Metropolitanate of Korea
According the the decision of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on 20th April, 2004 the Orthodox Church in Korea being under the auspices of the Metropolitan Dionysios/Joseph of New Zealand as Exarch of Korea for 33 years from the year of 1970 has been elevated to the Metopolitnate of Korea. His Eminence Sotirios of Korea has been in Korea from 1975 as missionary priest and assistant Bishop to His Eminence Dionysios of New Zealand. There are 6 Orthodox Communities and 1 monastic community with 7 local clergymen, 1 Greek missionary priest, 1 nun, 1 volunteer from Greece and 1 novice, along with 2,500 local faithful.
That's the official press release. I've edited it some because Metropolitan Dionysios retired and has been replaced by Metropolitan Joseph, who is/was the Exarch of Korea. What does all this mean? Well, from a letter sent to the English speaking community:
His Grace's elevation means that the Orthodox Church in Korea will take a greater step toward independence. Rather than answering to the Archbishop in New Zealand, His Eminence Soterios will answer directly to the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople. The Orthodox Church in Korea will not become autocephalous, but it will take an equal membership with all the other elements of Orthodoxy that make up the realm of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as an equal metropolitanate. His Eminence's enthronement ceremony is scheduled for June 20 at our cathedral in Seoul.
In other words, the Korea church only has to send one report a year to the Patriarch, and the rest of the time it pretty much does as it wants. It can't concecrate or supply its own bishops, but as a Metropolitan See it has a right to a bishop - as an Exarchate it was merely blessed with one. This establishes the Orthodox hierarchy in Korea pretty much until there's no one here to lord over. (And maybe even after that - some day there might be a titular bishop of Korea well after Korea's done and gone.)
The date given for the enthronenment might be wrong; Fr. Daniel also told me June 27th. Nonetheless, the event should draw a lot of local bigwigs - Metropolitan Nikitas of Hong Kong, Metropolitan Joseph, a bishop or two from Russia, and maybe even Metropolitan Daniel of Japan. There'll be reps from a bunch of churches, too.
Right now His Eminence is off in Greece and Istanbul chillin' with Bart and collecting loot. He won't be back for a month or more.
What's most interesting about all this, though, is that Soterios has been made Metropolitan of Korea - not South Korea, not titular bishop of Zelon, but Korea. Now it wouldn't really matter if North Korea were included, since Christian presence there in general is minimal. But while the Dear Leader was trekking across Russia a few years back he happened to visit an Orthodox church somewhere out in the boonies. He decided it was cute and wanted one to decorate his capital; so now one is being built in Pyongyang and some boys were sent to Russia to get themselves ordained. For those of you who don't know, there's more than a wee bit of bad juristictional blood between Lexie and Bart. So the MP could see this as a power grab.
Regardless, relations on the ground between North and South are remarkably good. I can't say much for obvious reasons, but here's a (slightly censored) communiqué:
Encounter with the Orthodox Representatives from North Korea
His Eminence Sotirios and Protopresbyter Daniel Na met Chairman Yuri and Vice-Chairman Petros of the Orthodox Organization in Pyung-Yang, North Korea at Mt. Kum-Kang in North Korea from 20th April through 22nd April 2004 in order to discuss mutual cooperation for the construction work of the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church Building at Dong-Baik Dong, Pyung-Yang City, North Korea which will be completed in April of 2005. The Chairman and Vice-Chairman were baptized in Moscow when they visited there in January 2004. They are the first Orthodox Christians in North Korea along with four other students who are studying in Moscow to be Orthodox priests in 2005.