There are thousands of religions and religious rituals that are practiced around the world. It is however important to note that there are those religions that are practiced universally and those that are practiced only in certain parts of the world. Christianity is one religion that is widely practiced in the world followed by Islam. Nevertheless, there are other religions that have sizeable following and they include Buddhism, Shamanism, Daoism among very others. North and South Korea are two different nations but they have similar political, social as well as economical landscape. This is also applies to religion. The two nations have similar religious grouping and practices.
Religion in Korea dates back to the 16th century when people practiced traditional rituals and offering sacrifices as a way to thank and appease the gods. With time this changed and people adapted to a more modern way of worshiping. According to CS, the oldest religion to be practices in Korea is the Shamanism (CS, 2010). The followers of this religion were referred to as the Shamans. In this religion people used to believe in ancient gods and they believed that the gods lived in trees, caves, stones and other objects. The majority of the followers of this religion were female because it was believed that women were the ones who were in serious need of divine intervention since they are the ones who were mainly possessed by evil spirits.
There were many rituals that were performed by the followers of this religion and with time it was group as a cult rather than a religious gathering. In addition to that scholars and historians viewed this religion more of a medicine religion that a religion that is out to preach the Biblical morals and virtues. It is however important to note that this ancient religion faded at the beginning of the 17th century when the two nations started to experience civilization. Currently, this religion has been made part of the ancient religious history and it is taught in all learning institutions.
Apart from Shamanism, another ancient religion that helped to shape the religious setting and beliefs in ancient Korea is the Shinkyo belief (Whang-Kim, 2002). The concept behind this religion is different as compared to that Shamanism religion; as indicated in the previous chapter, the Shamanism was characterized by rituals and other weird practices; this was not the same approach that was used by the followers of the Shinkyo belief. Just like the modern day religious groups, the followers of Shinkyo believed that the world was created naturally and also that mankind was guided and protected by a supernatural power (God). On the other hand, they believed in immortality and that once a person passed on he/she did not go to heaven or hell but lived with us as a supernatural spirit (Whang-Kim, 2002).
They also believed in the power of the sun, they believed that ghosts roam when there is darkness but when they sun shines there is peace, harmony and security. The group also had a priest who was viewed to be pure and holy and his main purpose was to ensure that the activities of the church are in order and also he was charged with the responsibility of conducting exorcism to those who were possessed. There are some immortal creatures that the Shankyo followers held close to their hearts, for instance, the Han race respected the sun and all that it provided for the community because it was the “dwelling” place of god. As a result, they gave the sun various names as a sign of respect and fear.
To some they referred to it as Hanannim or Mighty God in Heaven and also they referred to it as Han Earl of Heavenly Soul. From the research conducted, it is clear that the Shamanism was practiced before the Shankyo religion took over, this is because of the difference between the two religions. It is the Shankyo religion that gave way to modern day religions that are practiced in Korea. Currently Christianity and Buddhism are the religions that have most followers.