Korea is a large peninsula jutting into the Yellow Sea from the Asian mainland. Buddhism was introduced into the area from China during the 4th century and went on to become a major influence on Korean life, although it was persecuted after 1170 and disestablished in the 15th
century in favour of Confucianism. By the 19th century, Buddhism’s presence was minimal and further weakened by the Japanese colonial administration’s efforts to destroy it by forcing monks and nuns to marry. Since the 1950’s all religions have been completely destroyed in
communist North Korea and Buddhism in the south has been severely depleted by conversion to Christianity. It is only in recent years that Korean Buddhism has become better organized, more vigorous, more socially involved and recovering some of its former strength.
Bsm. was introduced from China between A.D. 350–370. and by about A.D. 500 had become the state religion. Under its influence Korea attained a high state of prosperity and culture. Confucianism became state religion under new dynasty about A.D. 1500.
Revival of Bsm. started about fifty years ago. The Bsm. of Korea is a blend of several M. Schools, but Rinzai Zen has long predominated. Korean art is largely Chinese, but a special Korean quality was added to the styles passed on to Japan. Thus, much of Nara Bst. art is Korean, perhaps wrought by Korean craftsmen.
The Buddhist Association of Korea is hard at work rebuilding temples destroyed in the last war, and the Government of South Korea gives generous assistance.
Buddhist Culture in Korea, Chun Shin-Yong, 1974.