A self-psychological approach to the 1907 Revival Movement in Korea.


Jung Eun Jang

Date of Award


Document Type



Drew Theological School

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The 1907 Revival Movement in Korea can be characterized by a sense of defeat and helplessness, a sensitivity to their sins and wrongdoings, petitions for forgiveness, public confessions of their sins, and resulting feelings of peace and joy. These unique characteristics of the movement have become an important object of research in the contemporary Korean Protestant Church. However, most research has centered on the historical, theological, and spiritual functions and significance of the Movement. This dissertation focuses on the psychological approach and is designed to enrich and enlarge the historical account of the 1907 Revival Movement by paying attention to the emotional, psychological, and unconscious motivations of the movement. The domestic and foreign circumstances in the latter years of the Joseon dynasty can be epitomized as a period of national crisis which resulted from both the internal collapse of an established system as well as external threats of foreign forces. The Korean people at that time experienced the profound sorrow of losing their country through annexation and the severe oppression and ill-treatment by the corrupt officials of the Japanese Government. In this period of national crisis, Protestant Christianity was introduced into Korea by American and Canadian missionaries who started the 1907 Revival Movement in which the movement participants experienced their self-perception as unworthy sinners needing to be saved, a desperate aspiration to be forgiven, and an outburst of emotion by praying with extreme actions and behaviors. There were significant fundamental psychological processes in the 1907 Revival Movement which can be explored in terms of Heinz Kohut's key concepts of selfobject, group self, and selfobject experiences such as idealizing, mirroring, and the twinship experience. The sense of defeatness and helplessness that Korean people experienced under Japanese occupation can be identified by what Kohut calls self-fragmentation of the Korean group self. However, the movement followers could fill up their structural defect in their nuclear self through the selfobject experiences provided by their religious experiences, which contributed to maintaining the cohesive sense of their selves. The self-psychological analysis of the 1907 Revival Movement illustrates the positive aspects of religious experiences as selfobject experiences for their psychological health which have significant implications for the Korean Protestant Church in the contemporary era, as it experiences decline and stagnation due to its failures of selfobject functions. This research study suggests ways to improve the contemporary churches' selfobject functions, such as 1) the churches' active participation in social issues and activities; 2) the establishment of the consolidated theological viewpoint between self-surrender and self-acceptance; and 3) the development of transformational leadership based on the notion of servanthood.