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Included Nations/Regions: Korea, (North) Democratic Republic of [x], Eastern Asia [x]


Religion and State (RAS) Indexes1

Religion Indexes (Korea, (North) Democratic Republic of)

State Funding of Religion
Summary categories: None (0/3), Low (1/3), Medium (2/3), High (3/3)

Ranking: /253
Societal Discrimination of Minority Religions
Summary categories: None (0/3), Low (1/3), Medium (2/3), High (3/3)

Ranking: /253
State Regulation of Majority or All Religions
Summary categories: None (0/3), Low (1/3), Medium (2/3), High (3/3)

Ranking: /253
State Discrimination of Minority Religions
Summary categories: None (0/3), Low (1/3), Medium (2/3), High (3/3)

Ranking: /253
For details on how these indexes were constructed, click here

Korea, (North) Democratic Republic of: Major World Religions (1900 - 2050) (World Religion Database, 2020)2

The following groups with less than 1% of the population were hidden from this graph: Chinese folk-religionists, Christians, Muslims.


Korea, (North) Democratic Republic of: Largest Religious Groups (1900 - 2050) (World Religion Database, 2020)2

The following groups with less than 1% of the population were hidden from this graph: Catholics, Independents, Lamaists, Protestants, Sunnis, unaffiliated Christians.


Religious Adherents (World Religion Database 2020)2

Religion Korea, (North) Democratic Republic of
[x]
Eastern Asia
[x]
The World
Baha'is --- 0.00% 0.11%
Buddhists 1.52% 19.14% 6.83%
--Mahayanists 1.52% 18.34% 4.89%
--Theravadins --- 0.07% 1.72%
--Lamaists 0.00% 0.73% 0.23%
Chinese folk-religionists 0.06% 26.88% 5.98%
Christians 0.38% 7.65% 32.16%
--unaffiliated Christians 0.00% 0.07% 1.46%
--Orthodox --- 0.00% 3.75%
--Catholics 0.01% 1.01% 15.90%
--Protestants 0.02% 2.74% 7.51%
--Independents 0.35% 4.48% 5.00%
Daoists --- 0.53% 0.11%
Confucianists --- 0.45% 0.11%
Ethnic religionists 12.28% 4.39% 3.65%
Hindus --- 0.00% 13.58%
--Vaishnavites --- 0.00% 5.15%
--Shaivites --- 0.00% 4.86%
--Saktists --- 0.00% 3.57%
Jains --- 0.00% 0.08%
Jews --- 0.00% 0.19%
Muslims 0.01% 1.45% 24.20%
--Sunnis 0.01% 1.45% 21.56%
--Shias --- 0.01% 2.44%
--Islamic schismatics --- 0.00% 0.21%
New religionists 12.88% 2.75% 0.85%
Shintoists --- 0.16% 0.04%
Sikhs --- 0.00% 0.34%
Spiritists --- 0.00% 0.19%
Zoroastrians --- 0.00% 0.00%
Non-Religious 72.87% 36.58% 11.57%
--Agnostics 57.29% 30.15% 9.65%
--Atheists 15.58% 6.44% 1.92%

Religious demographics (Korea, (North) Democratic Republic of)3

The country has an area of 46,500 square miles and a population estimated at 22.7 million. The number of religious believers was unknown but was estimated by the Government to be 10,000 Protestants, 10,000 Buddhists, and 4,000 Catholics. Estimates by South Korean and international church-related groups were considerably higher. In addition, the Chondogyo Young Friends Party, a government-approved group based on a traditional religious movement, had approximately 40,000 practitioners, according to the Government. According to a South Korean press report, in 2002 the chairman of the Association of North Korean Catholics stated that the Catholic community in the country had no priests but held weekly prayer services at the Changchung Catholic Church in Pyongyang. However, some doubted that all of those attending services were Catholic.

In Pyongyang there were reportedly four state-controlled Christian churches: two Protestant churches under lay leadership (Bongsu and Chilgol Churches), the Changchung Roman Catholic Church, and the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church. The Chilgol Church is dedicated to the memory of former leader Kim Il-sung's mother, Kang Pan-sok, who was a Presbyterian deaconess. The number of congregants regularly worshiping at these churches is unknown.

The Presbyterian Church of Korea in the South was partnering with the Christian Association in North Korea to rebuild Bongsu Church. In the fall of 2006, according to press reports, a delegation of 90 Christians from South Korea visited the Bongsu church to celebrate completion of its first phase of renovation. According to religious leaders who traveled to the country, there were Protestant pastors at these churches, although it was not known if they were resident or visiting.

In its July 2002 report to the U.N. Human Rights Committee, the country reported the existence of 500 "family worship centers." However, according to the 2007 Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU) White Paper, defectors interviewed were unaware of any such centers. Observers stated that "family worship centers" may be part of the state-controlled Korean Christian Federation, while an unknown number of "underground churches" operate apart from the Federation and are not recognized by the Government. Some NGOs and academics estimate there may be up to several hundred thousand underground Christians in the country. Others question the existence of a large-scale underground church or conclude that no reliable estimate of the number of underground religious believers exists. Individual underground congregations are reportedly very small and confined to private homes. At the same time, some NGOs reported that the individual churches are connected to each other through well-established networks. The regime has not allowed outsiders the access necessary to confirm such claims.

There were an estimated 300 Buddhist temples. Most were regarded as cultural relics, but religious activity was permitted in some. A few Buddhist temples and relics have been renovated or restored in recent years under a broad effort aimed at "preserving the Korean nation's cultural heritage." In 2007 reconstruction was completed on the Shingye or Singyesa (Holy Valley) Temple, which was destroyed during the Korean War. The Republic of Korea (ROK) Government and foreign tourists funded the reconstruction. A South Korean monk, the first to permanently reside in North Korea, has lived at the temple since 2004 but serves primarily as a guide for visiting tourists rather than as a pastor caring for Buddhists living in the area.

The Government announced in June 2007 that 500 monks and Buddhist followers were making day-long pilgrimages to the recently renovated Ryongthong temple in Kaesong strictly for religious purposes. Foreign diplomats in Pyongyang who visited the temple were told that the two monks living there may be joined by more. State-controlled press reported on several occ

Summary Information

Korea, (North) Democratic Republic of
[x]
Eastern Asia
[x]
The World
[x]
Region Eastern Asia The World --
Total Population4 25,315,685 1,645,135,480 7,335,774,068
Area in square miles 46,540 4,554,601 196,939,900
Life Expectancy from birth, in years5 71.2 78.6 71.9
Gross National Income per capita, in current international dollars5 -- 33,196.0 16,101.0
Description of Polity Score6 (strongly autocratic) -- --
Judicial Independence Composite Score, as average of scores for higher and lower courts7 -3.1 -0.3 0.8
Official Religion(s)8 None -- --

Korea, (North) Democratic Republic of - Google Map


Religion and the State


Constitutional Features [ View Excerpts]

Features of Constitution

Korea, (North) Democratic Republic of
[x]
Is there a constitution?9 Yes
Does the constitution state an official religion?10 no, but a secular ideology is official [ Ten Great Principles, nos. 4-5 ]
Does the constitution provide for freedom of religion?10 yes [ Article 68 ]
Does the constitution protect religious equality/non-discrimination?10 partial [ Article 66 ]

Constitution

Korea, (North) Democratic Republic of
[x]
Constitution Year10 1948
Last Amended10 2016
Source10 World Constitutions Illustrated
Translation10 Source is an English translation.
Current as of10 October 8, 2018

Socio-Economic Measures

Military Measures

Korea, (North) Democratic Republic of
[x]
Eastern Asia
[x]
The World
[x]
Composite Index of National Capability, in fraction of 117 0.0132601 0.049582783 0.005162584
2012 Military expenditure (% of GDP)5 -- -- --

Demographic and Health Measures

Korea, (North) Democratic Republic of
[x]
Eastern Asia
[x]
The World
[x]
Total Population4 25,315,685 1,645,135,480 7,335,774,068
Life Expectancy from birth, in years5 71.2 78.6 71.9
2012 Net Migration Rate (migrants per 1,000 population)5 0.0 -680.0 --
Urban Percentage of Total Population13 61.0 60.8 54.3
Urban Population Growth, by percentage13 0.8 2.2 2.0
Fertility Rate, in total births per woman13 1.9 1.6 2.5
Infant Mortality Rate, in deaths per 1000 live births13 15.1 8.2 30.5
HIV Prevalence, in percentage of population ages 15-49 with HIV13 -- -- 0.8

Other Measures on Religion, State, and Society


Constitution Clauses Related to Religion


Constitution Excerpts (clauses that reference religion) (Korea, (North) Democratic Republic of)10

Preamble

...

Regarding "The people are my God" as his maxim, Comrade Kim Il Sung ...

...

Article 66.

All citizens who have reached the age of 17 have the right to elect and to be elected, irrespective of ... religious belief.

Article 68.

Citizens have freedom of religious belief. This right is granted through the approval of the construction of religious buildings and the holding of religious ceremonies. Religion must not be used as a pretext for drawing in foreign forces or for harming the State or social order.

[*Note: A long series of human rights reports, both governmental and independent, conclude that neither equality of religionists or freedom of religion are honored in practice.]

Ten Great Principles of the Establishment of the Unitary Ideological System (1967, made official 1974)

4.

Preamble

Accept the Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s revolutionary thought as your belief and take the Great Leader’s instructions as your creed. ...

...

5.

...

(2) Regard as a holy duty and supreme glory reducing the concerns of our Beloved Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung and fight for it with complete dedication.

...

Variable Details

  • For more details on State Funding of Religion (FUN_4CAT) see this document.
  • For more details on Societal Discrimination of Minority Religions (SOC_4CAT) see this document.
  • For more details on State Regulation of Majority or All Religions (NXX_4CAT) see this document.
  • For more details on State Discrimination of Minority Religions (MXX_4CAT) see this document.
  • Sources

    1 The Religion and State (RAS) Project is a university-based project located at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel and is directed by Jonathan Fox. Round 3 of the RAS includes all countries with populations of 250,000 or more as well as a sampling of smaller states and offers annual measures from 1990 to 2014. The methods used for conducting the RAS3 collection and the complete codebook can be reviewed online. Or, the codebook and data file can be downloaded free of charge here. For details on how the RAS indexes reported on the ARDA’s National Profiles were coded, constructed, and placed into categories, click here.

    2 Todd M. Johnson and Brian J. Grim, eds. World Religion Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2022).

    3 The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report is submitted to Congress annually by the Department of State in compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. This report supplements the most recent Human Rights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect to matters involving international religious freedom. It includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. These State Department reports are open source.

    4 The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Demographics reports the estimates of religious demographics, both country by country and region by region. The RCS was created to fulfill the unmet need for a dataset on the religious dimensions of countries of the world, with the state-year as the unit of observation. It estimates populations and percentages of adherents of 100 religious denominations including second level subdivision within Christianity and Islam. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database.

    5 Relying on agencies from each country, as well as a synthesis of data from United Nations divisions, Eurostate Demographic statistics, the U.S. Census international database, and its own data collection, the World Bank's Open Data site offers free and open access to data about development in countries around the globe.

    6 The Center for Systemic Peace (CSP) is engaged in innovative research on the problem of political violence within the structural context of the dynamic global system. The Center supports scientific research and quantitative analysis in many issue areas related to the fundamental problems of violence in both human relations and societal-systemic development processes. The Center continually monitors political behavior in each of the world's major states and reports on emerging issues and persisting conditions related to the problems of political violence and "state failure." A dataset with these and other international measures can be downloaded from here. Used with permission. *Note: Polity Scores range from -10 to 10 and include the following categories: -10 to -9: strongly autocratic, -8 to -7 autocratic, -6 to -4 weakly autocratic, -3 to +3 anocratic, +4 to +6 weakly democratic, +7 to +8 democratic, +9 to +10 strongly democratic.

    7 Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) is a new approach to conceptualizing and measuring democracy. V-Dem provides a multidimensional and disaggregated dataset that reflects the complexity of the concept of democracy as a system of rule that goes beyond simple presence of elections. The V-Dem project distinguishes between seven high-level principles of democracy: electoral, liberal, participatory, deliberative, egalitarian, majoritarian, and consensual, and collects data to measure these principles. A dataset with these and other international measures can be downloaded from here. Used with permission.

    8 The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Government Religious Preference (GRP) measures government-level favoritism toward, and disfavor against, 30 religious denominations. A series of ordered categorical variables index the state's institutional favoritism in 28 different ways. The variables are combined to form five composite indices for five broad components of state-religion: official status, religious education, financial support, regulatory burdens, and freedom of practice. The five components' composites in turn are further combined into a single composite score, the GRP score. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson, the principal investigator of the World Christian Database, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.

    9 Data under the "Features of Constitution" heading are drawn from coding of the U.S. State Department's 2008 International Religious Freedom Reports conducted by researchers at the Association of Religion Data Archives. The article by Brian Grim and Roger Finke describes the coding of the International Religious Freedom reports. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

    10 Text from country constitutions was copied from primary documents obtained online using a variety of sources, including the Constitute Project, World Constitutions Illustrated, and government sources. When the text was in a language other than English, it was translated to English by ARDA staff or with web-based translation utilities such as Google Translate. Emphases were added to the text by ARDA staff to differentiate religious content from non-religious content. Text is current to the date listed in the "Current as of" field shown above. Please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are aware of any incorrect information provided on this page.

    11 Freedom House is an independent non-governmental organization that offers measures of the extent to which governments are accountable to their own people; the rule of law prevails; and freedoms of expression, association, belief and respect for the rights of minorities and women are guaranteed. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

    12 The CIA's World Factbook was created as an annual summary and update to the now defunct National Intelligence Survey (NIS) studies. The first classified Factbook was published in August 1962, and the first unclassified version was published in June 1971. The NIS program was terminated in 1973 except for the Factbook, map, and gazetteer components. The 1975 Factbook was the first to be made available to the public with sales through the US Government Printing Office (GPO). The year 2010 marks the 67th year of the World Factbook and its predecessor programs. The maps and flags are also from the World Factbook, which is an open source.

    13 Relying on agencies from each country, as well as a synthesis of data from United Nations divisions, Eurostate Demographic statistics, the U.S. Census international database, and its own data collection, the World Bank's Open Data site offers free and open access to data about development in countries around the globe.

    14 The Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom is a systematic, empirical measurement of economic freedom in countries throughout the world. A set of objective economic criteria are used to study and grade various countries for the annual publication of the Index of Economic Freedom. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

    15 The United Nations Human Development Reports provide data and statistical analysis in various areas of human development. The Human Development Report (HDR) presents two types of statistics: the human development indicator tables, which provide a global assessment of country achievements in different areas of human development, and thematic statistical analysis. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

    16 The 2013 Gender Inequality Index is a composite measure reflecting inequality in achievements between women and men in three dimensions: reproductive health, empowerment and the labor market. It varies between zero (when women and men fare equally) and one (when men or women fare poorly compared to the other in all dimensions). The health dimension is measured by two indicators: maternal mortality ratio and the adolescent fertility rate. The empowerment dimension is also measured by two indicators: the share of parliamentary seats held by each sex and by secondary and higher education attainment levels. The labor dimension is measured by women’s participation in the work force. Source: The United Nations Human Development Reports provide data and statistical analysis in various areas of human development. The Human Development Report (HDR) presents two types of statistics: the human development indicator tables, which provide a global assessment of country achievements in different areas of human development, and thematic statistical analysis. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

    17 Military data is drawn from the National Material Capabilities (v4.0) dataset, which is a component of and hosted by the Correlates of War Project. The Correlates of War Project seeks to facilitate the collection, dissemination, and use of accurate and reliable quantitative data in international relations. Correlates of War data may be accessed through the above link. Used with permission.

    18 The article by Brian Grim and Roger Finke describes the coding of the U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom reports. The 2003, 2005, and 2008 reports were coded by researchers at the Association of Religion Data Archives. The GRI, GFI and SRI values reported on the National Profiles are averages from the 2003, 2005, and 2008 International Religious Freedom reports, while the Religious Persecution measure is an average from the 2005 and 2008 reports. All other measures derived from the International Religious Freedom reports were coded from the reports 2008. A data file with all of the 2008 coding, as well as data files with other cross national collections are available for preview and download from the data archive on this site. Used with permission.

    19 The Cingranelli-Richards (CIRI) Human Rights Dataset contains standards-based quantitative information on government respect for 15 internationally recognized human rights for 202 countries, annually from 1981-2011. It is designed for use by scholars and students who seek to test theories about the causes and consequences of human rights violations, as well as policy makers and analysts who seek to estimate the human rights effects of a wide variety of institutional changes and public policies including democratization, economic aid, military aid, structural adjustment, and humanitarian intervention. The full CIRI Human Rights Dataset can be accessed through the above link. Used with permission.

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