Article Provided by Hyunsoo Lee.
The presence of a small community of Muslims in Korea can be traced back to the 13th to 14th centuries. Contacts with Muslims in that period were probably linked to the active trading and commercial exchanges between Korea and China. This small Muslim presence can be shown in Korean history till the time of the Japanese colonization in the 1920s. At that time, thousands of Muslim Kazaks came to Korea and settled under the Japanese colonial government.
In 1950 the Korean War broke out. The UN sent troops to Korean to fight against the North Korean communists. As part of the war effort the nation of Turkey sent a battalion of soldiers to Korea. This was the beginning of first modern contacts of Koreans with Muslims. Two Turkish imams came with their fellow soldiers and began propagating Islam to war weary Koreans through education, in the Chung Jin private learning institute. Within a couple of years two Koreans became Muslims through their efforts. It is said that there are now more than 35,000 ethnic-Korean Muslims since the first two Korean converts in 1955. Korean Muslims built their first mosque, called Central Masjid, at Iteawon in Seoul with financial help from Muslim countries. Now there are more than 10 mosques and 40 prayer centers throughout the country.
Muslims Get Noticed
Korean Muslims have started to get attention from society because of their gradual growth in Korea. Although full statistics are lacking their numbers apparently has been gradually growing in recent years. In addition more foreign Muslims are making their appearance in Korea. By 2007 there were about 110,000 expatriate Muslims in South Korea from: Indonesia, 37% | Uzbekistan, 26% | Bangladesh, 21% | Pakistan, 16%
Cultural Problems in Korea
Due to the lack of Korean understanding of Islam and its culture, Muslims seem to be mistreated and discriminated against culturally in factories and schools. Culturally eating pork seems to be almost unavoidable while living in Korea. For example, one Muslim Uzbek worker who came to Korea as a trainee worker under a South Korean government’s training program for Asians. He was unfortunately assigned to a pig farm for training even though Muslims are forbidden to raise pigs for slaughter according to their religion.
- Pray for a greater awareness and understanding of Islamic religion and culture in Korean society in general. This will facilitate greater social integration of Muslims in society leading Muslims to be open to Christians.
- Like Korean society in general, Korean churches are also lack of the understanding of Islam. Because of the negative impact of various incidents involving Koreans in Afghanistan and elsewhere, animosity and fear toward Muslims and Islam have crept into the hearts of some Korean believers. Believers will need to overcome fear (1 John 4:18 and 2 Tim 1:7). Pray for Korean believers to have a renewal of vision and desire to reach out to Muslims.
Background Information on Korea (WorldFactbook)
An independent Korean state or collection of states has existed almost continuously for several millennia. Between its initial unification in the 7th century – from three predecessor Korean states – until the 20th century, Korea existed as a single independent country. After the Korean War (1950-53), an armistice was signed in 1953, splitting the peninsula along a demilitarized zone at about the 38th parallel. South Korea today is a fully functioning modern democracy. South Korea is located in Eastern Asia, southern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea.
Economy of Korea
Since the 1960s, South Korea has achieved an incredible record of growth and global integration to become a high-tech industrialized economy. Four decades ago, GDP per capita was comparable with levels in the poorer countries of Africa and Asia. In 2004, South Korea joined the trillion dollar club of world economies, and currently is among the world’s twenty largest economies. The South Korean economy’s long term challenges include a rapidly aging population, inflexible labor market, and overdependence on manufacturing exports to drive economic growth. However, its continued growth and vision for high-tech industry makes it a country to be envied.
Population: 48,955,203 (July 2013 est.) World Rank #26
Life Expectancy at Birth: 79.55 years. World rank #42
Ethnic groups: homogeneous (except for about 20,000 Chinese)
Religions: Christian 31.6% (Protestant 24%, Roman Catholic 7.6%), Buddhist 24.2%, other or unknown 0.9%, none 43.3%
Languages: Korean, English widely taught in junior high and high school
School life expectancy. 17 years
Video: Open Doors Testimony North Korea (9:06)
The Church in North Korea has suffered like no other place. It’s the worst of the worst. Many N.Koreans are left to their own devices and many flee the country to neighbouring China, only to often to be caught and repatriated to face almost certain death.
We partner with a network of Christians who are helping to to turn the tide. Food relief, refugee protection, providing God’s Word and evangelism are at the heart of the underground movement to bring light into the darkest place on earth. You can help. Firstly by sharing the video with others and informing people who probably had no idea it was this bad. Secondly, pray. Join with thousands of others in a network of prayer. Lets PUSH in North Korea.