As in South Korea today,” says the Rev.Samuel

As we
learned in class, Koreans, historically, lived under the influence of many
religions such as Shamanism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, and etcetera.

Korean culture was greatly influenced by religions, and various religious
elements have shaped the Korean people’s way of thinking and behavior in many
ways. Therefore, Korean culture can not be separated from religion.

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Every
religion has different characteristics and teaching that it has been chosen
depending on the needs and demands of people. For instance, when the three
kingdoms tried to embrace China’s advanced system and culture to transform the
decentralized power to be centralized, centralization was accomplished due to
their acceptance of Buddhism as their religion. At the tribal stages, each
tribe kept independent personality with independent traditions and beliefs,
which hindered to consolidate. They needed something to break up the tribes to
unite the entire community together, and Buddhism played its role there. Buddhism
was purposely used as a political tool and then naturally permeated into
Korean’s life.

Ironically,
even though Buddhism was permeated into Korean’s life earlier than Christianity,
Christianity occupies higher number of followers than Buddhism in modern time.

Among 50 percent of South Korean who profess some religious affiliation, Buddhism,
23 percent, and Christianity, 29 percent, take half percentage of religious
affiliation in Korea (“Religion in Korea”, n.d.). Christianity has grown from a
few hundred adherents in the late 19th century to “about 9 million
Protestants and 3 to 4 million Catholics in South Korea today,” says the
Rev.Samuel Moffet. About one-third of South Korean are now Christian, and South
Korea even sends more missionaries abroad to spread the word than any other
country except the United States (Lampmane, 2007). I think the rapid growth of
Christianity was possible because Korean people were desperate for the help and
care after Japanese Colonization, and Christianity apparently met not only
physical needs such as foods and clothes, but also people’s spiritual needs in
the midst of great suffering.

The
conflict among religions has not gone away for a long time throughout the world,
and it still exists in Korea. Maybe it is more intensified even though it
doesn’t seem to be very serious at present. Especially, relationship between
Christianity and Buddhism has always been an issue. Korea, geographically, has
a relatively smaller territory compare to other nations such as China, and
religious activities overlap in many ways of Korean people’s life. Since the
freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Constitution in Korea, it looks
peaceful on the outside, but it is expected to have a lot of issues, problems,
and worries inside.

According
to the article written by Barbara O’Brien,
the former President Chun Doo Hwan, who asserts himself as a Christian
suppressed Buddhism by adopting anti Buddhist policies, and Buddhism was the
only religion that was attacked by Christian and government during his period.

Christian and government tortured Buddhist by preventing their religious
activity and by even destroying few temple buildings. When the former President
Lee Myung Bak became president, new round of tension was raised because of
religious discrimination against Buddhism. For instance, Transport and Maritime
Affairs published a map of Seoul on its website with the location of every
Christian church while Buddhist temple not shown (“Christian-Buddhist Tension” n.d.). Such unacceptable and barbarous act in
modern time raised the tension between two religions, and it received public’s
attention with negative impression towards religions.

It is
inevitable to avoid the discord among religions since they show differences in
philosophies, practices, and beliefs. Taking my acquaintance’s experience as an
example, I will introduce a real life religious conflict dialogue between Christian
parents and an atheist son talking about marriage with Buddhist fiancé. In this
dialogue, atheist son is trying to persuade faithful Christian parents’
blessings and recognition to be engaged with a woman who is Buddhist. However,
the parents are really stubborn that they would never consider non-Christian as
son’s fiancé because they believe marriage is a sacred act under religion. They
prefer to keep a Christian as son’s partner so that they can share common
philosophies, practices and beliefs.