13 April 1934 he decided to change the title of the bishopric See of Nestor, who lived in Harbin, to that of “Kamchatka and Seoul”, thus, putting into question the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan of Tokyo, not only on the Orthodox Mission there, but also in Korea.[28] Through this decision Nestor was awarded the supervision of the missionary work carried out in the northern part of Korea, which till then was held by the Archbishop of Harbin and Manchuria Meletios.[29]

Bishop Nestor felt terribly towards Metropolitan Sergii (who belonged to the hierarchy of the Russian Church, which had appointed him Bishop of Tokyo and remained loyal to the Patriarchate of Moscow), because he presided in his ordination (1916) as Bishop of Kamchatka, Assistant of the Province of Vladivostok, and had maintained friendly relations with him. Bishop Nestor even sent letters to Sergii, in an effort to justify himself and asked to be forgiven. However, under the pressure of the prelates who participated in the Synod of Karlovci, Bishop Nestor claimed the supervision of the Orthodox Mission in Korea. Ultimately, however, he was not accepted in Korea and the Orthodox Mission remained under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan of Tokyo.[30]

The “Tramontane Supreme Russian Ecclesiastical Administration” as early as 1925 had begun missionary activity in the northern provinces of Korea, sending from Harbin missionaries to preach the gospel, while in a neighborhood village, near the Sino-Korean border, he built a church for Russian immigrants, who had arrived in Korea from Manchuria. Among these missionaries was Pavel Afanasief, who had served in the Orthodox Mission in Korea (1915-1918) as a cantor and had gone to North Korea as an independent missionary. By 1929 he had brought to Orthodoxy 120 Koreans of Pyeong-yang.[31] With the blessing of Archbishop Meletios of Harbin, Afanasief founded in 1931 a missionary station in Pyeong-yang and in two years he managed to catechize and bring to the Orthodox faith more than 450 Koreans, of whom 50 were active parishioners. Father Pavel Afanasief received the monastic tonsure from Meletios and in May of 1933 he was ordained as a Priest-monk.[32] He built a private chapel in Pyeong-yang to serve the needs of a small flock. No further information exists on the activities of Fr. Pavel Afanasief after 1939.[33]

According to Fr. Dionysius Posdyaev, in 1936 the Orthodox Mission in Seoul saw fit to build an Orthodox chapel near the river Oboe in North Korea,[34] presumably to prevent or inhibit the expansion of the action of the missionaries of the “Tramontane Russian Supreme Ecclesiastical Administration” in the northern part of the peninsula.

In 1932, the Korean cantor Alexis Kim Yi-Han (1895-1950),[35] was ordained as a deacon by Archbishop Sergii Tikhomirov of Tokyo, who in the meantime had been promoted as Metropolitan by the Patriarchate of Moscow.

During these very critical years, due to the political conditions in Russia, the bond of the Moscow Patriarchate with Korea was almost nonexistent.

In 1936, the Priest-monk Polikarp Priimak (1936-1949)[36] arrived in Korea to begin service as head of the Orthodox Mission. He was the last Russian missionary in Korea. He served until 29 June 1949, when he was arrested by the Korean Police with the accusation he was a Soviet agent and was expelled together with his mother. Thus, the first period of Orthodox Mission in Korea under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate came to an end.

According to Russian sources, from 1900 to 1945, 789 Koreans were baptized by Orthodox missionaries. More specifically:

1900-1904:      14[37]

1906-1912:      322[38]

1912-1914:      110[39]

1914-1917:      181[40]

1917-1924:      46[41]

1925-1930:      29[42]

1931-1935:      87[43]
In 1940 the Orthodox flock numbered only 150 people who were scattered across 17 areas in Korea.[44]
Orthodox Mission in Korea during the period of the Civil War.

The date of June 25 1950 marked the beginning of the Korean War (25/6 /1950- 27/ 7/1953). Orthodox Korean believers, like most of their compatriots, suffered great hardships. Most of them, in an effort to save themselves, fled to Busan ​​and the southern districts of the country. Thus, the Orthodox flock was dispersed. In these tragic times, the Greek Expeditionary Force,[45] which participated in the peacekeeping force of the United Nations, offered significant spiritual and material assistance to Koreans (1950-1955), particularly through the military priests who accompanied the Force for its liturgical needs. Essentially, they were the first Greek Orthodox missionaries in Korea. The members of the Greek Expeditionary Force visited the Orthodox faithful in Seoul numerous times, especially from the armistice (1953-7-27) until their successive repatriation (1955-12-31), and offered food as well as other basic necessities. They protected the war orphans, they strengthened the faith of Orthodox believers, who, after the disappearance of their priest Fr. Alexei Kim (1951-7-9), were left without a shepherd, they baptized children and adults, they performed the sacrament of marriage, Divine Liturgies, etc.

The first Greek Chaplain, who came in contact with the Orthodox Koreans[46] was Archimandrite Chariton Simeonides (later Metropolitan of Polyani and Kilkis),[47] who served in Korea from March 5, 1952 until May 30, 1953. According to his testimony, father Chariton tried to find ways to serve the approximately fifty families of Orthodox believers living in Seoul.[48] In a 1953 report to the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Spyridon Vlachos (1949-1956) he writes: “In addition to the above mentioned mission (e.g. his priestly duties in the Camp), being in constant consultation with the Administrator of the Guild, I tried to organize and serve the Orthodox Christian Community in Seoul Korea.”

A second Chaplain to replace Fr. Chariton sent by Greece was Archimandrite Andreas Halkiopoulos (March 1953 to August 1954),[49] who offered significant help to the Orthodox flock, because of the fact that most of his tenure lasted after the armistice. At his initiative the half-destroyed Church of St. Nicholas in Seoul was renovated through a fundraiser conducted among Greek soldiers as well as their own effort. The first Divine Liturgy at the newly renovated church of St. Nicholas in the Chong-Dong area took place on November 29, 1953, and it was attended by the Deputy Minister of Education of Korea and other civil and military authorities.  Before leaving Korea, father Andreas managed to install a Korean priest in the Church of St. Nicholas.) The Orthodox Community proposed as a candidate,[50] Moom Yi-Han (1910-1977), who was ordained deacon in Japan on 9 January 1954 and on the next day he was ordained as a priest by the Archbishop of Tokyo Mkekis Irenaeus, who was the closest Orthodox Bishop in the area. Due to the existing war situation, but also because of the hostile relations between Korea and Japan during that period, Koreans were forbidden to exit the country, particularly travelling to Japan. With the help of the US Army, Fr. Andreas Halkiopoulos managed to obtain authorization for Boris Moon to travel to Japan for his ordination. Disguised as an African-American soldier, Boris Moon was included in a dynamic group of American Marines going to Japan. After his ordination he returned to Korea in the same manner and served the church with total dedication for 23 years and eight months until his death.[51] In June 1976, after having been invited by the Korean Government, Fr. Andreas revisited Korea in order to participate in the special celebrations the Korean government had organized from June 7-12, as a tribute to the military priests of the Expeditionary Forces who served during the Korean War.

The third and last Greek Chaplain who came to Korea as a member of the Expeditionary Forces of Greece and ministered to the needs of the Orthodox faithful in Seoul (4/6/1954 – 12/30/1955) was Archimandrite Daniel Iviritis, who continued the work of Fr. Andreas Halkiopoulos.[52]

Under the Archdiocese of North and South America

The events of World War II, the suffering of the Korean people from the very harsh Japanese occupation (1910-1945), as well as the political upheavals in the Korean peninsula adversely affected the relations between the Orthodox Community in Seoul with the Church of Japan. The same was the case with the Patriarchate of Moscow. After the Korean War (1950-1953), South Koreans were unfavorably disposed towards Russia because of its alliance with North Korea. Orthodox Koreans did not want to have any relations with the Church of Russia. As a result, the Orthodox Community of Seoul found itself cut off from the rest of the Orthodox Church; that is,the community did not belonging to any ecclesiastical jurisdiction.

This very serious ecclesiological problem was resolved as follows: On 25 December 1955, after the Christmas Divine Liturgy, the General Assembly of the Orthodox Community of Saint Nicholas in Seoul unanimously decided to request to come under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The Ecumenical Patriarchate, under the leadership of the great Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I, accepted the request and, since then, the Orthodox Church of Korea has remained a Prefecture of the Ecumenical Throne.

In 1956, by decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the pastoral care of the Church in Korea was commissioned firstly to the Archdiocese of Australia and a short time later to the Archdiocese of North and South America,  with Archbishop Michael (Constantinides) being the Exarch of Korea.

A lingering major problem encountered during the days of Archbishop of America Iakovos (Koukouzas) was the property rights of the Orthodox Community in the Chong-Dong area. In 1948, the entire property was confiscated by the Korean government, because it had been considered Japanese-owned, as the Orthodox Community was under the jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church in Japan since 1921. The long litigation to safeguard the property began in 1955 and ended on 17/12/1962. The visit of Archbishop of North and South America Iakovos in 1962, as a representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, played a significant role in the return of the property to the Orthodox Community in Seoul. In 1967 the Church property was expropriated and, with the money the Korean government provided, all the debts and legal expenses were paid, enabling the purchase of a piece of land in the Mapo area of Seoul. There, with the joint efforts of Rev. Boris and Professor Cho Chang Han, who made the achitectural designs, today’s Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Seoul was built in 1967. The Inauguration of the new church was held in 1968 and its consecration in 1978  by the Metropolitan New Zealand and Exarch of Korea Dionysios.

In 1969, Archimandrite Eugenios Papayannis (Pappas) of the Archdiocese of America was appointed as Dean of the Church of St. Nicholas in Seoul, in order to assist the sickly parish priest Rev. Boris Moon. He served in Korea until 1973.
Under the Metropolis of New Zealand

On 8 January 1970, the Ecumenical Patriarchate established the Metropolis of New Zealand while the newly elected Metropolitan of New Zealand, Dionysios (Psachas)[53] was assigned as Exarch of Korea.

On December 1, 1975 Archimandrite Soterios Trambas (1929-)[54] arrived in Korea on a secondment by the Archbishop of Athens and the approval of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in response to a request made by the Orthodox Community in Seoul.[55] Metropolitan Dionysios of New Zealand, with the close cooperation of Archimandrite Soterios, who later was elevated as assistant Bishop of Zela, did remarkable missionary work that was unprecedented in scope and quality. Their mission was not confined only to Korea, but from 1980 onwards it was extended to the countries of South-East Asia (India, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand), which at the time were under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan of New Zealand. Two fruits of this missionary effort were the establishment by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Holy Metropolis of Hong Kong in 1996 and the Holy Metropolis of Singapore in 2008.

The Orthodox Metropolis of Korea

After 1975, thanks mainly to the unceasing care and extraordinary missionary zeal of Archimandrite Soterios Trambas, but also through the generous assistance of numerous clergy and laity from Greece,[56] the Korean Church developed, became well organized, and grew strong roots in the Korean soil. In recognition of the maturity of the Orthodox community in Korea, on 20 April 2004 the Ecumenical Patriarchate established the Holy Metropolis of Korea. Then Bishop Soterios of Zela was elected as first[57] Metropolitan of Korea. His enthronement took place on 20 June 2004 officiated by Archbishop Demetrios of America, acting as representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

As of today, the Holy Korean Orthodox Church has seven parishes in South Korea (in the cities of Seoul, Busan, Incheon, Jeonju, Palang-Li, Chuncheon and Ulsan) and one in North Korea (city of Peong-yang),[58] as well as thirteen chapels, the Monastery of the Transfiguration in Kapeong for Nuns, the Monastery of St. Andrew the First-called in Yang-gu for Monks, the Missionary Center, the Publishing House under the name of «Korean Orthodox Editions», with many remarkable  publications in Korean, two bookstores (Book Café “Philokalia” in Seoul and the Book Café “Logos” in Incheon), the website, the Camp in Chuncheon, a kindergarten under the name of “Annunciation” in Busan, the Centre of Social Welfare for the Elderly in Chuncheon, the Orthodox cemetery in Yeong-miri and presently is making preparations for the construction of an Asian Orthodox Training & Conference Center in Kapeong, in which the first Orthodox Theological Seminary in East Asia will operate. In addition, the Holy Metropolis of Korea is a member of the Local Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) and participates in international theological dialogues. His All Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has visited Korea three times (8-13 / 4/1995, 26 / 2-2 / 3/2000 and 23-28 / 6/2005). During these three pastoral visits, which proved crucial for the life of the local Church and which reveal the great pastoral care of the Mother Church of Constantinople for the promotion of Orthodox witness in Korea, His All Holiness laid the foundation stones and consecrated several churches and buildings. Also, during His All Holiness’ first visit to Korea in 1995, and through his mediation, the Korean authorities recognized the “Foundation for the Conservation and Safeguarding of the Assets of the Orthodox Church in Korea” as a legal entity, through which the Orthodox Church in Korea obtained legal status. According to the approved Articles, the Foundation and the Church property are under the joint control of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Korean Government.


After the collapse of the communist regime in Russia and the Balkans in the 1990s, the first economic immigrants from Orthodox countries began to arrive in South Korea. Many of them, being strangers among strangers, were interested in finding an Orthodox church. From the beginning, they found refuge and support in the arms of the Korean Orthodox Church. The then Bishop of Zela Soterios embraced them all with his love and paternal affection and slowly created the first nucleus of Slavic-speaking Orthodox faithful. He himself learned how to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in Slavonic and since 1992 in Seoul (in the chapel of the Dormition) or at the Monastery of the Transfiguration in Kapeong, where the pilgrims spent many weekend, he celebrated the Divine Liturgy for them. He also held special services for Slavophones on Christmas Day and other Feast days with the old Calendar in order to give them a sense of familiarity and belonging. In 1995, during his historic first official visit to Korea, His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew laid the foundation stone of the chapel of Saint Maximus the Greek. Since then all Slavophones attend the prayer services and the Divine Liturgy at this chapel in their own language. In 1998, Bishop Soterios of Zela made a special request to the Patriarchate of Moscow through the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He asked for a Russian Priest to be sent to Korea in order to undertake the pastoral care of Russians and other Slavic-speaking believers.[59] The Ecumenical Patriarchate approved the request. On this application, his Grace Soterios made it clear that the priest would belong to the Korean Church, from which he would receive his salary, and that he would be under the jurisdiction of and would commemorate the name of the local Bishop.[60] The Patriarchate of Moscow did not respond to the requests immediately. Two years went by and finally in 2000 the Russian-Korean Priest-monk Theophane Kim was sent by the Patriarchate of Moscow. In a letter to the Bishop of Zela Soterios, the then Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad Kirill (now His Beatitude Patriarch of Moscow), who held the Office of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, wrote the following :

Your Grace,

I greet You cordially and I thank You for Your letter which is full of Episcopal concern for the spitual pastorship of the Russophone Orthodox flock, which lives in Korea. The Hierarchy of the Russian Othodox Church shares Your concern and the substantial need to find a constructive solution to this matter.

In reply to Your letter, I can inform You, that from the Russian Orthodox Church Hieromonk Theophane Kim is being sent to Korea temporarily for pastoral service. He will be under Your orders and he will implement all the diakonias (duties)  assigned to him. However, jurisdictionally he will continue to belong to the Russian Orthodox Church.

I ask You to please send the proper invitation to Hieromonk Theophane for the acquisition of Visa of Entry in Korea.

With brotherly love in the Lord,

The President of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate

+ Metropolitan Smolensk and Kaliningrad CYRIL[61]

The Priest-monk Theophane Kim arrived in Korea in August 2000 and took over from Bishop of Zela Soterios the ministry to the Russians and Slavic-speaking faithful. However, on 5 October 2011, Rev. Theofane Kim was elected by the Moscow Patriarchate as Bishop of Kyzyl and Tyva and left Korea. Since then the pastoral care of the Slavophones was undertaken by the Ukrainian priest Rev. Roman Kavchak, who was ordained Deacon (2/23/2012) and Priest (2/24/2012) at the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Today the Orthodox Metropolis of Korea has undertaken the responsibility and pastoral care of all the Orthodox residing in the country as well as those who are temporary visitors and workers, such as sailors and entrepreneurs. In other words, all Orthodox believers of various nationalities (Koreans, Russians, Ukrainians, Romanians, Greeks, Serbians, Bulgarians, Americans, Western Europeans, Australians, Syrians, Egyptians, etc.) are “under the omophoron,” or spiritual jurisdiction and care, of the Ecumenical Patriarch. In order to provide proper pastoral care to all Orthodox in Korea, apart from the Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Seoul, there is also the Chapel of St. Maximus the Greek, in which the Services and the Divine Liturgy are celebrated in Slavonic for Slavophones, and occasionally in English for English speakers. Also, in the parish of the “Annunciation” in the city of Busan, the chapel of Saint George is used for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in Slavonic for Slavophones who reside in and near Busan.

From 1992 to the present, a substantial number of Russians and other Slavic-speakers were catechized and baptized as Orthodox. Also, the Sacrament of Marriage was officiated for those who had had only a civil marriage. Apart from spiritual support, many have received material assistance from the Holy Metropolis of Korea. For example, several persons have been lodged at the Mission’s Guest-house in downtown Seoul for short or longer periods, others have received assistance in case of health problems, employment, etc. Both the Slavophones and English speaking Orthodox faithful concelebrate on great Feast days together with the Korean faithful at the Cathedral Church of St. Nicholas in Seoul. Furthermore, every Sunday they all share a “meal of love” that is offered to all believers in every parish. In addition, their children participate in catechetical programs and in the Metropolis’s summer and winter youth camps and retreats. The prevailing atmosphere is one of true brotherly love and Pentecostal spirit following the Eucharistic gatherings on Sunday. And this is because the Korean Orthodox Church unites believers of various nationalities as a spiritual family.
Having said all the above, one may conclusively argue that the Holy Metropolis of Korea approaches the a strict canonical order of the ancient Church on the issue of Orthodox Diaspora, which is, namely, the existence of a single bishop in any place,[62] with the governing criterion being geographical rather than linguistic or nationalistic.

[1] Almost all the studies published by Russians about the history of the Orthodox Church in Korea have the same drawback, that is, they limit their scope to the first decades of missionary activities of the Russian missionaries. Thus, the reader gets the wrong impression that the Orthodox Church in Korea stopped operating in 1949.

[2] More on Nicholai Alexeyevitch Switchy’s memo concerning the establishment of Russian Orthodox Mission in Korea, see Feodosii Perevalov, «Rossiiskaja Dukhovnaja Missija v Koree, 1900-1925» (=The Russian Mission in Korea, 1900-1925) in Istoriya Possiskoi Doukhovnoi Missii v Koree, Moscow, ed. Brotherhood of St. Vladimir, 1999, p. 173-179.

[3] The Russian Orthodox Church was proclaimed Autocephalus by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1448. In 1559 the Russian Church was elevated to a Patriarchate by Ecumenical Patriarch Jeremiah II the Great. The first Patriarch of Moscow was the Metropolitan of Colomna Job (26/1/1589). The Patriarchate of Moscow was abolished by Tsar Peter I the Great in 1700. Among Peter’s other reforms, he changed the Articles of the Russian Orthodox Church and denied to appoint a new Patriarch of Moscow after the death of Patriarch Andrian. From 1700 to 1917 the administration of the Orthodox Church of Russia was exercised by the Holy Synod. In 1917 during Lenin’s tenure the Patriarchate of Moscow was re-established and on 5(18)/11/1917 Patriarch Tichon was elected.

[4] Volokhova, Alena A.: «Iz istorii rossiskoi politiki na Dalnem Vostoke: Ministerstvo Inostrannih Del, Ministerstvo Finansof i uchrezhdenie Rossiiskoi Dukhovnoi Missii v Koree» (=From the history of Russian politics in the Far East: Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Economy and the establishment of the Russian Mission in Korea), in Istoriya Possiskoi Doukhovnoi Missii v Koree, Moscow, ed. Brotherhood of St. Vladimir, 1999, p. 324.

[5] Feodosii Perevalov, p. 181

[6] Archimandrite Ambrosii was born in 1867. His parents were members of the Unionists Church. In 1875 they became members of the Orthodox Church. He studied at the Seminary of Holmsk and at the Theological Academy of St. Petersburg from which he graduated in 1893. He was tonsure as monk and was ordained deacon and Priest-monk in 1892. From 1893 to 1897 he was head of the missionary Catechetical School of Baisk, in the Altaic region. In 1897 he was appointed head of the Orthodox Mission in Korea. But in 1898 his appointment was revoked and he returned to St. Petersburg along with two other members who were waiting in Novokievsk for a visa entry to Korea. Later he was ordained Bishop and lived at the Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos in Sviyaxsk, in the Kazan region, where he was put to death as a martyr by the raging rebellious mob in 1917 or 1918. In 2000 the Patriarchate of Moscow canonized Priest-Martyr Ambrosii among the Saints and his memory is celebrated on July 27th.

[7] Archimandrite Ambrosii annoyed the military men because he preached against their immoral trends. They, therefore asked the authorities to expel him as persona non grata and they succeeded in their request. For more information see Feodosii Perevalov, pp. 185-187.

[8] Deacon Nicholas Alexeyev was born in 1869. He was tonsured monk and ordained deacon in St. Petersburg in 1897 and in 1901 was ordained Priest-monk. He served in Korea until 1903, when he left along with the novices Theodore, Demetrius and Jacob in order to serve the Russian Orthodox Mission in Peking, because it had been almost destroyed by the anti-religious movement of Yi Ho Tuan (Boxers). In 1909 he returned to the Mission in Korea because of lack of priests. Two years later, in 1911, he left for Valdivostok. He served in the Usouri region and later he was placed on the island of Kamtsatka as a Vicar and trustee of the Church property of the local Archdiocese. He died on April 23 1952 in the city of Buenos Aires of Argentina.

[9] For the different version of information the Russian sources provide concerning the missionary activities of chanter A. Krasin, see Andreas Heliotis, Ὀρθοδοξία στὴν Κορέα, Συνοπτικὸ χρονικὸ τῆς Ἱεραποστολῆς τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας στὴν Κορέα, (= The Orthodoxy in Korea. Concised Chronicle of Orthodox Mission in Korea) Athens: Πατριαρχικὸν Ἵδρυμα Ὀρθοδόξου Ἱεραποστολῆς Ἄπω Ἀνατολῆς, 2005, pp. 52-53. According to Heliotis, A. Krasin must have arrived in Korea in 1899 along with deacon Nicholas Alexeyev and departed a few months later. He was replaced by deacon Varfolomei Seleznev. Andreas Heliotis, after the publication of his significant work mentioned above continued his research on the History of the Orthodox Church in Korea. One month before his death (22/10/14) he gave me his unpublished manuscripts, which I made use of in this paper.

[10] A good number of these sacred items have survived to this day and are kept at the headquarters of the Holy Metropolis in Seoul, more specifically at St. Nicholas Cathedral and most of them at St. Maxim the Greek chapel.

[11] Archimandrite Chrysanf Shchetkovskii (1869-1906) was born in 1869 in the Don Province and was a deacon’s son. He graduated from the local Theological Seminary in 1890 and was ordained priest on the same year. After the death of his wife, in 1894, he studied at the Theological Academy of Kazan and was tonsured monk in 1898. A year later, in 1899, he graduated from the Academy, he was appointed head of the Orthodox Mission in Korea and was given the title Archimandrite. He stayed in Korea till April 1904, and was expelled by the Japanese during the Russian-Japanese war. On the same year he was ordained Bishop of Tseboksarsk and in 1905, due to illness, he was transferred to the Diocese of Elizabetgrant, of the Cherson Province. On October 22 1906, at the age of 37, he died in Odessa from tuberculosis and was buried at the Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos in Odessa. See Feodosii Perevalov, p. 219, n.73.

[12] For the construction of buildings of the Russian Orthodox Mission in the Chong-Dong area and the transfer of St. Nicholas church from the Diplomatic Mission headquarters, see Feodosii Perevalov, pp. 206-209.

[13] Archimandrite Pavel Ivanovsky (1874-1919) was born in 1874. He was tonsured monk in 1896, was ordained Priest-monk and served in one of the missionary stations in Zambaikalsk. In 1904, after his graduation from the Korean department of the Eastern Institute of Vladivostok, he was appointed head of the Orthodox Mission in Seoul. Until the end of the Russo-Korean war, as it was not possible for him to travel to Korea, he exercised pastoral duties with the Red Cross in Manchuria. He arrived in Korea on August 15 1906 and in 1912 his appointment was revoked by the Holy Synod of the Russian Church and went to St. Petersburg. Soon after, he was elected Bishop of Nicholsky-Usourisk of the Vladivostok Province. From this position he also supervised the Orthodox Mission in Korea. In 1919 he travelled to Caucasus due to health reasons, where he was appointed Bishop of Aksaik. Shortly after, he died from typhoid fever at the Monastery of St. Catherine-Lebyansky.

[14] See Feodosii Perevalov, pp. 220-22 and Andreas Heliotis, Ὀρθοδοξία στὴν Κορέα, p. 40.

[15] For the work and personality of Archim. Pavel Ivanovsky, see Feodosii Perevalov, p. 220, Avgustin (Nikitin): «Russkaja Pravoslavnaja Missija v Koree» (=The Russian Orthodox Mission in Korea) in Orthoxy in the Far East Ὀρθοδοξία στήν Ἄπω Ἀνατολή, issue no. 1, 1993, p. 141 and Anisimov, L.: Pravoslavnaja missii v Koree. K 90-letiju osnovanija (=Orthodox Mission in Korea marks its 90th Anniversary), The Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, issue no. 5, 1991, p. 58.

[16] See Feodosii Perevalov, p. 250.

[17] The first Korean priest Fr. Ioannis Kang-Tak was born in 1877 in Seoul. He studied at the public school of foreign languages, Russian department, 1896-1903. The Korean Government dispatched him to Russia where he continued his studies. In Russia he probably came into contact with the Orthodox faith. He returned to Korea after the end of the Russian-Japanese war in 1906 and was appointed by the Korean government as teacher and interpreter at the Mission school in Seoul. It was at that time that he was baptized Orthodox Christian and became a treasured assistant to Archim. Pavel Ivanovsky as he greatly helped with the translation work of the Mission. ibid., p. 284 and Nikitin, Avgustin, «Rossiya I Koreya: Obzor Tserkovnikh Sbyazei» (=Russia and Korea: Review of Church Relations), web article (2006) (

[18] Archimandrite Irinarkh Shemanovsky came from an aristocratic family and was born in 1873 in Novgorond. He completed his studies at the Impirial Institute of Gattsinsky in 1892. Between the years of 1895-1897 he studied at the Theological Seminary of Novgorond. In 1897 he was tonsured monk and then he was ordained Priest-monk. In 1898 he was appointed dean of the Mission in Obdorsk, in the Russian north, where he served for a few years. From 1910 he did missionary work in the Church Province of Tvier. In 1912 he received the title of Archimandrite and was appointed abbot of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit-“Illiondorovsky”.  On the same year he was appointed head of the Orthodox Mission in Seoul. In 1914, by order of the Ecclesiastical Provincial  Authority, he was transferred from Korea to Vladivostok. There he became dean of the Church Seminary in Sentank. However, due to his troublesome relationship with his students, he was removed from the Seminary and was later placed as abbot at the Monastery of Issikkulsky. During the pillage and murder of the brotherhood by Kirgizan rebels, he was murdered in 1917 or 1918 and according to some other witness in 1922 or 1923. See Feodosii Perevlov, p. 251. n. 113 and 306 and 252-256.

[19] The second Korean Orthodox priest, Fr. Lukas Kim (Kim Hyi-Jun) was born on December 19 1882 in the village Tezinhe of the Russian prefecture Primorsk. He was baptized Orthodox in 1886, studied at the provincial school (1895-1897) and continued his studies at the public school of foreign languages in Seoul (1898-1899). In 1906 he was appointed teacher of the Orthodox Mission School. Fr. Lukas was married to Maria Kim Heung Up (she died on March 11 1959) and they had three sons and three daughters. In 1913 he was ordained deacon and on March 31 1924 he was ordained priest. He was responsible for the two missionary stations in the cities of Kioha and Karagai.  He died on December 19 1929. See Feodosii Perevalov, p. 256, n. 116. According to Fr. Feodossi, the year of his birth was 1881, but according to the testimony of his grandchild Peter Kim Jong Hwa, who spoke to the writer of this essay, but also according to the plaque on his grave at the Orthodox Cemetery in Yong-miri, his year of birth is 1882.

[20] Hieromonk Vladimir Skrizhalin was born in 1868. He studied at the Theological Academy of Kazan and in 1898 was sent to the Russian Orthodox Mission in Peking. In 1906 was transferred to the Orthodox Mission in Seoul and in 1909 temporarily served at the Mission Metochi of Vladivostok. He returned to Korea in 1911 and was appointed head of the Mission in 1914. Fr. Vladimir, soon after his appointment he received the office of abbot and was bestowed the medal of “St. Anne”, third class. On his own petition, he departured from the Korean Mission in mid June 1917 in order to serve as military chaplain of the Russian Navy. See Feodosii Perevalov, p. 220, n.75 and 259.

[21] See Feodosii Perevalov, ibid. 257 and Andreas Heliotis, Ὀρθοδοξία στὴν Κορέα, ibid. 90.

[22] Hieromonk Palladii Seltski was born in 1880. During the years of his studies at the Theological Seminary in Zitomir resided at the Potsaev Lavra, where he was tonsured and ordained Priest-monk.  Since 1913 he studied at the Korean department of the Eastern Institute of Vladivostok. He graduated in 1917 and soon after he was appointed head of the Orthodox Mission in Korea. He remained at this position for only three months. After leaving Korea he went to Vladivostok. In 1917 he defrocked himself as priest and was appointed in a civil office. See Feodosii Perevalov, p. 259, n. 121 and 260-266.

[23] Archimandrite Feodosii Perevalov (1875-1933) was born in 1875. He became a novice in 1894 at the Skete of Gesthemane of the Caves which belonged to the Lavra of Holy Trinity-St. Sergii. In 1897, after a decision made by the Holy Synaxis of the Lavra, he was accepted in its Brotherhood. In 1904, during the Russian-Japanese war, he served in Manchuria as a chanter in a local community. In 1906 he was included in the personelle of the Orthodox Mission in Korea as a head of choir and teacher of chanting. In 1908 he was tonsured monk and in 1910 was ordained deacon and hieromonk successively. In 1911 he served at the Mission Metochi in Vladivostok as a priest. From 1913 to 1926 he served at the missionary station of Vladivostok. In 1916 he was appointed military priest to the cruiser “Oryol” of the Siberian fleet and in 1917 he took up the leadership of the Orthodox Mission in Korea. He died in 1933 in Tokyo. See Feodosii Perevalov, p. 267, n.127 and Dionysii Posdyaev, «K istorii rossiiskoi dukhovnoi missii v Koree» (= From the History of Russian Mission in Korea) in Istoriya Possiskoi Doukhovnoi Missii v Koree, Moscow: ed. Brotherhood of St. Vladimir, 1999, issue no. 1, p 199.

[24] Dionysii Posdyaev, ibid, p.198, characterizes this subjection as “an interruption of the canonical relations with the Patriarchate of Moscow”.

[25] In reality, this subjection was of a strictly spiritual and not administrative nature. The Mission in Korea did not constitute an organic part of the Orthodox Church of Japan, which did not have any involvement in determining the function of the Mission. It was only the Archbishop of Tokyo Sergii who personally played a spiritual as well as advisory role concerning the Korean Mission. (See Shkarovsky, Mikhail V.: Russkaya Pravoslavnaya Doukhovnaya Misiya v Koree  (=The Russian Orthodox Mission in Korea) Web article: The Archbishop of Tokyo Sergii visited for the first time Korea on 1 July 1922. During his stay in Seoul he was extended hospitality by the Anglikan Bishop Mark Trollope, with whom he had friendly relations. See Feodosii Perevalov, p. 303. On March 5 1923, Hieromonk Feodosii received the title of Archimandrite ( Ibid. 291) from Archbiship Sergii. The Archbishop of Tokyo visited once more the Orthodox Mission in Seoul on his way to Harbin on December 30 1923. He stayed for a couple of days, he took part in the Vespers and celebrated the Divine Liturgy and Doxology for the new year, on January 1 1924. Another of his visits to Korea was in 1928. (See Andreas Heliotis, Ἡ Ὀρθοδοξία στὴν Κορέα, Ibid. 101).

[26] See Feodosii Perevalov, p. 290.

[27] Volkov, Maxim G.: «Pravoslavnaya Tserkov v Koree» (=The Orthodox Church in Korea) in Asiya i Africa segodnya, issue 4/2009, p. 66.

[28] Shkarovsky, Mikhail V.: Ibid. It must be noted here that in August of 1921 Bishop Nestor, on his way to Tokyo, visited Seoul and had stayed at the Mission headquarters for a couple of days. He also visited Korea once more on December 17 1923, as he was returning from Harbin, and celebrated the Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas church in Seoul. See Perevalov, Feodosii, p. 303.

[29] Public Archives of the Russian Federation, see Shkarovsky, Mikhail V., Ibid.

[30] Posdyaev, Dionysii, ibid, p. 199. Despite this, the Metropolis of Harbin, in 1934 sent the Russian priest Fr. Ioannis Trostiansky to Korea from Manchuria, whom he appointed as a priest at the chapel of the Giankofsky family, which was under the Russian church of Diaspora until 1945. The information that since 1945 (until 1953) this chapel was under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate means that it followed the accession to the Moscow Patriarchate of Nestor and the other Metropolitans of Manchuria, which previously belonged to the Russian Church of Diaspora.

[31] Bolshakoff , S: The Foreign Missions of the Russian Orthodox Church, London-New York, 1943, p. 75.

[32] Public Archives of the Russian Federation, see Shkarovsky, Mikhail V., Ibid. and  Bolshakoff, S., Ibid., p. 75.

[33] Posdyaev, Dionysii, Ibid. p. 199

[34], Dionysii, Ibid., p. 358. It is possible that there may be a confusion concerning the chapel of the Giankofsky family in Novina, which stood there since 1934 and was visited by a priest from Seoul prior to 1935. In any event, both private chapels in Pyeong-yang and in Novina were under the jurisdiction of the Metropolis of Harbin of the Russian Church of Diaspora. See Rutt, R., “The Orthodox Church in Korea” in Sobornost, Summer 1957, series 3 No 21 p. 488.

[35] The third Orthodox Korean priest, Fr. Alexei Kim (Kim Yi-Han) was born in Seoul on October 25 1895 (or 1896). He received holy Baptism in 1908 and was named Alexei. He attended the Mission School from 1907-1912 and from 1914 he started serving the church as chanter in the provinces. His first assignment was the missionary station in the Kioha village, as assistant to the Fr. Ioannis Kang. He married Lydia (Kwon Hwa Sook) and they had eight children of whom only the following four survived: Tatiana, Nicholai, Costas and Eleni.  In 1932 he was ordained Deacon by the Metropolitan of Tokyo Sergii (Sergii Tikhomirov).  In October of 1948 he was ordained Priest in Tokyo by Archbishop Benjamin, who appointed him dean of St. Nicholas church in Seoul, and put him in charge of ministering to the Orthodox Community. Near the end of the 1930’s, Fr. Alexei was forced to abandon Seoul, in order to avoid the censure of the Japanese Police, and for four consecutive years he lived in the city of Cham-won, where his daughter Tatiana Kim Sung-duk was working as a teacher. In 1938 Fr. Alexei was arrested by the Japanese authorities and remained in prison for one and a half years. The reason for his imprisonment was his brother’s Michael attempt to escape to Russia after the closure of the Soviet Consulate in Seoul, (1938),  in which he worked as interpreter and had also been a chanter of the Orthodox Mission. Michael Kim’s attempt failed; he was arrested and died in prison in 1940. On July 9 1950, after celebrating the Divine Liturgy, Fr. Alexei was once more arrested in front of his Presbytera Lydia (Kwon Hwa Sook) and his son Costa Kim Chang-Sik, this time by the North Korean soldiers who had invated the country and had occupied Seoul. That was the last time of him being seen alive. See Lankov, A.: “Christianstvo v Koree” (=Christianity in Korea) in Problemi Dalnogo Vostoka, issue 2/1999, p. 131. Ever since then, his family never heard of him. His destiny, the place of his death and burial are still unknown to this day. The soldiers who arrested him did not allow him to change clothes. A possible reason for his arrest may have been his unwillingness to cooperate with the soviet army, after Korea’s liberation from the Japanese occupation in 1945. The province Cham-won, where he lived with his family up to the day of his arrest was under the censure of the soviets. The new military administration, which had settled there, asked Fr. Alexei to work for them as interpreter, since he was fluent in the Russian language. Fr. Alexei took his family and fled in the middle of the night and headed for Seoul, leaving behind all his belongings. See Simbirtseva, Tatiana M. “The orthodox Church in Korea: pages of Modern History”, 2000 (unpublished study).  We gathered more information for Fr. Alexei’s life from his daughter Tatian Kim Sung-duk who was born on December 6 1924.

[36] Hieromonk Polikarp Priimak (1912-1989) was  born in 1912 in Vladivostok. In the 1920’s he emigrated with his family to Manchuria, where he attended High School. In 1931 he went to Japan and studied at the Theological Seminary of Tokyo. On March 8 1936 was ordained deacon by the Metropolitan of Tokyo Sergii, on March 13 he was tonsured monk and on March 15 he was ordained priest. He left Japan for Seoul in April of 1936. On December 18 1948 he was arrested by the Korean Police as a soviet spy and was kept in prison until December 29. On June 19 1949 he was again imprisoned. After ten days he was set free and on June 29 1949 was expelled along with his mother. He was escorted by police and arrived in Pyeong-yang on July 3 1949 and from there he went on to Harbin in Manchuria. In 1951 Archimandrite Polikarp was assigned head of the Russian Mission in Jerusalem, where he served until April 1955. On July 17 1957 he was elected by the Holy Synod of the Russian Church Bishop of Kirovsk and Slobontsk. In November 1961 he was transferred to the Province Archangelsk (Bishop of Archangelsk and Holmogornd) and then to Ivanovo, where he served from February 1966 to July 1968, when he became Bishop of Penza and Saransk. He died in Symferoupolis on July 23 1989.

[37] See Feodosii Perevalov, Ibid. p. 306.

[38] See Feodosii Perevalov, Ibid. p. 306.

[39] See Feodosii Perevalov, Ibid. p. 306.

[40] See Feodosii Perevalov, Ibid. p. 306.

[41] See Feodosii Perevalov, Ibid. p. 306.

[42] Dionysii Posdyaev, ibid, p. 356.

[43] Νikitin, Avgustin, «Russkaja Pravoslavnaja Missija v Koree» (=The Russian Orthodox Mission in Korea) in Orthodoxy in the Far East, issue no 1, St. Petersburg: 1993, p. 142.

[44] Posdyaev, Dionysii, Ibid., p. 356 – Νikitin, Avgustin, Ibid., p. 142.

[45] The Expeditionary Force of Greece was the first Greek allied mission in the framework of the United Nations. The Force included military land forces and of the royal air-force, consisting of 67 fighters and 7 airplanes c-47 Dakota. During the years between 1950-1955, 669 officers and non-commissioned officers along with 9,586 infantry men, that is a total of 10,225, served in Korea. During war operations 6 officers, 168 infantry men and 12 air-force officers lost their lives (=186).  Those who were injured were 33 officers and 577 soldiers (=610). Also 4 airplanes c-47 Dakota were lost. (For more info., see Τὸ Ἐκστρατευτικὸν Σῶμα Ἑλλάδος εἰς Κορέαν, 1950-1955 (=The Expeditionary Force of Greece, 1950-1955), Ἔκδοσις Διευθύνσεως Ἱστορίας Στρατοῦ, Athens: 1977)

[46] The following military chaplains, Fr. Neophytos Baletelis (9/12/50-193/1951), and Fr. Elias Tratolos (23/3/51-28/3/52) served in Korea prior to Fr. Chariton Symeonides, but we lack information as to whether they came in contact with the Orthodox Koreans. Most probably they did not have the chance to meet any Orthodox Korean, since most of the citizens of Seoul had scattered and gone toward the South.

[47] Metropolitan Polyanis and Kilkis Chariton Symeonides was born in Nicomedeia of Asia Minor in 1912. He graduated from the Theological School of the University of Athens in 1935. In 1939 he was ordained Deacon by the Metropolitan of Samos Eirinaios and in 1940 he was ordained Priest. He was ordained as Metropolitan of Polyanis and Kilkis in 1965. He remained at this position until 1974. He died on February 15 1987.

[48] See Archim. Michael Kouraklis, Θρησκευτικοὶ λειτουργοὶ στὸ στράτευμα διὰ μέσου τῶν αἰώνων, Athens 2010, p.599.

[49] Rev. Fr. Andreas Halkiopoulos was born in Patra on November 30 1908. His parents were Christos and Anna. During his teenage years he worked in trade business but later he decided to study theology at the University of Athens, where he graduated in 1939 at the age of 31. During the Greek-Italian war he fought in Albania against the Italians (October 1940-May 1941) and later, during the German occupation of Greece he organized the so called “meals of love” in Athens for those who were hungry. At the chapel of Brotherhood “Zoe” in St. Paraskevi he was tonsured Monk on August 31, 1946 by the Metropolitan of Patara Meletios, Deacon on September 1, 1946 and Priest and Archimandrite on August 25, 1947. He served as preacher in the Holy Metropolis of Alexandroupolis from September 25, 1947 until his death on September 22, 1979. For short periods of time he was dispatched at the Royal Technical Schools on the island of Leros (1951-1952) and at the Metropolis of Karditsa (1952-1953). He joined the Greek Expeditionary Forces in Korea from March 1953 until August 1954. The above information was taken from the archives of the Brotherhood of Theologians “Soter”.

[50] Besides Fr. Boris Moon, another candidate for the position of priest at the Orthodox Community was the son of fr. Lukas Kim, Peter Kim Ha keoun.

[51] Father Boris Moon (Moon Yi-Han) was born in 1910. He studied at the Yang Chung High School in Seoul. For years he was an assistant to Fr. Alexei Kim and he was knowledgeable about church matters. He married Maria (Kim Myung Soon) and had three daughters Anna (Moon Soon Ja), Natalia (Moon Gil Ja), Valsamo (Moo Hye Ja) and one son Daniel (Moon Jun Sik). Shortly after his ordination in 1954, Fr. Boris put in great efforts in order to have the High School for Girls running, after renovating the old big building in the area of Chong-Dong with the material help of the Greek Expeditionary Forces. There were around 600 girl- students attending and 18 teaching staff members. The High School stopped operating after it was totally destroyed by a fire. Fr. Boris and his Presbytera Maria both died on 14 September 1977 after having been poisoned by the leak of carbon monoxide from the traditional heating system of their house. (ondol: Korean under-floor heating system). They both died on their sleep. Fr. Andreas Halkiopoulos describes the personality and work of Fr. Boris: “Fr. Boris has a deep conscience of his sacred mission. He is humble, zealot, and a pious priest. He works with all his might and loves his church and his flock. Every Sunday he celebrates the Divine Liturgy and never skips preaching the holy Gospel. He has created a beautiful church choir consisting of 23 young Korean members. He visits the Christians in their homes, he is always willing to help and support them and to strengthen their faith. Every Sunday he holds Sunday School classes for children and prepares catechumens for the Sacrament of Baptism. Also, once a week he speaks to the students of the High School about the Christian Religion”. See Andreas Halkiopoulos, Περὶ τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας εἰς τὴν Κορέαν (=On Orthodoxy in Korea), Ἔκθεσις πρὸς τὴν Θρησκευτικὴν Ὑπηρεσίαν Γ.Ε.Σ., 1954.

[52] Archimandrite Daniel Iviritis (Vassilios Katritos) was born in 1914 in Heraklitsa of East Thrace. He studied in Athonias Church Academy and at the Theological School of the University of Athens. On August 2, 1933 he entered the Monastery of Iviron on Mt. Athos as a novice and on the 24 of August, 1933 he was tonsured Monk and shortly after Deacon and Priest. He held a position with the Archdiocese of Athens and became military chaplain and Director of the Department on Religion, 3rd Army Corps in Thessaloniki. He died in Athens on May 10, 2009. This information was taken from the Archives of the Holy Monastery of Ivirion, Mount Athos, Greece.

[53] Metropolitan of New Zealand, Dionysios (Panagiotes Psachas) was born in Chalkidon on March 30, 1916. He graduated from the Theological School of Chalki in 1941. On the same year he was ordained Deacon by the Metropolitan of Proussa Polycarpos and Presbyter on October 15, 1945 by the Metropolitan of Neocaesareia Chrysostom. He served at the Cathedral Church of St. Sophia in London from 1947 till 1959. On December 6, 1959 he was elected titular Bishop of Nazianzos and later assistant Bishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia. On January 8, 1970 he was elected Metropolitan of the newly established Metropolis of New Zealand and Exarch of Korea. On July 21, 2003 he was elected Metropolitan of Proussa. He died on January 6, 2008.

[54] Archimandrite Soterios Trambas was born in Arta in 1929. He graduated from the Theological School of the University of Athens in 1951. He served his military service at the Military Department of Religion and preached at the military units of Northern Greece. In 1956 he was tonsured monk of the Holy Monastery of Leimonos in Mytilene, Greece. He was ordained Deacon and served as a preacher at the Metropolis of Methymnis. In 1960 he was ordained Priest and received the office of Archimandrite. In 1965 returned to the Army and served as chaplain in the Evros area. From 1968 to 1973 he held the office of Chancellor (senior Archimandrite) of the Archdiocese of Athens. While at this position he established and organized the Center for Family Support and other public welfare institutions of the Archdiocese of Athens. In 1975 he was dispatched to Korea and arrived there on December 1st. He was received by the Orthodox Korean faithful with great joy and relief. In 1993 he was elected by the Ecumenical Patriarchate assistant Bishop of the Metropolitan of New Zealand and Exarch of Korea Dionysios and was given the title of Bishop of Zela. In 2004 he was elected first Metropolitan of newly established Orthodox Metropolis of Korea. In 2008 he resigned voluntarily as Metropolitan of Korea. The Ecumenical Patriarchate accepted his resignation and elected him Metropolitan of Pisidia (Turkey).

[55] In 1974, the President of the Church Council of St. Nicholas Cathedral, Costas Kim, the son of Fr. Alexei Kim, who, with the help of Fr. Andreas Halkiopoulos studied theology at the University of Athens, wrote a letter on behalf of the Korean Orthodox Community by which he was asking the Greek Authorities to send a priest from Greece in order to serve the Orthodox Church in Korea. This letter along with one picture of Korean children posing outside the church of St. Nicholas was sent to the Greek priest Fr. Constantine Chalvatzakis – a friend of Costas Kim – who had served as second lieutenant in Korea, after the Korean war (1955). He also had served priest at St. Nicholas church for six months (1973) and he was well aware of the needs of the Mission in Korea. Costas Kim, in his letter as President of the Orthodox Community in Seoul wrote: “We feel like orphans. We need a Priest”. Fr. Constantine Chalvatzakis took this letter to the church of the Holy Protection in Papagos area and showed it to the dean of this church, archim. Soterios Trambas, in a joint effort to find a suitable Priest who wished to go to Korea. When Fr. Soterios read the letter and especially when he saw the picture with the Korean children was deeply touched, he wept and said: “I will go”!

[56] The following Clergy from Greece served in Korea for shorter or longer periods of time: Protopresbyter Con. Chalvatzakis, Archim. Pangratios Mprousalis, Archim. Sophronios Gravanis, Archim. Kyrillos Christakis (later Metropolitan of Thessaliotida), Archim. Theoklitos Tsirkas, Archim. Nicodemos Giannakopoulos, Archim. Georgios Stephas, Metropolitan of Acheloos Euthymios, Archim. Christophoros Rakintzakis (now Bishop of Andides), Archim. Damascenos Voliotis, Hieromonk Ignatios Sennis (now Metropolitan of Madagascar), Protopresbyter Nicholaos Galilaios, Protopresbyter Eleftherios Chavatzas and Archim. Porphyrios Konides.

[57] On May 27, 2008 Archimandrite Ambrosios Zogaphos, who had been serving in Korea since December 23, 1998 as Dean of St. Nicholas Cathedral and then as Assistant Bishop of Zela, was elected by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate second Metropolitan of Korea. Apart from his diakonia at the Orthodox Metropolis of Korea, he also works as Professor at the Department of Greek Studies of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies since 2004.

[58] For the construction of the church of the Holy Trinity by the North Korean government in Pyeong-yang, the Holy Metropolis of Korea provided great assistance by sending various items, such as raw materials for construction, a lifting crane, two electrical generators, air-conditioners, etc. The laying of the foundation stone of the church was held on June 24, 2003 and the Consecration on August 13, 2006.

[59] Archives of the Holy Metropolis of Korea, Letter (protocol no. 12/29-1-1998) written by His Grace Bishop Soterios of Zela to His Eminence Metropolitan of New Zealand and Exarch of Korea Dionysios concerning the dispatch of a Russian priest to Korea from the Moscow Patriarchate.

[60] Archives of the Holy Metropolis of Korea, In a letter to His Grace Bishop Soterios of Zela (10/7/2000), the then Senior Secretary of the Holy Synod His Eminence Metropolitan of Philadelphia Meliton, prior to the coming of the Russian Priest, writes that “during the service of this priest (i.e. Hieromonk Theophane Kim), he will invoke during the church Services, only the name of the sovereign Metropolitan, that is Metropolitan of New Zealand Dionysios. In case of a concelebration of the Divine Liturgy with your Grace, he will invoke your name” (i.e. the name of His Grace Bishop Soterios of Zela).

[61] Archives of the Holy Metropolis of Korea, Protocol No. 1188/3-7-2000.

[62] See the decision on Orthodox Diaspora of the 4th Pre-synodic Panorthodox Conference at the Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Sambezy, from June 6th to June 13th 2009.