The influence of Christianity today cannot be gainsaid and is rated as the most popular religion in the world today. The spread of Christianity started of in the early 1st century and its spread gained much speed when traders and merchants including explorers and missionaries played a very crucial role in spreading it. The initial spread of Christianity encountered very many challenges especially in areas where other religions were thriving. For example, in many areas of Asia Buddhism was the major religion and the penetration of the new religion was not easy.

Christianity in South Korea
Christianity in South Korea had a difficult beginning because of the deep roots of other Korean religions such as Korean Shamanism, Buddhism, and Confucianism which were practiced for many years before Christianity was introduced. Christianity came in to existence in South Korea around 1784 when the first was erected in the area and Protestantism was introduced much later in 1884. The growth of both Catholism and Protestantism had been slow until the twentieth century (Andrew: 72). After the Korean War which took place between the year 1950 and 1953 a large number of the Korean Christians moved to the North but they later on fled to the South and by 1960 it is believed that the number of Protestants in South Korea was only one million. But after the conversion boom which ended in 1980 the number of Christians increased enormously than any other country in the world. It is believed that at present time the percentage of Christians and Buddhists in South Korea stands at 26 percent of the total population. Other sources claim that the percentage of Christians in the country is 49 percent (Andrew: 81).

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In 2005 a survey carried out shows that 18% of the South Korean population professes to be Protestants and 10% confess to Roman Catholicism. This is the second highest percentage in Asia. The survey also shows that South Koreans are very active in their religion with Seoul which is the countrys capital city containing eleven of the worlds largest Christian congregations. It is also the of Christian missionaries (Michael: 20).

Early history of South Korea
Konishi Yukinaga is believed to be the first . He was a commander during the Japanese invasion on Korea in the year 1590. After the invasion he married a Korean girl named Julia Ota-a and took her back to Japan she later became one of the first Korean Christians. In the year 1593 Father Gregorious de Cespedes who was a priest visited Korea with the intention of spreading the Gospel but he was not permitted and in the subsequent years Koreans who tried to spread the Gospel faced hardships and persecution. Both persecutions and hardship played a crucial role in the spread of Christianity in the country. Protestantism was introduced to South Korea by Henry Appenzeller and Horace Underwood in the year 1784 (Andrew: 120).

Factors encouraging Christianity in South Korea
One of the factors affecting Christianity in South Korea is academic sympathy, South Korea Scholars have always been about Christianity, thus shunning away from criticizing it. When Christianity was introduced in South Korea Silhak scholars adopted it and thought it as an Ideological basis for their beliefs, this made it easy for it to spread around the country because a substantial number of the educated citizens had a sympathetic opinion to it. This greatly facilitated its growth. Another Factor that played a crucial role is that during the Japanese invasion Christianity was linked with a patriotic role by South Koreans. This is because the South Koreans refused to worship the Japanese Emperor which was a requirement of the law in the 1930s. The resistances by Korean Christians, made the other citizens believe that Christianity was a sign of nationalism and resistance to the Japanese (Andrew: 52).

.Christianity in Japan
Christianity in Japan was introduced in the year 1542 by Portuguese traders who landed in Western Japan with the main aim of trading with the Japanese. On their mission they were able to convince the Japanese to adopt Christianity; they converted a large number of Japanese to Christianity including the members of the ruling class (Francis: 72). Towards the end of the 16th century a ban was issued on the spread of Christianity with a serious ban following in the year 1597. More than twenty six Christians were executed in the same year, with more persecutions occurring in subsequent years that followed. In the year 1638 there was a complete extinction of Christians in Japan this was because the government at that time wanted to have absolute control of its citizens and thought that it was not possible with the existence of a powerful foreign religion like Christianity in the country. It took the initiative of abolishing Christianity completely (Nikolai: 21).

In 1873 the freedom of religion in the country was accepted, and since the end of world war two the number Of Japanese Christians has been slowly increasing. Today approximately one to two million Japanese population is made up of Christians; that is about one percent of the whole Japanese population. Most of them are found in Western Japan where Christianity was introduced. Japanese Christians practice Christian customs such as at weddings, on Valentines Day and on Christmas (Francis: 34).

Similarities between Christianity in Japan and South Korea
In both Countries the spread of Christianity was characterized by persecution of members who tried to adopt the religion. Also in both countries the number of followers has been increasing since the end of the Second World War. The last similarity is that in both countries there is the existence of both Catholics and Protestants faithful. Catholics arrived first and were later followed by the Protestants in both the two (Andrew: 115).

Differences between Christianity in Japan and South Korea
In Japan Christianity began much earlier as compared to South Korea. In Japan it arrived in the year 1542 while in South Korea it arrived much later in the year 1784. Though it was introduced much earlier in Japan its adoption in South Korea is much faster and aggressive as compared to Japan today twenty nine percent of South Korean population is made up of Christians while in Japan only one percent of the Japanese population are Christians (Michael: 92).

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