Ganghwa is home to one of Korea’s most architecturally distinguished churches, namely the Anglican Church of Ss. Peter and Paul which is more commonly known as Ganghwa Anglican Church (성공회 강화성당). In the 19th century, the Church of England sent missionaries to Korea. Among them were Bishop Charles John Corfe and Bishop Mark Napier Trollope. The construction was overseen by Bishop Trollope. In 1900, the church was dedicated by Bishop Charles John Corfe, also known in Korea by his Korean name Go Yo-han (고요한).
The Anglicans, it seems, were very much interested in inculturation. This is not the only Anglican church built in traditional Korean style on Ganghwa island. This particular church was built by a royal carpenter, someone who had worked on the 19th century rebuilding of Gyeongbok Palace. He was lent to the British by the Emperor Gojong, possibly in order obtain greater influence with the British. Here is the main gate of the church.
The Chinese characters read 聖公會江華聖堂 (성공회강화성당). It means Ganghwa Anglican Church. There is a rather large bell in the belfry. Rather than being in a tower, this one is in a sort of pavilion and very close to the ground. Chinese and Korean bells are not traditionally struck from the inside as bells in the West are. Rather, they are struck from the outside, often by a large piece of wood.
We now come to the church proper. Unlike traditional Korean buildings of the time, this one has glass windows. Unfortunately, it is only open for church services and there didn’t seem to be anyone about with keys. From photos I’ve seen of the interior, as well as from peeking in the windows, it does look quite British seeing as it has a rood screen which separates the sanctuary from the rest of the church.
The building does look very Korean, doesn’t it? Were it not for the cross, one might think it was a temple of some sort. There is a rectory on the grounds of the church. It is also built in the traditional style. The gates of the church are adorned with a Christian version of the taeguk or yin and yang symbol.
In fact, the taeguk appears quite often in the decoration on this church. Here we can see the Sam Taegeuk, a popular Korean version with three parts instead of two. The three portions represent heaven, earth, and mankind.
There are a number of commemorative tablets on the grounds as well. One these commemorates Bishop Charles John Corfe under his Korean name of Go Yo-han.