A Gallup Korea survey conducted in 2021 showed that about 50 per cent of South Korea’s population declared themselves as unaffiliated and not ascribing to any religious sect or organization. Yet recent reports are saying that most South Korean Millennials and Gen Z’s are leaning toward the practice of Buddhism as they follow social media influencers promoting the religion.

buddhist temple in South KoreaActually, Buddhism used to be the major traditional religious influence in South Korea, as evidenced by as many as twenty thousand well-preserved Buddhist temples existing across the country; including hundreds of centuries old sachai or places of worship built by Buddhist monks.

However, as the turns of events have it a decline in Buddhist practice transpired around the 18th and 19th centuries when Christianity, particularly Protestantism was introduced to the South Korean population. Christianity in general made strong inroads in Korean society for several decades but it also went on a decline as was revealed by early 2000 surveys.

The transition reached a point when many modern Koreans began declaring themselves as unaffiliated and not belonging to any religion. Social studies experts claim that the decline in religious beliefs and affiliation was an indication of the young people’s growing distrust in religious organizations. Apparently, modern South Koreans considered religious practices and affiliation as irrelevant amidst SoKor’s demanding educational and workplace systems.

What Exactly is Buddhism and its Teachings

Buddhism is a religion that believes in rebirth, which adheres to the concept of maintaining good behavior in one’s present life as a way to overcome sufferings in the next life. Suffering naturally occurs, which Buddhism practitioners accept as normal in human lives. They manage to deal with the struggles by way of spiritual meditation and by continuing to carry on with their physical labor.

The aspect that draws many to adhere to Buddhism is that the religion does not believe in deities or a god but only in attaining enlightenment or nirvana. It’s a state that will enable them to escape the cycle of having to go through sufferings as a human after rebirth.

buddha and buddhist teachingsBuddha is neither a deity nor a god, but is said to be the first and only person to have experienced enlightenment. Actually Buddha was Siddhartha Gautama, a prince in India during the B.C.E. (Before the Common Era) but renounced his title and wealth after seeing the poor people of India dying. In experiencing the struggles of humans by becoming a beggar, he came to the realization that life in general was basically a period of suffering.

Through meditations and travel throughout Asia, Gautama or Buddha attained enlightenment. He came to the realization that the way to escape poverty and struggle is to settle on the Middle Way of life. It’s the path that does not focus on extreme poverty or extreme wealth but toward focusing on achieving good actions in one’s present life regardless of status in life. Mainly because bad behaviors and actions in the previous life can adversely influence one’s rebirth into the next life.