Introduction / History Koreans are believed to have ancestral links to the ancient Mongolians and Turks. They likely migrated to the Korean peninsula from as far away as the Siberian region.
Korean is the language of South Korea and is spoken by as many as 80 million people worldwide.
Distinct regional differences in culture and politics exist among the South Koreans. The most important regional difference is between the Gyeongsang region in the southeast and the Jeolla region in the southwest. The two regions maintain a rivalry that reaches back to the fourth century AD. The rivalry originated from a struggle for control of the peninsula. Interregional marriages are rare and travel between the regions in sparce despite a major highway connecting the regions since 1984. Constructed for the specific reason of increasing interregional travel, the highway has not served to improve visitation or commerce between the regions.
The political power elite have come largely from the Gyeongsang region and, consequently, this region has benefitted most from government development assistance. In contrast, the Jeolla region has remained comparatively rural and undeveloped.
Regional stereotypes, like regional dialects, have been breaking down under the influence of centralized education, nationwide media, and several decades of population movement since the Korean War. Stereotypes remain important in the eyes of many South Koreans however. Each region has its own stereotypical beliefs about the other regions. These beliefs may or may not be based in truth and accuracy.
Where are they located? South Korea is a peninsula located in East Asia to the south/southwest of China. It has a rugged mountainous terrain with only a fraction of the country considered plains. The plains areas are located along the coast. Four large rivers and five cities with more than one million people each exist in the nation. Most of the mountainous land is covered in forest and only about one-fifth of the country is suitable for agriculture. South Korea is cold & dry in the winter and hot & humid in the summer. Most of the annual rainfall takes place from June to September.
What are their lives like? South Korea boasts Asia's third largest economy. Exports of electronics, automobiles, and machinery allow the country to afford many conveniences of the modern world. High rates of cable and/or satellite television usage and high-speed internet connectivity make South Korean a member of the cutting edge technology users of the world. The country is also credited with pioneering the television via mobile devices and internet revolution.
What are their beliefs? The dominant religions of South Korea are Christianity and Buddhism despite the fact that most of the population express no particular affiliation with a religion. South Korea has the third largest number of professing Christians of all the East Asian and Southeast Asian countries.
There is a great deal of ambiguity in the practice and adherence to the belief systems that exist in South Korea. Many people see religion as an inherited trait as much or more so than a faith. Also, many South Koreans practice elements of several belief systems. Christianity is the only faith that maintains distinct lines between those who belong to the belief system. For the other religions, it can be difficult if not impossible to know who practices what.
New religions also spread through South Korea very rapidly. This could be due to the almost unparalleled media access available to South Koreans. This fact also contributes to the difficulty in placing accurate statistical figures upon the numbers of adherents to the many belief systems of the nation. It is also necessary to note that even established religions may be 'adjusted' to fit modern times or combined with aspects of other beliefs and become a functionally new religion.
The Christian missionaries who arrived in the 1800s and following have contributed much to the health, education, and general well-being of the South Koreans. Christians were vocal in their support of the liberation of the Korean peninsula from imperialist Japan. The establishment of schools, hospitals, orphanages, and universities by the Christians paved the way for the modernization of South Korea.
The Korean Church has had amazing growth in numbers and influence. It was founded on sound indigenous principles, blessed with a succession of revivals, refined by persecution and is now one of the foremost in the world for missions vision. Its presence is highly visible; every level of society has been impacted and growth has been remarkable. Of the 11 largest mega-congregations in the world, 10 are in the one city of Seoul. Seoul also hosts the largest Pentecostal, Presbyterian and Methodist congregations in the world and the second-largest Baptist. With over 15,000 missionaries, the Korean Church sends the second-highest number of cross-cultural workers to other parts of the world.
What are their needs? Despite the recent economic downturn of 2008/2009, South Korea is a thriving and modern society with economic and technological advantages. Despite these advantages, the culture is very confused when it comes to Christianity. Many modern, relativistic approaches to faith and hybrid religious belief systems exist. Certain religions are thought to be connected to eras of time with no real meaning outside of that context. Added to these issues is the influx of neo-paganism as promulgated by the internet, television, and digital communication.
South Korea needs continued clear, consistent, and relentless representation of Biblical Christianity. Like any other country on earth, this nation needs people teaching the Bible, reinforcing its principles, applying its doctrines, and living out its requirements to love, serve, and persist in the faith.
Prayer Points Pray that God will ignite passion for Him and His word in the local Christians.
Pray they will evangelize the nation with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Pray they will spread the gospel and distribute Bibles to oppressed nations in their region.
Praise God for the amazing missionary vision of the Korean Church. Ask God to continue to raise up Korean missionaries to go to the ends of the earth.