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What is the religion of South Korea?


South Korea is a country with a rich cultural heritage and diverse religious traditions. The country’s religious landscape has been shaped by a blend of indigenous beliefs, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Christianity. In this article, we will explore the various religions practiced in South Korea, their history, beliefs, and practices.

Indigenous Beliefs

Before the introduction of Buddhism and Confucianism to Korea, the indigenous people practiced shamanism, which involves the belief in spirits and ancestor worship. This tradition still exists today in some parts of South Korea, especially in rural areas.


Buddhism was introduced to Korea in the 4th century CE and quickly became one of the most popular religions in the country. Its teachings focus on achieving enlightenment through meditation and following the Eightfold Path. Today, Buddhism remains an influential religion in South Korea with numerous temples and monasteries.


Confucianism was brought to Korea from China during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) and became the dominant ideology of the ruling class. Confucianism emphasizes filial piety, respect for elders, and adherence to social hierarchies. Even though Confucianism is not considered a religion, it has influenced Korean society’s values and traditions.


Christianity was introduced to Korea by Western missionaries in the late 19th century. Today, South Korea has one of the fastest-growing Christian populations in the world, with Protestants comprising the majority of believers. Christianity’s emphasis on individual salvation and egalitarianism has helped it gain popularity among Koreans.


Catholicism was first introduced to Korea in the late 18th century by French missionaries. Despite facing persecution and martyrdom, Catholicism has grown steadily over the years, with several prominent Catholic figures in Korean history.

Other Religions

Aside from the major religions, South Korea is also home to smaller religious groups such as Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism. These religions have a small but growing following in the country.

Religious Festivals

South Korea celebrates various religious festivals throughout the year. Some of the most popular include Buddha’s Birthday, Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving), Christmas, and Lunar New Year. These festivals are celebrated by both religious and non-religious Koreans.

Religious Tolerance

South Korea is known for its religious tolerance, with the government guaranteeing freedom of religion in its constitution. Despite this, tensions between different religious groups still exist, especially between Christians and Buddhists.

The Role of Religion in Korean Society

Religion plays a significant role in Korean society, influencing everything from politics to business. Many Koreans turn to religion for comfort and guidance during difficult times, while others use it as a way to connect with their cultural heritage.

Challenges Faced by Religion in South Korea

Despite its strong religious traditions, South Korea is facing challenges such as declining church attendance and an increasingly secular society. The rise of materialism and individualism has also led some Koreans to question the relevance of religion in their lives.


In conclusion, South Korea’s religious landscape is diverse and complex. From shamanism to Christianity, each religion has left its mark on Korean culture and society. While challenges remain, religion continues to play an important role in shaping the country’s identity and values.

Are there Muslims in Korea?

South Korea has a Muslim population of approximately 200,000, with 70 to 80% being foreigners according to the Korea Muslim Federation. The majority of South Korea’s Muslim population is concentrated in Seoul, making up 40% of the total population. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been hosting an annual Iftar dinner during Ramadan since 2004.

What is the religion in North Korea?

Although North Korea is officially an atheist state, there are some religious practices observed, including Shamanism, Chondoism, Christianity, and Buddhism. While the North Korean constitution claims to protect religious freedom, in practice, this is not always the case.

Why is Christianity so big in Korea?

The connection between Korean nationalism and Christianity played a significant role in its popularity in Korea, especially during the Japanese occupation from 1910 to 1945. Many Christians identified with the cause of Korean resistance against Japan’s cultural assimilation campaign.

Do they celebrate Christmas in South Korea?

Korea is a festive place during Christmas, with extravagant light displays and festive decorations in malls, streets and shops. Cheonggyecheon Stream is particularly beautiful with all its lights during this time.

Is South Korea Islam friendly?

South Korea is a country that is accommodating to Muslims. The government and private organizations have helped educate Koreans about Islam, and businesses have adapted by providing facilities for Muslims. This has made the country a welcoming place for Muslims.

What is the biggest religion in Korea?

In 2010, Pew Research Center found that 46% of people did not identify with any religion, while 23% were Buddhist and 29% were Christian. The 2015 national census showed that 56.1% had no religious affiliation, 19.7% were Protestant, 15.5% followed Korean Buddhism, and 7.9% were Catholic.

One notable aspect of religion in South Korea is the strong influence it has on politics. Many political leaders in South Korea have been affiliated with religious groups, and religious organizations have often played a role in social and political movements. For example, during the 1980s democracy movement, Catholic and Protestant churches were instrumental in advocating for human rights and democratic reforms.

Another important aspect of religion in South Korea is its role in the economy. Many successful businesses in South Korea have been founded by religious leaders or have close ties to religious organizations. Additionally, religious tourism has become a significant industry in South Korea, with many visitors coming to see the country’s famous temples, shrines, and other religious sites.

Despite the challenges facing religion in South Korea, there are also signs of hope for its continued growth and influence. For example, there has been a resurgence of interest in traditional Korean shamanism among younger generations who are seeking to reconnect with their cultural roots. Additionally, some religious groups have adapted to changing societal values by embracing more progressive beliefs and practices.

Overall, religion remains an integral part of South Korean society and culture. While it may face challenges and changes in the years to come, the rich history and diversity of religious traditions in South Korea will continue to shape the country’s identity and values for generations to come.

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