Buddhism and Christianity are the largest practiced, religions in Korea today with just under 50% of the population claiming to practice one of these religions or branches of these religions such as Catholicism. There are also small communities practicing Islam and Judaism as well,and approximately 50% of the people in modern-day Korea are not religious.

Buddhism came to Korea late in the 4th century AD. While initially co-existing with shamanism, Buddhism began to flower and find its place among the Korean population. The Buddhist influence can be seen in the numerous temples scattered throughout the peninsula, many of which contain important works of art.

The first official missionaries to Korea were Underwood and Appenzeller from the United States who arrived in Korea on Easter of 1885.

When the Korean War broke out in 1950, the churches devoted themselves to social works, providing clothes and food and operating orphanages.In the 1960s, churches achieved rapid growth and many Christian democratic leaders participated in a wide range of political and social affairs for the restoration of democracy and the promotion of human rights. Major denominations of Protestantism in Korea include the Presbyterian, Methodist, Holiness, Baptist and Pentecost.

The Catholic Church started in Korea in the mid-18th century as a study group of young scholars for Western Learning. It gradually spread in the form of underground churches by commoner converts. Under Japanese rule, too, the number of Catholics increased constantly, showing rapid growth from the late 1950s, as did Protestantism. The Vatican recognized the Korean Catholic hierarchy for the first time in 1962, and appointed Stephen Kim as the first Korean Cardinal in 1968.

The Myeondong Cathedral, established by a French Priest in 1898, is a symbol of Korean Catholicism, where 3-4 thousand believers and tourists visit everyday. On Sundays, wedding ceremonies are held and the place is crowded all day long with more than 30 thousand visitors coming and going every Sunday.

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