2021-07-29 11:42
Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea 2020

Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea 2020


On April 1, 2021, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea (President: Most Rev. Matthias Ri Iong-hoon) published the Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea 2020

Based on compiled data from 15 dioceses and the Military Ordinariate in Korea, 7 Catholic universities, and roughly 169 religious institutes of men and women in Korea, the Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea 2020 presents annual statistics for the Catholic Church as of December 31, 2020. These statistics aim to help in better understanding the present situation of the Catholic Church in Korea and provide a useful point of reference for future pastoral planning.

The following is a summary of the main statistical results:

According to the Statistics, the number of Catholics in Korea is 5,923,300, an increase of 0.1% (8,631) over the previous year. The Catholic population amounts to 11.2% of the total Korean population, which is 52,974,563. 

Statistics by gender: male Catholics numbered 2,534,989 and female 3,388,311, respectively 42.8% and 57.2% of Catholics in Korea. Compared to the previous year, in the 20-29 age bracket the ratio of male faithful was higher than that of female, but the percentage of female faithful was higher for the over 30s age groups.

Statistics by age: the number of faithful in their 50s accounted for 1,055,414 or 17.8% of the total number of Catholics in Korea (a decrease of 14,707 or 1.4% over the previous year). This group makes up the largest of all age groups. People in their 60s accounted for 975,722 or 16.5% (an increase of 59,990 or 6.1% over the previous year), and those aged 40-49 represented 936,784 or 15.8% (a decrease of 3,986 or 0.4% over the previous year). The number of young Catholics aged 10-19 accounted for 325,571 or 5.5% (a decrease of 21,313 or 6.5% over the previous year). Those over 65 years of age accounted for 1,302,590 or 22% of the total, which marked an increase of 7.6% over the previous year. 

Regarding the number of Catholics based on location, of the 15 dioceses, the Archdiocese of Seoul is the most populous with 1,534,019 or 25.9% of the total number of Catholics. The Archdiocese of Seoul is followed by the Diocese of Suwon (931,995 or 15.7%), the Diocese of Incheon (522,320 or 8.8%), the Archdiocese of Daegu (511,901 or 8.6%), the Diocese of Busan (459,640 or 7.8%), the Archdiocese of Gwangju (365,528 or 6.2%), the Diocese of Daejeon (335,972 or 5.7%), and the Diocese of Uijeongbu (318,050 or 5.4%). The number of the Catholics in Seoul and the surrounding urban areas (Suwon, Uijeongbu, and Incheon), amounts to 3,306,384 or 55.8% of the total Catholic population of Korea. 

In relation to the total local population the percentage of Catholics is: the Archdiocese of Seoul has the  highest rate with 15.4%, followed by the Diocese of Jeju (12.2%), the Diocese of Incheon (11.9%), the Diocese of Cheongju (11.7%), and the Archdiocese of Daegu (11.5%). 

The total number of parishes in December 2020 was 1,767 and the number of secondary stations was 704: an increase of 11 parishes and a decrease in secondary stations of 5 over the previous year.

The Statistics for 2020 indicates that the number of clergy in Korea totaled 5,578; this was made-up of 40 bishops (including 2 Cardinals), 5,382 Korean priests, and 156 foreign missionary priests. Among the priests, 4,582 were diocesan priests, 809 religious priests, and 147 missionary priests. The number of seminarians was 1,181, a decrease of 28 or 2.3% over the previous year.

There were 1,626 men religious, and 10,152 women religious excluding novices. The total number of men and women novices was 335.

According to the Statistics, the number of newly baptized in 2020 was 30,285. This indicates a decrease of 50,754 or 62.6% from the previous year. By gender, there were 15,104 newly baptized males and 15,181 females: compared to the previous year, there was a dramatic decrease of 65% in male baptisms (28,080) and a significant decrease of 59.9% (22,674) in female baptisms. The number of children baptized amounted to 5,862 or 19.4% of the total number of baptisms, adult baptisms amounted to 21,453 or 70.8%, and baptisms of those in danger of death numbered 2,970 or 9.8%.

In 2020, the Sacrament of Matrimony was celebrated on 7,915 occasions, indicating a sharp decrease of 5,963 from the previous year. Of this number, 4,633 cases were marriages involving a dispensation. 

Regarding other Sacraments, 8,561 people received First Communion, 1,718,523 received the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and 15,945 received the Sacrament of Confirmation.

For reference, the number of Sunday Mass attendees in 2020 is not denoted in the Statistics. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 at the beginning of 2020, in line with government guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID, Sunday Masses were suspended or, if celebrated, the number of attendees was restricted. Moreover, as the situations in parishes varied greatly, even in the same diocese, it was not possible to gather and calculate statistical data under the same conditions.