May 22, 2022

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Why are so few North Korean defectors Buddhist?

Protestants outnumber Buddhists among defectors, even though both religions are about equally represented in South Korea

Defectors in South Korea are overwhelmingly Protestants, even though Buddhism has about as many followers in the country.

Buddhism is one of South Korea’s oldest religions, with over 16% of the population identifying as Buddhist. But only a small fraction of North Korean defectors in the South identify as such – about 10%, according to 2019 survey data by the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB).