South Korean Church in numeric decline, especially post-Covid

By March 17, 2023
South Korea

South Korea (MNN) — The landscape of Christianity and missions in South Korea is changing, and not necessarily for the better.

 On a podcast with The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) Canada, VOM Korea’s Eric Foley explained, “Since 1989, the Church has been in numeric decline every year in South Korea.

“Christians think of South Korea and they say, ‘Wow, 10 of the 11 largest churches in the world! Sending out more missionaries than anybody!’ True, true. However…during Covid, those missionaries were called back in large numbers.”

Post-Covid in South Korea, Foley said, “We saw upwards of 15 percent of churches closing or at risk of closure still in the near future.”

A satellite image contrasts South Korea at night with North Korea. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Gospel missions to North Korea have also been slapped with red tape. In 2020, South Korea banned balloon launches of so-called “propaganda materials” into North Korea. This included Gospel tracts.

Then, in March 2021, Foley said, “Any movement of what is considered anti-North Korean material northward across the border — including via the internet — became a criminal activity. Only radio was excluded from that.

“What that means is it’s not only Russia and China blocking the influx of Bibles and Christian literature into North Korea. There is now…no legal means to bring Bibles and Christian literature into North Korea from any direction.”

So what is VOM Korea still able to do in South Korea to reach North Koreans for Christ?

“We never comment publicly on our field activities in terms of the specific details,” Foley said. “The Voice of the Martyrs continues to get Bibles into North Korea through a wide variety of means and we joyfully and willingly pay the price that we have to pay personally in each of the countries that we do that.”

A paradox of Christianity is this: Wherever believers endure hardship or pressure, the Church is pruned and refined — and the Gospel spreads.

Myeongdong shopping district, Seoul, South Korea. (Photo courtesy of Cait Ellis via Unsplash)

Pray for a profound spread of the Gospel in South Korea that ignites deeper passion for Christ. Ask the Lord to foster creativity in ministry to overcome these new challenges.

To learn more about VOM Korea, click here!







Header photo courtesy of Daniel Bernard via Unsplash.

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