A glimpse into the Korean faith


2018-05-10 08:17 GMT+8

South Korea is surely an interesting nation among Asian countries. Situated to the south of the Korean peninsula, this East Asian country’s civilization dates back to the ancient times. Half the country’s population does not profess any religious faith, a quarter is Christian, and the remaining population are divided into several other faiths (46% non-religious, 29% Christian, 23% Buddhist, 2% other). Regardless of religious difference, the entire population nevertheless adhere to a strict tradition of respecting social status and the elderly.

For someone unfamiliar with the culture, a traveler might even have doubts on how to greet or even correctly communicate with someone. For example, there are very precise rules for handshaking. If you are shaking hands with someone who is older than you, or has a higher position in an official capacity, you must use both hands in the handshake. There are anecdotal incidents where maintaining these rather strict rules has caused anecdotal incidents with adverse effects on the South Korean national soccer team.

The problem with the soccer team was that the team members were too courteous toward each other, hence could not play fairly and further their success. The coach discovered the cause of failures and taught them to communicate with each other on the same level when competing in the sport. This decision and training paid off, and led the team to victories the cause of the failures and taught them to communicate with the same level of treatment between them when competing. This training paid off and South Korea’s national team went on appear in a number of finals at the FIFA World Cup.

I was curious to know where these values ​​come from, as well as the cultural and linguistic tradition. First, the path of its history has not been easy, and as a result of the Cold War the country divided two, north and south. The country suffered heavily from poverty and disease during the Korean Civil War, but its economy saw rapid development shortly after the war’s end. Today, Seoul has become one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world, coexisting with its older, traditional culture.

The majority of the population (97%) are ethnic Koreans, and Seoul is home to the majority of the population. Ancient Buddhist temples have been preserved to this day, still maintaining their peaceful image. It is said Buddhism entered Korea in 372 from China during the Three Kingdoms of Korea. Confucius philosophies prevailed during the Joseon Dynasty, and has since become the dominant in Korea.

Christianity was introduced in Korea after the war mainly in the capital, and by 1970 it spread throughout the country. Most Christians are classified as either Protestant or Catholic. You will see the extent of Christianity in Korea in the number of churches you will bound to encounter in the capital city. Christian Koreans normally go to church on Sundays. Sunday’s Church tradition has greatly helped create and maintain tight communities.

It is a prestige to visit the same church also attended by celebrities, the president and other public figures; and it is a commonplace to establish new connections. Christians also send their missionaries to foreign countries with the aim of promoting their religion. As for shamanism it is one of the oldest faiths introduced in Korea and it still has considerable following today. Religious holidays are national holidays in South Korea.

For instance, December 25th or Christmas is a national holiday, so is Buddha’s birth in May, based on Lunar Calendar. Learning and discovering about tradition, customs, cultural heritage and beliefs facilitates communication between people; a friendly relationship can be established regardless of ideological differences.

Proper understanding and communication is an invaluable bridge between cultures of the world.

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