Religion in Korea

Religion in Korea encompasses a number of different traditions The indigenous religion of Korea and of the Korean people is Korean shamanism Korean Buddhism had flourished in past centuries of the history of Korea, but was suppressed throughout the Joseon era, which supported Korean Confucianism as a state religion1 Christianity was promoted by the ruling and intellectual class in the final decades of the Joseon state, in the late 19th century, while the Confucian social structure was rapidly crumbling2

Since the division of Korea into two sovereign states in 1945, North Korea and South Korea, religious life in the two countries has diverged, shaped by different political structures:

  • Religion in South Korea has been characterised by a rise of Christianity and a revival of Buddhism After being suppressed for decades, Korean shamanism has survived, and shamans continue to perform their rites
  • Religion in North Korea is characterised by a state secularism in which public religious practices are prohibited At the same time, the government shows support for Cheondoism, a form of Korean indigenous religion3


  1. ^ Grayson, 2002 pp 120-138
  2. ^ Grayson, 2002 pp 155-158
  3. ^ Lee, 1996 p 110


  • James H Grayson Korea - A Religious History Routledge, 2002 ISBN 070071605X
  • Sang Taek Lee Religion and Social Formation in Korea: Minjung and Millenarianism Walter de Gruyter & Co, 1996 ISBN 3110147971

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