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S Korea has more Catholic lawmakers than ever

80 out of total 300 current parliamentarians are Catholics
Democratic Party (DP) leader Lee Jae-myung reacts to the election results in Seoul, South Korea on 10 April 2024.

Democratic Party (DP) leader Lee Jae-myung reacts to the election results in Seoul, South Korea on April 10 (Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/AFP)

Published: April 22, 2024 11:39 AM GMT
Updated: April 22, 2024 04:13 PM GMT

A total of 80 Catholics were elected from among the ruling and opposition parties during the recent parliamentary election in South Korea, the largest figure in the history of the East Asian nation.

Fifty-three Catholic lawmakers from the opposition Democratic Party of Korea won seats in the 22nd National Assembly election held on April 10 , while 16 came from the ruling People Power Party, and the rest from other parties including the New Reform Party.

South Korea’s unicameral parliament holds an election every four years. In 254 constituencies, elections were held via the  ‘first-past-the-post’ voting system and lawmakers in 46 seats were elected through a ‘proportional representation’ system.

Overall, Catholics now make up 27 percent of the 300-seat parliament, an increase of two percent from 25 percent in the 21st National Assembly election held four years ago.

About 50 percent of South Korea’s 31.74 million people are non-religious, according to official estimates.

Christians account for about 28 percent, Buddhists about 26 percent and the rest follow other faiths such as Confucianism. Catholics make up about 11 percent of the population.

Ahead of the legislative election, Korean bishops released the results of its survey carried out among major political parties.

The survey questionnaire covered topics such as labor, national reconciliation, social welfare, bioethics, ecology and environment, women, justice and peace, and youth, among others.

The bishops said that though the ruling and opposition parties differed on their views related to various issues covered in the survey, they expected the parliament would focus on the welfare of people by paying attention to the Church’s concerns about important social issues.

The opposition Democratic Party secured a landslide victory with 161 seats while the ruling People Power Party of President Yoon Suk Yeol won 90 seats in the April 10 election.

* This story is brought to you in partnership with the Catholic Times of Korea.

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