What is the Religion of North Korea? Unraveling the Mystery (More Than You Think)

What is the Religion of North Korea

North Korea often conjures images of strict ideology and government control. But what is the religion of north korea? Despite being officially atheist, the story in North Korea is far more nuanced. This blog delves into the fascinating, and sometimes contradictory, world of faith in North Korea.

I’ll explore the traditional practices of Shamanism, the rise and fall of Christianity, and the current state of Buddhism. I’ll also uncover the unique case of Chondoism, a religion with some level of government acceptance.

What is the Religion of North Korea?

Although North Korea is officially an atheist state. But, some people there still follow some religions. These include Shamanism, Chondoism, Christianity, and Buddhism.

Even though North Korea says people can practice any religion, it’s not true in reality. North Korea follows ideas from Marxism-Leninism, which doesn’t agree with religious beliefs.

North Koreans learn from a young age that religion is risky and bad. Still, some people practice their religion secretly, even though it’s dangerous.

Shamanism In North Korea

Shamanism In North Korea

Korean shamanism has been the traditional religion of Koreans for many years. After Korea split into North and South, most shaman priests moved to South Korea. We don’t know much about how many people in the North still follow the religion. Shamanism is all about people connecting with spirits.

From what defectors tell us, fortune-tellers are still very popular in North Korea. Lots of people there rely on fortune-tellers to help them decide things like getting married, moving, or finding a job.

Even though the government tries to stop people from going to fortune-tellers with propaganda, there’s a rumor that Kim Jong Il himself would ask a fortune-teller for advice on how to plan his sudden decisions.

Chondoism In North Korea

Chondoism, regarded as the national religion of Korea, has garnered some level of acceptance from the North Korean government over time. They even have a political group called the Chondoist Chongu Party in Pyongyang.

Chondoism means “religion of the Heavenly Way”. It started in the 1800s and is linked to Confucianism. Chondoism focuses on making yourself better. It says that as you get better, you get closer to heaven.

After Korea split, most Chondoists stayed in the north. Today, there are about 2 million Chondoists in North Korea.

Christianity In North Korea

Christianity In North Korea

Christianity came to Northern Korea in the late 1700s when Catholic missionaries arrived. Later, Protestant missionaries came too, and many Koreans became Christians. By the early 1900s, Pyongyang became an important Christian place, often called “the Jerusalem of the East”.

Kim Il Sung, the leader of North Korea, came from a Christian family. His mother was a leader in the Presbyterian church.

After North Korea was founded in 1948, the government started to crack down on Christians because they thought they were connected to America and the West. Many Christians disappeared, and some went into hiding.

Now, there are only four churches left in Pyongyang. We don’t know much about the people who go to these churches or if they are real believers. Some people think the government built new churches in the last 30 years to show that there is religious freedom.

Buddhism In North Korea

Buddhism started in Korea around the 4th century but didn’t grow much. Now, North Korea has about 50 Buddhist temples, mostly old and not used for worship. The government doesn’t like Buddhism and only around 10,000 people believe in it.

But things are changing. A school for Buddhist clergy opened, offering 3-year courses. Some temples are open for tourists, like the Pohyon Temple, which is very old and well-preserved. It’s in the Mount Myohyang area and dates back to the 11th century.

FAQs About What is the Main Religion of North Korea

What is the primary religion in North Korea?

North Korea officially doesn’t have a main religion because it’s an atheist country. But some people still believe in things like Shamanism, Chondoism, Christianity, and Buddhism.

Why did North Korea outlaw religion?

North Korea says it’s really hard for its people to practice religion. The government thinks that not obeying the leader as the top authority, whether for religious reasons or not, is against the country’s interests. People who don’t follow this rule can get punished badly.

Is there a mosque in North Korea?

The Ar-Rahman Mosque stands in Pyongyang, North Korea, located within the premises of the Iranian embassy. It is recognized as the country’s first and only mosque.

Are Muslims allowed to pray in North Korea?

Muslims in North Korea are still prohibited from practicing their religion. NGOs and North Korean defectors have reported that engaging in any unauthorized religious activities, such as praying, reading the Bible, or contacting missionaries, could result in punishment, including detention in prison camps.

Summing Up

So, what is the religion of North Korea? North Korea doesn’t have an official religion. Most people there don’t follow any religion; they’re atheistic or non-religious. However, there’s a small group of Christians, Buddhists, and people who practice Confucianism.

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