Newsletter of the District
Statistics for South Korea
as of 2000
In 1954, there
were 160,000 Catholics
In 1984, there
In May, 2000,
there were 3,946,844
show that the number of non-practicing Catholics as increasing.
At the end of 1999, non-practicing Catholic numbered 1,249,115,
which is 31.7% of all Catholics, an increase of 9.7% in relation
to the previous year which had showed 1,137,428 non-practicing.
These figures are taking from the annual statistics published by
the Bishops’ Conference of Korea, on May 30, 2000. The Bishops’
Conference qualified as ‘non-practicing’, a Catholic who has not
been to confession, either at Christmas or Easter, for three years
in a row. Church leaders must reflect on the method to use to bring
back to church these non-practicing faithful.
In South Korea,
it is mandatory for all those who have made their First Communion
to go to confession at Christmas or Easter. The system of ‘confession
cards’ enables a very precise control as well as genuine statistics.
From those of May 30, 2000, Korea has now 3,946,844 Catholics, which
means an increase of 142,750 i.e., 3.8% on the previous year. This
is slightly better than in 1998 (3.5%) but is still rather low compared
to 1991 (6.28%). The average number of faithful going to Mass on
Sunday is 1,164,630, i.e. 29.5%.
Catholics now represent 8.3% of the population, the third largest
percentage in Asia, after the Philippines and Vietnam. In the Seoul
diocese, they are 10.5% of the population. It is the highest percentage
of the 14 diocese of the whole country, the lowest being the diocese
of Kyonbuk with only 45,437 Catholics, i.e. 4.6%.
of Seoul has recently launched a campaign to raise the Catholic
population of Seoul to 18% in the next 10 years, i.e. the exact
proportion of the Catholic Church worldwide.
d’Asie, July 1, 2000, pp.6-7; Archives des M.E.P., Etudes
et Documents, no. 11, 2000, pp.68-71, Lives of the 103 Martyrs
of Korea, Seoul, 1984, p.161.