What’s The Main Religion In North Korea

What’s The Main Religion In North Korea?

North Korea is a traditionally monotheistic state embodying the strong belief in the one true God, symbolized through the Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-Un. The Korean people are spiritually bonded through their shared culture and language, as well as their faith in the powers of the divine, a deep-seated legacy of Confucianism. In North Korea, the Kim dynasty, declared to be the epitome of spiritual leadership, is believed to be simultaneously God-like and human. Thus, the official religion of North Korea is a hybrid of Confucianism, Buddhism and Christianity, with a focus on Confucianism.

According to Confucianism, all human relationships should revolve around the principles of loyalty, filial piety and reciprocity, which constitute the foundation of North Korean society and the main source of power for the Kim dynasty. Faith in the divine is also expressed in devotion to Mount Paektu, regarded by Koreans as the ancestral home of the Korean race, and Ch’an-pyong, the ideological alter-ego of the Kim dynasty. As for Buddhism, it has provided a tradition of ethical behavior and comfort in times of hardship.

Although Christianity has never been given official recognition, a small number of Christians still practice their faith in North Korea. Therefore, North Korea’s de facto religion is an interesting combination of the country’s three main religions, complemented by traditional customs and rituals related to ancestor worship, shamanism and folk beliefs. This may explain why North Korea is considered to be the most oppressive, repressive country in the world, as the ruling authorities use the country’s belief system to bolster their power and control.

At the same time, it is important to note that the official position of the North Korean government is that religion is not allowed. Since the late 1980s, there has been a steady decline in the number of North Koreans who express any religious belief. This is due in part to the fact that the North Korean government has imposed strict censorship on almost all forms of religious expression. Everything from church services, public prayer and sermons to private religious study sessions is heavily monitored and controlled.

Despite official religious intolerance, many North Koreans still adhere to the traditional spiritual values of their ancestors. They may not be able to express these beliefs openly, but they often practice their faith in private, believing that it is their duty to pay homage to their ancestors and to their God. Although organized religion is not allowed in North Korea, it is clear that the traditional beliefs of the Korean people remain a powerful force in the life of the nation.

Role Of The Kim Dynasty

The role of the Kim dynasty in North Korean society cannot be overlooked. In the eyes of many, the Kim dynasty is seen as the representative of God in North Korea, occupying the apex of the spiritual hierarchy. It is believed that the Kim family’s unique leadership and protection is necessary for the nation’s prosperity, progress and peace. This is the key reason why most North Koreans are deeply devoted to the Kim family, which is seen as a living embodiment of spiritual perfection.

The degree of devotion to the Kim dynasty is such that many North Koreans refer to it as the “religion”. It is also often seen as the psychological linchpin keeping North Koreans glued together, with its repressive control over thought and behavior serving as a powerful force to keep citizens in line. The Kim dynasty is also seen as the ultimate source of guidance and knowledge in North Korea, the living embodiment of Divine truth.

What is clear is that the Kim dynasty is deeply intertwined with religious beliefs and values in North Korea, with the leadership’s authority and stature often treated as sacred and upheld in the highest regard. Moreover, the government’s official position on religion is also an integral part of the country’s system of control, as it is used as an effective tool for preventing any threat to their authority.

Censorship and Control of Religion

North Korea practices a degree of religious censorship and control that has few if any equivalents in the world. Religion is seen by the government as a potential source of opposition to the Kim dynasty, and is therefore heavily regulated and prohibited. Bible studies, services in churches and ceremonies are all meticulously recorded, controlled and monitored by the authorities, along with private religious study sessions.

The regime’s control over religion extends beyond the physical, with North Korean citizens facing severe punishment if they are found to be carrying religious materials or engaging in any kind of religious practice that is not sanctioned by the regime. State surveillance and censorship are also employed to make sure that any kind of religious expression outside of the official channels is suppressed and punished.

To make matters worse, there is also an active effort to eradicate belief in anything other than the official ideology, which places the Kim dynasty at the pinnacle of spiritual leadership. This is done in various ways, from disseminating propaganda that portrays religion as a form of superstition, to instituting policies and laws that prohibit religious expression.

State Propaganda and The Cult of Personality

The government of North Korea also attempts to control the minds of its citizens through the use of propaganda and a cult of personality. This includes the publication of books and pamphlets promoting the Kim dynasty and its ideology, as a way of reinforcing its authority and promoting loyalty among North Koreans. The North Korean regime also heavily promotes the importance of working hard and sacrificing for the nation and its leader. State-run media portrays the Kim dynasty as the living embodiment of divine truth, and as a source of strength and protection for the nation.

The government of North Korea also uses its formidable political power to actively discourage any kind of religious expression that is not deemed to be in the spirit of the official ideology. This includes the closure of churches and monastic facilities, the persecution of religious leaders and believers, and the censorship of publications and broadcasts with any religiously-related content. It is also not uncommon for North Koreans to be sent to labor camps or prison for engaging in religious activities.

The cult of personality that has developed around the Kim dynasty has proven to be a powerful tool in reinforcing the government’s hold over its citizens. It has also helped to shape the nation’s identity and strengthen its ties to the Kim dynasty, creating a sense of national unity and loyalty to the leader and his policies.

Impact on North Korean Society

The combination of Confucianism, Buddhism and Christianity, along with the Kim dynasty’s cult of personality and tight control over religious expression has had a profound effect on North Korean society, especially on its citizens’ spiritual beliefs and values. The country’s leadership has been able to use its control over religion to shape public opinion and reinforce its authority and power.

The Kim dynasty’s grip on power is such that any kind of religious expression that deviates from the official ideology is heavily discouraged and persecuted. This has given rise to a climate of fear and intimidation, with North Koreans feeling that they have to comply with the regime’s dictates or risk arrest, imprisonment and even execution.

Moreover, the state’s tight grip on religion has also served to stifle the creative spirit of North Koreans and has prevented the development of a vibrant, diverse civil society. Without the ability to practice their faith openly and without fear, North Koreans have been denied a crucial element of spiritual and personal freedom.


It is clear that North Korea is a country that adheres to a certain type of faith, although this faith is tightly controlled and censored by the authorities. The Kim Dynasty is the focal point of this faith, and its hold on the nation is reinforced through a cult of personality, propaganda and state censorship. As a result, religion in North Korea has evolved into something of a hybrid between the country’s three main faiths, complemented by traditional customs, ancestor worship and other beliefs. Despite the official stance on religion, the spiritual values of the Korean people still remain deeply rooted in the nation’s culture and ethos.

Cassie Grissom is an American journalist and author living in Seoul, South Korea. She has been studying the Korean peninsula since 2011, and her work focuses on understanding human rights issues in North Korea. In addition to her work as an author, Cassie is an active advocate for human rights in North Korea. She regularly shares stories about life in North Korea with international audiences to raise awareness of the plight of its citizens.

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