Русский | Pravoslavie.Ru | Moscow. September 1, 2005
English Translation by Nina Tkachuk Dimas

On August 30, 2005 in the Department of External Church Relations, DECR/MP vice-chairman Bishop MARK of Egorevsk received Metropolitan SOTIRIOS of Korea, a hierarch of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, reports DECR's press service.

Metropolitan SOTIRIOS' see is that of Seoul. Nine parishes and one monastery, located in South Korea, are under his authority.. The beginnings of Orthodoxy in Korea go back to the Russian Spiritual Mission in Korea, founded by Decree #2195 of Most Holy governing Synod of July 24, 1897 aimed at caring for Russian Orthodox Christians, living on the Korean peninsula, and also preaching Orthodoxy to the local non-Christian population. The first mission arrived in Korea in February 1900. Until 1908 the Korean Mission was under the authority of the metropolitan of Petersburg, and from 1908- 1922 - under the authority of the metropolitan of Vladivostok. By decision of the Most Holy Patriarch Tikhon (Synod decree #1571, November 4th 1921), the mission was placed under the oversight of the Archbishop of Tokyo, SERGII (Tikhomirov). From 1931 to 1935 by his decision, missionary activity in Seoul was carried out by priest Alexander Chistiakov. In 1936 Metropolitan SERGII dispatched hieromonk Polykarp (Priimak, 1912-1989) to Seoul. Father Polykarp's activity encompassed the entire Korean peninsula. His flock lived in many cities - Pyongyang, Hopuchin, Kaisiu, Karugai, Kyohe, Resin, Seoul and in many others - seventeen in all. After the end of the war, the Korean Mission became part of the East Asian Exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church. In 1949 South Korean authorities, for political reasons, illegally expelled the last head of the Russian Spiritual Mission, Archimandrite Polykarp and seized Mission property and land. It was thus that the activity of the Russian Spiritual Mission on Korean territory was suspended.

During the discussion Metropolitan SOTIRIOS extended kind wishes to ALEXY, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, who blessed the bishop's pilgrimage to Russian holy sites. Metropolitan SOTIRIOS expressed special spiritual joy at visiting the Holy Trinity/Seraphim/Diveyevo convent and praying at the relics of the great Russian saint, the venerable Seraphim of Sarov.

This is Metropolitan SOTIRIOS' second visit to Russia. During the present visit the Metropolitan visited Vladivostok, Diveyevo, Moscow, Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra, Khotkovo and worshipped at many Orthodox holy places. Accompanying Metropolitan SOTIRIOS was a cleric of the Russian Orthodox Church, hieromonk Feofan (Kim) who was appointed to Seoul for the pastoral care of the Russian speaking Orthodox community. In his discussion with Bishop MARK of Egorevsk, Metropolitan SOTIRIOS gave high assessment to Fr. Feofan's pastoral work and noted the significant increase in the number of Russian speaking believers in South Korea.

Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, DECR's secretary for inter-Orthodox relations, and D.I. Petrovsky of DECR also participated in the meeting.