Islam in Korea, past and present

There are now 15 mosques nationwide, with about 200,000 Muslims, including ethnic Koreans.

Korea and the Middle East may look like they have nothing in common.

On the surface, the two regions do not seem to have crossed paths as they have totally different economies, cultures and ideals. Above all, religion may be what divides the two. While the religious heritage of Korea derives mostly from Buddhism, Confucianism and more recently Christianity, the Middle East is deeply rooted in the Islamic teachings of Prophet Muhammad.

Yet, scholars say the two sides’ cross-cultural relations date back to the seventh century ― the era of the Kingdom of Unified Silla in Korea and, in the Middle East, the Islamic Golden Age. This was when the Muslim world spanned from the Philippines in the East to the Iberian Peninsula in the West.

“Korea’s first encounter with Islam was purely commercial,” said Lee Hee-soo, Korea’s leading scholar of Islam culture, and professor at Hanyang University’s Department of Cultural Anthropology.

Muslim merchants and traders traveled via the Silk Road to China’s Tang-era capital of Changan, today’s Xian, with which the Unified Silla had close political and business ties, the scholar explained.

Commercial relations between the two eventually expanded into culture, arts, science and technology with both sides depicting each other in their poems and songs…

  • Horse pucky.

    It is claimed that any recoded contact occurred in the ninth century and clearly did not take. At this time, Buddhism was the dominant religion.

    • Minicapt

      … when the Mohammedans were still busy settling into North America.


      • But of course.

        I suspect this puff piece was written because South Korean businesses are catering to Arab businessmen.

        That will be regretted.

  • tom_billesley

    How’s the Da’wah going north of the DMZ?

  • tom_billesley

    ” … when the Muslim world spanned from the Philippines in the East to the Iberian Peninsula in the West …”
    Oh yeah? The first sultanate on Mindanao in the Philippines wasn’t founded until the 16th century, long after the Reconquista had kicked mahometanism out of Spain.

  • Porky The Crusader

    muslims had many contacts with the penguin of antartica around the 4th century. At first it was for trade (prayer carpet, camel piss etc…) and after a while it was mostly for Sex, it’s well documented by muslims historians.

    • RonW

      Wow! Islam started in Antarctica? Then Mo was only faking his fake ‘holy book’! It was actually revealed to the seals. Which explains why it stinks to high heaven.

      • Porky The Crusader

        Yes and more after that only few years later they discovered America and beheaded or converts all Indian.It’s well documented either.