Have you encountered the 卍 symbol gracing what looks like not a Buddhist temple but a shop or private home while wandering down an alley? It marks the house of a Korean shaman. Not everyone believes media accounts that there are one million shamans in contemporary South Korea, but shamanism
Radiant smiles invite potential novices into a life of monasticism. “Joining the clergy: the most brilliant choice of my life,” reads the slogan above the good-looking young monk and nun. Welcome to Buddhist recruitment, 21st century style. Released last November by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, South Korea’s
“Homosexuality is not just any crime. It’s a serious problem that tries to change laws, systems, society and culture and corrupt our children.” Jei Yanggyu, a professor at Handong University, voiced such concerns on the university’s internal website on Dec. 23. “If Handong loses its identity as
Islam has a very small presence in South Korea. As recently as 2005, the religion section in the country’s census did not offer “Muslim” as a category. Currently, the number of Muslims in South Korea reportedly stands at roughly 200,000, or about 0.4 percent of the population.
Last month, Oh Chung-sung, a 24-year-old North Korean soldier, made an audacious sprint across the intensely guarded border that separates North and South Korea. He was dragged to safety by South Korean soldiers after fleeing a hail of gunfire. He sustained five gunshot wounds, and after undergoing surgeries, he woke
In South Korea, Buddhist monks and Protestant pastors aren’t required to pay a dime of tax on their incomes. This exemption is set to end in 2018 — against vehement objections from Protestant churches. There has not been actual legal tax exemption for the income that religious
If you regularly walk around central Seoul, you’ve probably seen, or heard, them — elderly folks walking around carrying placards with heartwarming messages such as “Lord Jesus Heaven. No Jesus Hell” and “666.” As they walk, they carry with them speakers that play hymns, or broadcast their evangelizing messages.
Seen from the back of a high balcony, pastor Kim Sam-hwan cuts a small figure. “Amen!” he calls into two microphones suspended on long wires from the ceiling above. “Allelujah!” responds his flock of five thousand. “Allelujah!” he counters. “Amen!” they roar. If Kim appears tiny, it’s only
It is 1975. An assembly of people are gathered together, standing in front of their purported leader. The group is fervently shaking their hands and praying. A girl, her eyes closed and seemingly on the verge of tears, is mouthing something. It’s a fleeting but powerful image. The leader
I live in a tower of glass and concrete, surrounded by lush trees. My friends and family are men and women accustomed to wearing finery, driving oversized sedans and dining at choice restaurants. But deep down, hollowness is wrenching. South Korea is an economic miracle, I often hear. So many