St. Maurus & Placidus' Abbey

Waegwan, South Korea

in the Archdiocese of Taegu

Monks, who had been expelled from Tokwon and Yenki instituted a new community at Waegwan in 1950/51
Instituted as Simple Priory on 9 January 1956
Promoted to the rank of an Abbey on 17 February 1964


Waegwan Abbey
134-1, Waegwan-ri, Waegwan-up, Ch'ilgok-gun
Kyongbuk 718-800

Phone +82 54 970 2000
Fax +82 54 971 0605

On 23rd August 2001, the community of Waegwan Abbey elected Fr Simon Ri OSB its fourth abbot, for an unlimited period. Fr Simon is 54 years old. Lately he has been responsible for the retreat house, the Waegwan oblate program and fast growing series of patristic editions in Korean. His predecessor Fr Bosco Kim stepped down after the expiration of his second three-year-term as administrator of the abbey. May God bless Abbot Simon and the community of Waegwan Abbey!


The Korean monks who had fled from the Communists in North Korea started Benedictine monastic life in Waegwan. It was a new start after the flourishing abbeys of Tokwon in North Korea and of Yenki in Manchuria had been suppressed and confiscated by the Communists. Both of these abbeys had had a predominant number of German monks. These German monks were at first thrown into prison and later, those who had been able to survive, were sent back to their homeland. The priest-monks of Korean nationality were killed during the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. However, the brothers and clerics were able to seek refuge in South Korea, where they came together, first in Pusan and then later in Taegu. From 1952 the monks resided at Waegwan under the leadership of Father Timotheus Bitterli. This community developed into a priory in 1956 and was elevated to the rank of an independent abbey in 1964. A German monk, Father Odo Haas was elected as the first abbot. He was succeeded in 1971 by a Korean monk, Abbot Placidus Ri. The abbey has ninety-four professed members, twenty-three of whom are Europeans. The monks have been entrusted with an area comprising fourteen parishes in the Archdiocese of Taegu. These pastoral duties include two leprosaria, a tuberculosis sanatorium, a house for the aged, a high school for boys and girls with 3400 pupils. The monks direct three retreat houses and a Theological Institute for the training of religious sisters. Moreover, the abbey runs a publishing house with a printing press as well as a large carpentry shop and is involved in a variety of agricultural activities.

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