What is the situation with Buddhism in North Korea? Despite popular myth religious freedom is an integral part of the constitution of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, with it controooled by the government entity that is the Korean Buddhist Federation.
How does religion work in North Korea?
We won’t go into a whole rant about this, as we have another article for it, but religion in North Korea is run by patriotic movements governed by the state. The reason for this can argued in many directions, but essentially North Korea is a socialist state, so ergo everything goes via the state.
To read about religion in North Korea click here.
When it comes to religious freedom though it should be noted that generally speaking those of faith cannot join the Workers Party of Korea, although they can join the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland and there is even a political party representing the Chondoist faith.
To read about the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland
The Korean Buddhist Federation
The Korea Buddhist Federation, also called the Chosôn Buddhist Federation was founded in 1946 with the aim of uniting Buddhists in North Korea towards a united communist front. The organisation would fall under the auspices of the government and in theory harmony would prevail.
Its official aims were and are I quote
“to uphold the North Korean constitution, eliminate vestiges of Japanese imperialism, assist the army, build friendship with the Soviet Union and other socialist states, work for reunification and “foster the spirit of the working class among Buddhists for the prosperity of the father land and the development of its culture”.
A bit of Buddhism with socialist characteristics and yet while this might seem strange, it is also how things work in China, which you can read about here. The essential idea in socialist states being that everything, even religion needs to put the state first and foremost.
Buddhism in North Korea
How many buddhists are there in North Korea? According to official statistics there are 70,000 Buddhists in the DPRK, with most being women. There are around 60 active temples, a few of which, such as the one at Mt Myohang can be visited on tours.
I have personally met Buddhist monks in North Korea and can confirm their existence and that they do practice the religion, despite what mainstream media may present as truth.
And that is how Buddhism in North Korea works, you can read a piece I wrote about Christmas in North Korea here.
Better still why not join one of our fabulous North Korean Tours, which you can check out here.