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Do Koreans convert to Islam?


Korea is known for its rich cultural heritage and diverse religious practices. However, the question remains whether Koreans convert to Islam or not. In this article, we will explore the historical background of Islam in Korea and analyze the current trends of conversion.

Historical Background

Islam was first introduced to Korea in the early 9th century through Arab traders. However, due to the lack of significant Muslim presence, Islam did not gain traction until the late 19th century when Korean Muslims started to emerge. During the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945), Korean Muslims faced persecution and had to practice their faith in secret.

Current State of Islam in Korea

Today, there are approximately 100,000 Muslims living in Korea. Most of them are foreigners who came to work in Korea or study in Korean universities. However, there is also a growing number of Korean Muslims who have converted to Islam due to various reasons such as marriage, personal conviction, or dissatisfaction with other religions.

Why Koreans Convert to Islam?

There are many reasons why Koreans convert to Islam. Some are attracted to the simplicity and purity of Islam’s monotheistic beliefs while others are drawn to its emphasis on community and brotherhood. Additionally, some Koreans convert to Islam as a form of rebellion against the traditional Confucian values that dominate Korean society.

Challenges Facing Korean Muslims

Despite the growing number of Korean Muslims, they still face many challenges such as discrimination and lack of understanding from mainstream society. Moreover, they also struggle with finding halal food and proper prayer facilities in a country where Islam is not widely practiced.

The Role of Korean Muslim Organizations

To address these challenges, Korean Muslim organizations such as the Korean Muslim Federation have been established to support and promote the Muslim community in Korea. They provide various services such as halal certification, prayer facilities, and Islamic education.

The Impact of Covid-19 on Korean Muslims

The Covid-19 pandemic has also affected the Korean Muslim community. Due to the closure of mosques and prayer halls, Muslims had to find alternative ways to perform their daily prayers. Moreover, the pandemic also caused a shortage of halal food in Korea, making it difficult for Muslims to maintain their dietary restrictions.

Islamic Culture in Korea

Despite the challenges facing Korean Muslims, Islamic culture is slowly gaining ground in Korea. For instance, many Korean Muslims have started to open halal restaurants and shops to cater to the growing Muslim population. Additionally, Islamic festivals such as Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha are now celebrated in Korea.

The Future of Islam in Korea

The future of Islam in Korea remains uncertain. While the number of converts is increasing, it still represents a small minority in a country dominated by Confucianism, Buddhism, and Christianity. However, with the growing diversity of Korean society and the increasing interest in different cultures and religions, it is possible that Islam will continue to grow in Korea.


In conclusion, Koreans do convert to Islam due to various reasons such as personal conviction, marriage, or dissatisfaction with other religions. Despite facing challenges such as discrimination and lack of understanding from mainstream society, Korean Muslims are slowly making progress in promoting Islamic culture and building a vibrant Muslim community in Korea.


1. “Islam in South Korea.” Wikipedia.
2. “South Korea’s Growing Community of Muslims.” Al Jazeera.
3. “Korean Muslims Struggle With Discrimination.” The Diplomat.
4. “Korean Muslim Federation Provides Halal Certification.” The Korea Times.
5. “Korean Muslim Community Struggles As Coronavirus Causes Shortage of Halal Food.” The National.

How many Koreans convert to Islam every year?

According to the KMF, up to 3,000 South Koreans adopt Islam annually, but often they encounter prejudice and a lack of understanding. Historically, Christianity in Korea gained influence by engaging in charitable work such as constructing hospitals and schools, and consequently became a significant societal presence.

Is South Korea Islam friendly?

South Korea is considered a Muslim-friendly country due to increased education about Islam through governmental and private organizations. Businesses have also started to allocate resources to cater to Muslim needs. This indicates a positive shift towards accommodating Muslim visitors in the country.

What is the main religion in South Korea?

Pew Research Center (2010) reported that nearly half of the population (46%) do not follow any religion, while 23% are Buddhist and 29% are Christian. In the 2015 national census, the percentage of irreligious people increased to 56.1%, followed by Protestantism (19.7%), Korean Buddhism (15.5%), and Catholicism (7.9%).

Where do most Muslims live in Korea?

The Seoul Muslim community is the hub of Islamic culture in South Korea, with several mosques scattered throughout the country. An estimated 200,000 Muslims reside in South Korea, with approximately 70-80% being foreigners. Seoul specifically houses 40% of the country’s total Muslim population, as reported by the Korea Muslim Federation.

Do Korean eat halal food?

In the past, it was challenging to locate halal food in South Korea. However, there is now a growing number of immigrants opening halal food restaurants in the country. Unfortunately, these establishments are limited in number and are only found in specific areas, which can make them difficult to locate.

What religions are allowed in Korea?

Shamanism, Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Islam all peacefully coexist in South Korea. This country is unique in that it embraces multiple major religions.

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in Islamic culture among Koreans. This can be seen in the increasing number of Korean tourists visiting Muslim-majority countries such as Turkey, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Furthermore, there has been a rise in the popularity of halal tourism in Korea, with many travel agencies offering specialized packages for Muslim travelers.

Moreover, Korean universities have started to offer courses on Islamic studies and Arabic language to cater to the growing demand from Korean students. This indicates a positive shift towards greater acceptance and understanding of Islam in Korean society.

However, despite these developments, there are still some negative perceptions towards Islam among some segments of Korean society. This can be attributed to the portrayal of Islam in the media and the association of Islam with terrorism. Therefore, it is important for Korean Muslims and Islamic organizations to continue promoting education and awareness about Islam to dispel these misconceptions.

In conclusion, while the future of Islam in Korea remains uncertain, it is evident that there are positive developments and a growing interest in Islamic culture. As the Korean society becomes more diverse and globalized, it is possible that Islam will continue to grow and flourish in Korea.

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