Education About Asia: Online Archives

Religious Diversity in Korea

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Since the mid-1960s, when the gates for immigrants from Asia first opened wide in North America, more and more signs in Korean have appeared on the streets of both the US and Canada. Many of those signs advertise restaurants or shops selling Korean food. However, a significant percentage of those signs appear in front of church buildings and proclaim that a Korean congregation worships within. The overwhelming majority of those congregations are Protestant. A 2012 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that 61 percent of Korean–Americans are Protestant Christians. Another 10 percent are Catholic. Only about 6 percent are Buddhists, while the remaining 23 percent told Pew they are unaffiliated.1 It would not be unreasonable, therefore, to assume that, since a majority of those of Korean descent on this side of the Pacific Ocean are Christian, on the other side of the Pacific, in Korea itself, the majority of the people living there surely must also be Christians. However, that assumption would be incorrect.