5 Astonishing facts about Religion in South Korea

Before I came to South Korea I always thought that China, Japan and Korea are following the Buddhist Religion. When I started living here I found some astonishing facts about South Korea religion and their beliefs.


1. If you see the figures about the Koreans following Buddhism are only 22% of the whole poulation. Though there are many beautiful budha temple in South Korea.

2.Second in the figures is Christianity, in which around 18% are protentant christians and only 10.8% are Catholics. Also there are many Church in South Korea. I have also attended few prayers there.

3. The highest in figure are people with no religion is South Korea which caters to almost 46.5% of the Korean population, i.e almost half of the population.

4. So there is a very clear distinction between the people who have no belief's in their life. I have also seen people who are Buddhist or Christians but do not have the right knowldege to practice it or havent been to Church or temple even once in their life.

5. Sometimes you might meet people in Korean whose mom is buddhist and Her son is Christian or any kind of multi-religion families. Its astonishing but true at times I think there is no such strong faith about heavenly dieties in South Korea. Hence they confirm that they have no religion. Buddhism in Korea came from the influence of China whereas Christianity was propogated by American missionaries in South Korea. But these days trends are being changed as I can see some buddhist monks and Christian missionary making an effor to propogate the religions on the streets of South Korea.


Re: 5 Astonishing facts about Religion in South Korea

Hi surprised plenty, 

from beliefs, I meant  some kind of faith but it's not mandatory to have a fith or believe in God. It just surprised me as mostly I thought that all Koreans are Buddhist but the facts were very different in the real world which astonished me.  People have full rights to choose their beliefs.

Keep commenting, or follow my blog for some discussions.

Best wishes,
Koje blogger

Re: 5 Astonishing facts about Religion in South Korea

Buddhism is a philosophy, not a religion. Buddha was a man with an idea, that is all.

And the only reason Christianity is becoming popular here is because of the American presence in South Korea for the last 60 years. Before then, Catholocism was non-existent. You believe what you are taught when you are young. We are told Santa exists until one daywe find out it is not true. If you are raised to believe in God-and God-that day usually does not come so the faith in that belief lives on. South Korea actually banned recently the teaching of evolution in high schools. Let the brain-washing continue.






Re: 5 Astonishing facts about Religion in South Korea

You're playing loose with the facts here, Paul.  Christianity--including the Catholic Church--has had a strong presence in Korea for much longer than 60 years.  In fact it was the Catholic missionaries who first came here to spread the word and they were European, not American.  It is true that American missionaries who came in the late 1800's and early 1900's spread Protestantism, which now is the most popular strain (itself broken into countless subsects).

So Koreans were well Jesus'd up before Uncle Sam made a permanent presence here on the peninsula.  This was especially true in the North, were churches had a stronger hold.  Let us not forget that Kim Il-sung himself grew up in a Christian household.  He even served as church organist in his younger days.

Re: 5 Astonishing facts about Religion in South Korea

Hey Chris. I agree, loose. But it is such a topic, hard to be literal. I believe he mentioned only Christianity in his little post so I picked up on that. Prior to the war, there were not that many Christians in the South. You were bang on about the North by the way. But why did all these North Koreans come South?

Prior to the Korean War (1950–1953), two-thirds of Korean Christians lived in the North, but most later fled to the South.[3] It is not known exactly how many Christians remain in North Korea today, and there is some uncertainty about the exact number in South Korea. It is known that by the end of the 1960s there were around one million Protestants in South Korea, but during the "Conversion Boom" period ending in the 1980s, the number of Protestants increased faster than in any other country. The 2005 South Korean census showed 29.2 percent of the population as Christian, up from 26.3 percent ten years previously.[5] Presbyterian Churches are the biggest Protestant denominations in South Korea, with close to 20,000 churches affiliated with the two largest Presbyterian denominations in the country.[ 

Re: 5 Astonishing facts about Religion in South Korea

Two things, Gaz-

1. Don't forget about the diaspora, which served to decrease the percentage of potential Christians in Korea. In the States, at least, I can't (or rather, am too lazy to Google) state a figure, but experience tells me that a large portion belong to one church or another, largely Protestant. While I'll concede that one factor in attendance and "belief" may be social, the same social factors could have played a factor here in Korea. It's not for nothing that religious centers have also doubled as community centers. It can also be speculated that during the Japanese Occupation, the Koreans who belonged to one Christian ganglia or another, a number that was not insignificant, due to access to education, among other things, are also the same ones who tended to move abroad, since they had access to language (English) and education, and tended to be more well off and able to cope with the stresses of emigration.

2. While Buddhism may be a philosophy at heart, diverging sects from the time of Buddha to intervening doctrines, dogmas, canonical texts, etc. have transformed the teachings to religion. Many, at least. Eg Pure Land Sect, who beleive in a Western Paradise as a penultimate. Or the sects who base their practice upon the Lotus Sutra. Also, the schism between the Lesser and Greater Vessel ideologies w/r/t the "saved." I mean, ultimately, the dividing line between a populist philosophy and a religion is and always has been thin. While one may argue that Buddhism is a philosophy, one cannot ignore that it is also undeniably religion just as one cannot ignore that the term "bling" is now a word.  

Re: 5 Astonishing facts about Religion in South Korea

Buddhism, as the Buddha taught it, is a philosophy. If anything, it has become a business that looks like a religion, but it does not make it so. The making money off of Buddhism is one thing the Buddha actually did not want. But what can you do, greed is powerful. Not the way of Buddhism but the way of life in many ways to be sure. Cheers.

Re: 5 Astonishing facts about Religion in South Korea

Christianity was brought to Korea by a Korean missionary who went abroad, followed its teachings and was the first to practice it in Korea. Following years saw a migration of others but initially it was a Korean not Americans who brought Christianity to this country. Not a very well researched piece of work I must say. Not sure how koreabridge runs its journalism section but this is reminiscent of MBC broadcasting, however much less damaging in its appearance. 

Re: 5 Astonishing facts about Religion in South Korea

"Not sure how koreabridge runs its journalism section . . ."

Koreabridge doesn't run a journalism section; it simply links to blog content from blogs about Korea.  The "journalistic standards" of each blog depends on the blogger.

Re: 5 Astonishing facts about Religion in South Korea

"Buddhism", as the Buddha taught it, wouldn't be called Buddhism. It'd be considered his teachings, words of wisdom, guide, etc. Buddhism, as known by all, is a blanket term like Christianity, with the core commonality being that they base their practices upon the Buddha's teachings, as well as supplimentary material (by other bodhisattvas). Buddha's philosophy (realizations and recorded delineations, rather) is philosophy. Buddism, however, is a set of practices based upon certain canonical ideologies/texts and dogmas. Various sects, like Christian denominations, base their faith upon differing interpretations and texts onwards (eg Pure Land, who believe in a Western Paradise; Ch'an, or Zen, who don't necessarily believe in complete annihilation, but rather, nirvana in the now; Lotus, who I forget due to a long absence from study in this subject; Hinayana, who believe that only the educated elect are capable of salvation; etc. etc)

Buddhist centers need money. Some though, as evinced by many here and elsewhere, are more money-oriented machines (not unsimilar to many Protestant or Catholic establishments). But that doesn't qualify a universal; like churches, not all temples are businesses.

Re: 5 Astonishing facts about Religion in South Korea

Thanks for giving the facts!

Well the blog is only my perception and my views. You are most welcome to debate on the topic or give your views rather than pointing fingers on journalism, or Korea bridge etc. Surely the articles are influenced by some news or the piece i read.

Please feel free to share your views. This also enhances our knowledge.

These are facts which astonished ME, as a blogger.

Thanks for your comments,