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Religions and Religious Culture in Korea


Admission requirements

Student should have basic knowledge of Korean history.


The religious landscape of Korea is a unique coexistence of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Christianity mixed with elements of folk beliefs and shamanism. This course aims to inform students on how religion was manifest in the lives of the Koreans through its history up to modern times. Rather than focusing on religious tenets and doctrines, this course will adopt an interdisciplinary approach by discussing the cultural, social and historical issues of the religions of Korea. The religions discussed will include Korea’s major religions: Shamanism, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Christianity. This course will be conducted through a combination of lectures, class discussions and student presentations.

Course objectives

Students who take this course will:

  • Become familiar with the major historical and modern issues of Korean religions;

  • Be able to analyze Korean religions through an understanding of its practices and its cultural manifestations and by situating them in the societal and historical contexts;

  • Engage in a critical discussion on the topics including religious syncretism, modernization, social conflict, and East-West-East encounter.



Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

  • Student class presentations

Course Load

  • total time: 97 hours

  • attending lectures: 26 hours (2 hours/week x 13 weeks)

  • reading compulsory literature (at 7 pages per hour): 20-30 pages: 49 hours (3-4 hours/week x 14 weeks)

  • writing a paper (including reading/research): 20 hours

Assessment method

  • Mid-term exam: 30%

  • Student presentation: 20%

  • Final paper: 50%


Blackboard will be used for delivery of relevant reading materials and submission of assignments.

Reading list

Core source materials for additional reading:

  • Lancaster, Lewis R., and Richard K. Payne, eds. Religion and Society in Contemporary Korea. Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California at Berkeley, 1997.

  • Korean National Commission for UNESCO, ed. Korean Anthropology: Contemporary Korean Culture in Flux. Seoul: Hollym Corporation, 2003.

  • Buswell, Robert E. Jr., ed. Religions of Korea in Practice. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007.


Students are required to register for this course via uSis, the course registration system of Leiden University. General information about the Registration procedure

Registration Studeren à la Carte en Contractonderwijs

Registration for Studeren à la Carte
Registration for Contractonderwijs


Dr. S. Kim


Compulsory attendance.
Co-ordinator of Studies Mw. S. Kraakman