Freedom of religion in South Korea

Freedom of religion in South Korea is provided for in the South Korean constitution. The South Korean government has generally respected this right in practice, although it provides no exemption or alternative civilian service for those who have a religious objection to serve in the armed forces.[1]

Laws guaranteeing the right to freedom of religion

Constitutional laws

Freedom of religion for all citizens and the separation of the state and religious organizations is guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Korea, article 20. 

(1) All citizens shall enjoy freedom of religion. 

(2) No state religion shall be recognized, and religion and state shall be separated. 

Moreover, any discrimination based on a citizen's religious belief is strictly forbidden by the Article 11 :

(1) All citizens shall be equal before the law, and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic, social, or cultural life on account of sex, religion, or social status. 

International laws and treaties

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

The Republic of Korea is member party to UN multilateral treaty International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which provides that every individual has the right and freedom to adopt a religion or belief of his/ her choice and to manifest his/ her religion or belief either individually or in community with others, either in public or private (article 18), every individual has the right to be free from discrimination based on religious belief (Article 2) and this right is irrevocable even in conditions of emergency which threatens the life of the nation (Article 4). The government has the duty to guarantee all individuals equal and effective protection against religious discrimination (Article 26).  

Individuals have also the freedom to profess non-theistic and atheistic beliefs as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief. The terms belief and religion are to be broadly construed. (UN Human Rights Committee, General comment 22, 30 July 1993)