The Catholic Church in South Korea has steadily grown over the past two decades according to a study by the Catholic Pastoral Institute of Korea (CPIK) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea (CBCK). 11.1% of South Korea’s population.
The number of Catholics has increased by 48.6 per cent, from 3.9 million in 1999 to 5.8 million in 2018 and today they make up 11.1% of South Korea’s some 51 million population.
A copy of the study report sent to the Vatican’s Fides news agency shows the Diocese of Suwon leading with an increase of 89.1 per cent. It is followed by Daejeon (79.6 per cent) and Uijeongbu (78.9 per cent).
However, the year-to-year growth rate in the Catholic population has gradually slowed to below 1 per cent. In 2000-2001, the Catholic population grew 3.2 per cent and 3.9 per cent, respectively, before falling to the 2 per cent range until 2009. The growth rate dropped to 1.7 per cent in 2010 and briefly rebounded to 2.2 per cent in 2014 due to Pope Francis’ visit to South Korea. It then levelled off at around 1% per year.
As for the ratio of Catholics in the nation’s population, it rose from 8.3 per cent to 11.1 per cent in the 1999-2018 period.
Declining church attendance However, Sunday Mass attendance, considered a key indicator of faith life, has declined by about 10 points, from 29.5% to 18.3% during the past 2 decades.