> Useful Information > Korea in Brief > Religion
Buddhism first arrived in Korea in the 2nd year (A.D.
372) of the reign of King Sosurim of the Goguryeo Kingdom.
After its introduction, Buddhism exerted a powerful influence
in the Baekje Kingdom and Silla Kingdom. Bulguksa Temple
and Seokguram Grotto, which are designated as World Cultural
Heritage sites by UNESCO, are Buddhist creations from
the Silla Kingdom.
Buddhism has exercised a far-reaching influence on Korean
culture throughout its long history. The nation's invaluable
Buddhist heritage abides in buildings, sculptures, paintings
Protestantism & Catholicism
Protestantism came to Korea after the signing of the
Korean-American Treaty in 1882. Because Christianity challenged
the basic values of Joseon society, its believers were
subject to persecution in the early years, but as Christians
took an increasingly active role in the anti-colonial
struggle against the Japanese and churches promoted more
educational opportunities, Christianity gained acceptance.
Today Korean churches evangelize abroad, and approximately
twenty five percent of the Korean population is Christian.
Catholicism first came to Korea as a western scholarly
pursuit. Korean tributary missions to the imperial court
of China took an interest in Jesuit missionary books and
brought them back to Korea. In 1784 the first Korean was
baptized in Beijing and returned to Korea to set up a
house of worship. Despite considerable persecution by
the government, numerous people joined the Catholic Church.
Presently, over two million people belong to the church.
Confucianism became a common philosophy in ancient Korea.
When it came into contact with fundamental Korean sentiments,
Confucianism brought about profound changes and exerted
considerable influence on the Korean people. It has been
an indispensable component of the Korean moral system,
way of life and national laws.
Confucianism, which was the major philosophy of the Joseon
Dynasty, eventually gave rise to Silhak, or practical
learning. Confucianism has deeply permeated the consciousness
of Korean people and can be seen today in many forms,
including two ceremonies that
continue today: Jongmyo Jerye, the royal ancestral service
at Jongmyo Shrine and Seokjeon Daeje, the worship rites
at the Seonggyungwan in honor of Confucius, his disciples,
and other celebrated Chinese and Korean Confucian scholars.
Various shamanistic practices are deeply ensconced in
Korean life. Shamanism was similar with folk beliefs from
ancient times. It is closely related to the primitive
cults which practiced communal rites for the gods of heaven,
and which were uninfluenced by Buddhist tradition. One
distinguishing characteristic of Korean shamanism is that
it seeks to solve human problems through a meeting between
humans and the spirits. This can be seen in the various
types of shamanistic rites which are still widely practiced
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