In the recent Catholic Times' In the Eyes of the Believer Column, the head of a research institute brings to the attention of the readers a statistic that may be true of most of the world at the present time.
Not long ago, Gallup Korea conducted a survey of 'Korean Religion' and announced the results. It was usually a 10-year religious survey, so it was scheduled to be conducted in 2024, but in the recent special situation of a sharp drop in the religious population and the Covid-19 pandemic, only a few questions were extracted to record changed perceptions. According to the results released, there may be an influence from the pandemic, but the religious status and perception of Koreans have changed a lot in the seven years since 2014.
First of all, the number of non-religious people in Korean society increased by 10% from 50% (2014) to 60% (2021). Currently, 6% of the respondents say they believe in Catholicism, which is only about half of the 11.2% (2020) of believers counted in church statistics, but the Gallup survey shows that Catholics are about 6-7%, so there seems to be no significant change. In 2015, the Korean Statistics showed that the percentage of Catholics in the population census was 7.9%, unlike what the church statistics showed, 6 to 7 people out of each hundred considered themselves Catholic in the national census.
according to the age of the respondents, only 3% of
Catholics are in their 20s. In the Gallup survey over the past 40 years,
which began in 1984, the percentage of Catholics in their 20s was
on average 5 to 6 percent until 2004, but it has halved
to 3 percent in the 2014 survey and the trend has continued.
Considering that the 2020 church statistics show that the proportion of
young people in their 20s compared to the 11.3% of the registered Catholics by the church's own figures, only one out of three to four baptized young people
in their 20s are now believers. Compared to 7.3 percent of
young believers in their 20s in the 2015 Korean Population Census, the departure of young believers in their 20s seems to have
accelerated over the past decade. Young people in their 20s who have
been baptized but disappeared, why have they grown out of the Catholic
faith and where and what are they doing now? Is the question the writer leaves with the readers.
According to the Gallup survey released this time, 78% of young people in their 20s are not interested in religion. This is true of Catholics also. It's up nearly 10% from 69% in the 2014 survey. If you look at the reasons why young non-religious people in their 20s do not currently believe in religion, 64% of them are just "not interested," which is more than 10% higher than other age groups. Back in 2014 38% of the citizens felt that religion added little to our lives and in 2021 this rose to 62%. The young people in the 20s, 70% have a negative few of religion.
Looking at the
results of the survey we see that religion does not give meaning to life for the young people in their 20s. These are crisis signals
being sent by young people in Korean society. In the first quarter of this
year's "Covid-19 National Mental Health Survey" released by the Ministry
of Health and Welfare in early May, the "depression risk group" in
their 20s and 30s was the highest at 30%, up from 22.7% a year ago. The
percentage of young people in their 20s who think of suicide was 22.5%,
the highest among all ages, up 12.4% from a year ago. There are many
people in their 20s who don't just think about it, but actually try to
commit suicide. In 2020, 4,607 women in their 20s were the highest
suicide attempts, accounting for 20.4% of all suicide attempts, while
1,788 men in their 20s were 8% of all male age groups. Statistics on the
number of suicides in 2020 have yet to be released, but some
parliamentary offices warn that the number of suicides in their 20s has
increased significantly in the past year.
Media and researchers say that more and more people feel emotional anxiety such as loneliness and depression as social disconnect and economic difficulties increase after Corona. This is especially true of the young people in their 20s who are about to enter society. How can we, as believers, share and deliver the bread of life to young people in this crisis in the face of a survey that shows that even religion doesn't mean much to young people in their 20s who feel so insecure?