How Did Christianity Spread In Korea

Korea is traditionally regarded as a country of Confucianism and Buddhism, but a large amount of resident Christians show that Christianity has also been in the Korean culture for centuries. Dating back to the late 15th century, the history of Christianity in Korea is very diverse, with it rising and waning in strength over the years. Christianity first arrived in Korea through the Catholic missionaries coming from China, and it was later spread through further missions sent in from Rome. As Protestantism emerged, more denominations became established in Korea and both Catholic and Protestant believers slowly grew in numbers.

Though initially banned under the Joseon Dynasty, Christianity started to gain some foothold in Korean culture during the late 18th century. Korean scholars and members of nobility who came in contact with Western missionaries in China or Japan brought Christianity home with them in the form of books and Bible studies. During Empress Myeongseong’s reign, Protestantism was officially established in Korea and churches were first built in Seoul.

The religious awakening in Korea around the 19th century would eventually lead to mass conversion to the religion. There are several factors that contributed to this period of conversion in Korea, such as the unequal treaties imposed on Korea, the decline of Confucianism, and student missions to China and Japan. These students, who had previously studied Christianity abroad and returned to Korea, spread the religion across the country. The missionaries in Korea also set up schools and hospitals to help evangelize through service and education.

As Christianity gained more followers, churches were built and denominations started to grow. Churches not only provided a place to meet and pray, but also served as a source of information and knowledge to influence the country’s social, economic, and political development.

In the early 20th century, a revival of the Christian faith spread across the country. Many of the converted Koreans were nationalists and shared the same ideals that drove the independence movement in the country; Christianity and faith thus became intertwined. The rise of Christian groups and organizations during this period helped the religion spread even further.

Today, Christianity is firmly rooted in the Korean culture, despite continuous efforts of the Joseon Dynasty to suppress it. There is a high representation of Christianity in Korea, with the majority of the population professing to be Protestant, followed by a sizable Catholic minority. Reports state that Christianity has over 10 million adherents in the country, showing just how embedded the religion has become in the Korean culture.

Influence of Christianity in Korea

Christianity has often been seen as a foreign religion in Korea, but it has had a huge influence on Korean culture in multiple aspects. Most notable is Christianity’s impact on the independence movements in Korea – many of the patriots who fought for the country’s freedom during the Japanese occupation were Christians. Additionally, Korean Christians have had a big presence in social activities such as charities and welfare organizations, from helping the poor to educate children on their civil rights.

Besides its influence on social activities, Christianity has also been prominent in Korean art and literature. Korean writers, poets and modern novelists, many of them Christians, wrote and composed works of literature which depicted the plight of the Korean people under Japanese and Chinese occupation. The music industry has also been enriched by Christianity-influenced music, ranging from traditional Korean gospel choirs to more contemporary styles.

Finally, Christianity continues to be an important element of the Korean family system. This is especially true within the Confucianism tradition, which seeks to bring the family together and promote harmony and peace. As such, many families attend Sunday services and celebration services to strengthen the moral and religious bond of their kin.

Attitudes Towards Christianity in Korea

Attitudes towards Christianity in Korea ranges from admiration to criticism. On one hand, Christianity is praised for its influence in the country’s culture, literature, and its contribution to the welfare and social activities of the society. On the other hand, though, some Koreans criticize it for its foreign origin, or for its role in the colonization of the country.

Additionally, Christians in Korea have faced some infringement against their religious freedom. This occurs mostly due to conflicts between different denominations, and also from powerful people in society who don’t admire the religion. However, in recent times, Christians in Korea have received more recognition and are becoming an important part of the social fabric.

Christian Denominations in Korea

Christians in Korea are divided into different denominations. The leading one is the Presbyterian Church, which has millions of members. This is followed by the Methodists, Baptists, and Catholics, among other denominations. The Roman Catholic Church is the largest non-Presbyterian denomination in Korea, with millions of adherents in the country.

The recent growth of Christianity in Korea has also given rise to new evangelical churches, mainly led by young and dynamic pastors. These churches have gained a lot of popularity and are seen as a new face of Korean Christianity.

Challenges of Christianity in Korea

Christianity in Korea still faces a lot of challenges, mainly due to its foreign origins and occasional conflicts between different denominations. The Korean society is still quite traditional and conservative, and the rise of Christian movements have unsettled some parts of society. There is also the issue of radicalism in Christianity, which some people have used to push their own agenda and extremist views.

Additionally, Christianity in Korea has also been somewhat divided. Differences exist between Protestantists and Catholics, and there is a separation between Korean and foreign born believers. This is due to the long history of missionaries in the country, which has caused some tension between different Christian groups.


Christianity is a big part of the Korean culture. From its early resurgence during the late 18th century to its influence in the country’s music and literature, the religion has become a major player in the country’s current social and political landscape. Though it has faced some criticism in recent years, Christianity has become an important aspect of Korean culture, with over 10 million adherents today.

Jennifer Johnson is an experienced author with a deep passion for exploring the spiritual traditions of different cultures and religions. She has been writing about religion and spirituality for the past ten years in both print and digital platforms, engaging readers in meaningful dialogue about the soul's journey through this life. With degrees in Comparative Religion and English Literature, she brings an insightful perspective to her work that bridges the gap between traditional knowledge and modern theories. A lifelong traveler, Jenn has lived in multiple countries exploring various paths to understanding faith, and her dedication to learning new things is palpable in every piece she creates.

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