About Korea > Religions in Korea

Religious Affiliations

Religious Affiliations

The two main religions in the Korea of today are Buddhism with about 23-24% of the population and Christianity the choice of at least 32%. It is hard to correctly tabulate the number of Christians since many belong to more than one church denomination and members who drift from one congregation to the other are not necessarily removed from the rolls of any one of them. Moreover, Korean statistics often separate Christians and Roman Catholics.

Christianity (Roman Catholic and Protestant) is well represented all over Korea and surpassed Buddhism in numbers in the 1990's. It is estimated that almost 50% of the population in and around Seoul are Christian, while Buddhism is stronger in the southern provinces.

Other religions, including the Muslin and Bahai faiths as well as the indigineous Shamanism (traditional spirit worship) and Cheondogyo (a mix of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianims, Shamanism and Christianity) account for a little less than 10% of the population. A little more than 1/3 of Koreans profess to not belong to any organised religious group.

Korea has produced several hundred "new religions" or sects over the last 200 or so years. One of the most internationally known is the Unification church, now known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, founded by Sun Myung Moon in 1954. The oldest of these "new religions" is Chon'dogyo, founded in 1860 as a reaction to Western teachings. The practice of establishing new churches continues to this day, for a number of reason, including as a solution to power struggles within a particular church group.

Although very few people profess to be adherents of Confucianism, the vast majority of Korean, regardless of their religious affiliation or non-affliliation, subscribe to Confucian values, which continue to strongly influence Korean society, even into the 21st century.

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Last Updated on 2021-09-24

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