South Korea Religion

In South Korea, freedom of religion prevails. Religion has historically had a great influence, but half of the population today consider themselves non-religious.

Buddhism and Daoism (Taoism) came from China in the 300s. Buddhism was banned just over a thousand years later and pushed out by Chinese wisdom doctrine Confucianism, which praises education and obedience to the authorities. Confucianism still partially characterizes society, partly by placing great emphasis on education.

South Korea Population Forecast

At the end of the 18th century, the first Catholic missionaries came from Europe to Korea. The Catholics suffered severe persecution. By the end of the 19th century, the Christians were able to operate freely, and then Protestant missionaries arrived. During the latter part of the 20th century, Christianity grew sharply and went about Buddhism as the largest religion.

Among South Koreans who believe in any religion, 45 percent are Protestant, 35 percent Buddhist and 18 percent Catholic. A Seoul Pentecostal church with over 800,000 members is counted as the world’s largest Christian congregation. After the United States, South Korea is the country that sends most Christian missionaries to the outside world.

Shamanism and religious beliefs live on a small scale, especially in the countryside. Koreans have combined domestic shamanism with elements of Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism and Christianity. A native mixed religion, chondogyo, has emerged in response to Western influence.

  • Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in South Korea, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.

Population composition

The population of South Korea is extremely homogeneous. It consists of 99% Koreans. Chinese are the largest minority.

Population distribution

South Korea has twice the population of North Korea, even if it is 20% larger. The agglomeration is the coastal lowlands in the west and south of the peninsula. The urbanization has progressed. 80% of the population lives in cities.


The most important religion in South Korea is Christianity, to which 40% of the population belong, of which over 80% are Protestants.

A quarter of the population are Confucians, a fifth are followers of Buddhism. Many South Koreans still cultivate shamanic cults, especially ancestor worship.



National park for Park

December 9

South Korea’s parliament has voted for President Park Geun-hye to face national court corruption and abuse of power. Park Geun-hye is deprived of power while the Constitutional Court is reviewing Parliament’s decision. That process can take up to six months. The President’s duties are temporarily taken over by Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-Ahn.

Intrusion of North Korean hackers

December 6

According to reports from the South Korean military, South Korea’s military cyber command has been subjected to a hacking attack from North Korea.

Sanctions against North Korea

1 December

South Korea introduces new sanctions on North Korea, among other things, it is forbidden for South Koreans to do business with a number of North Koreans and North Korean institutions that have been gathered on a special list. However, the sanctions are mainly symbolic since there is no trade between the countries.


Park willing to retire

November 29th

President Park is asking Parliament to look into ways for her to step down, but that must be done in order.

Intelligence cooperation agreement with Japan

Under the agreement, South Korea and Japan will share intelligence information related to North Korea. The agreement is controversial in South Korea because it is about cooperation with Japan that many South Koreans have not yet forgiven for its brutal actions as a colonial power in 1910-1945.

Minjupartiet wants to put Park before the national court

November 21st

In a vote, a majority of the largest opposition party votes to act for Park to be brought before national law. Prosecutors have then brought charges against Park’s advisers for, among other things, extortion and abuse of power and also asked to interrogate the president. This is seen as the president himself being suspected of involvement in the scandal. A sitting president cannot be brought to justice, but Park can be prosecuted when her term expires.

Mass protests against Park

Hundreds of thousands protest in the streets of Seoul against President Park’s connection to the corruption scandal, demanding her resignation. Opinion polls show she has the support of less than 5 percent of South Koreans.

Corruption scandal hits Park

November 2

The scandal involves a female friend and advisor to the president who is accused of running the government backstage and having used her connection with the president to make donations of more than $ 70 million to foundations she herself controlled. Choi Soon-Sil has been President Park’s friend for 40 years and is the daughter of a former religious leader. She has been arrested by police accused of fraud and abuse of power.


Opposition politicians travel to Beijing

August 8th

A group of members of the Mining Party will discuss the issue of the US missile defense and reportedly try to alleviate tensions with China which has increased following the South Korean decision (see above). President Park has urged the group not to travel because she believes it could further worsen relations.

China criticizes US missile defense plans

August 8th

South Korea’s decision is considered to increase regional tensions and goes against Beijing’s security interests. President Park responds that the decision is because China failed to control the threat posed by its allied North Korea.


South Korea should have US missile defense system

July 8

South Korea and the US announce that the US missile defense system THAAD will be used in South Korea to protect against missiles from North Korea. The system will be deployed in 2017. Both China and North Korea strongly object to the message.


No to military talks with North Korea

May 23

South Korea rejects an offer by North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un on joint military talks. In order for a dialogue to take place, North Korea must first discontinue its nuclear weapons, they say.


Election defeat for the Saenuri Party

April 13

The Liberal Opposition Party The Minist Party becomes the largest party in the parliamentary elections with a mandate more (123) than the Saenuri Party. The newly formed People’s Party also makes a good choice and wins 38 seats.


Kaesong closes

February 10

The South Korean government announces that it will suspend operations at Kaesong, the industrial zone operated jointly with North Korea. The closure is due to North Korea’s latest rocket launch and nuclear test. According to South Korea, Kaesong, an important source of income for North Korea, should not be used to finance the development of nuclear weapons.

South Korea Religion

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