Why many Koreans are Atheist? and Other Religions in Korea

Unlike in some countries where a single religion is dominant, Korea has a wide variety of religious beliefs. Historically, Koreans lived under the influences of shamanism, Buddhism, Confucianism. And now modern times, they also accepted Christianity.

According to the 2015 statistics, 44% of the Korean population has a religion and 56% with no religion. 

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Image source: Korea.net

Buddhism became the ideology of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) and Confucianism became a code of ethical conduct

Protestantism is now the largest religious group in Korea and even built a megachurch in Seoul that can be filled up to 800,000 people. It is said that 1 out of 5 Koreans may be a Protestant. It now holds occupy a central position in the country’s politics, society, and culture.

For Catholicism, it was introduced to Korea from China and was established in 1784. Pope Francis even visited South Korea and beatified 124 Korean martyrs.

In Korea, there also remain native religions such as Cheondogyo, Daejonggyo, and Jeungsangyo.


Cheondogyo was formed based on Eastern Learning (Donghak) and has a doctrine that “Man is Heaven,”

Daejonggyo worships in the founder of the first Korean state, Dangun, and boosts nationalism.

Jeungsanism (also Jeungsangyo), means “The Dao/Tao of Jeung-san”. They recognize that Gang Ilsun as the incarnation & personification of their God Sangjenim.

In 1955, the Islamic Society of Korea was established. Korean Muslim Federation was also founded in 1967.

Having no religion in South Korea is common, with 56% percent of the population are not affiliated with any religion, as of the 2015 national census. South Korea also has the 5th largest population of atheists in the world, according to a 2012 Gallup International poll.

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