The number of Presbyterian denominations in Korea is breathtaking: Wikipedia lists dozens of them. From what I can tell, most of these denominations originate in the Presbyterian Church of Korea, which was founded in 1884. In 1959, however, the denomination apparently split in half, some members forming the TongHap and others the HapDong. These are now two of the largest Presbyterian denominations in the world, each with about 3 million members.

Wikipedia provides some very high-level information about the debate (conservative vs. liberal, disagreement over ecumenism). But I'd like to have a deeper understanding of the underlying issues behind the divide. Were common "Western" debates a factor, like biblical inerrancy and female leadership? Do outside observers see personality conflict to be a major cause of the divide, as many do with respect to some Presbyterian denominations in the US?

What is an overview of the causes of the 1959 split of this denomination?

  • Incidentally, the same Wikipedia reveals: "In the 1950s, the church suffered tensions because of issues of theology, ecumenism, and worship. In 1959, the Presbyterian Church of Korea broke into two equal sections: the Presbyterian Church in Korea (TongHap)and The Presbyterian Church in Korea (HapDong)": Presbyterian Church of Korea. – user33104 Jan 24 '17 at 14:56
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    Reading the Wikipedia articles on both HapDong and TongHap, it seems the issue was over "ecumenism and the World Council of Churches." It also mentions that "The Tonghap group maintained its affiliation to the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches and allowed relatively wide range of theological positions," so it seems like HapDong were unhappy over the WCC membership. – Wtrmute May 12 '17 at 14:31

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