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Expat Living is a section dedicated to

the daily living of expatriates. It is printed
on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.
To share stories about your life abroad,
send stories or story ideas to Matthew
Lamers at
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Islam in Korea
This is the fifth in a series looking into religion in names for the other prayers too. He said there is a
Korea from a community perspective. The first ob- social purpose to gathering at the Busan mosque on
jective is to give expatriates a springboard from Fridays.
which to develop spiritually. Feature articles will “The Friday prayer is to unite the people. After
have examined Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, the prayer they can unite to make a better commu-
Judaism, Islam and Sikhism. — Ed. nity. ... They can talk and they can listen. For ex-
ample, if someone is sick, they can arrange to go to
By Regina Walton the hospital — or, if they find out that someone
needs help, they can arrange to help.”
When people think of Korea and religion, most He explained that both men and women have
assume it’s a land of only Buddhists temples and these meetings. Their prayer rooms, as well as the
Confucian values. However, as the other articles in subsequent meetings, are separate. When asked to
this series have shown, other religions are very ac- describe the people who come to the mosque to pray
tive here. he said, “(W)e have a few Koreans. We have
Some might be surprised to hear that Islam is Indonesians, Malaysians and Uzbeks. We have peo-
present and actively practiced here. One reason is ple from the United States. We have people from 12
because of the frequent confusion of the terms to 14 countries.”
“Muslim” versus “Arab.” Muslim refers to anyone Why did he become so active in the Muslim com-
who practices Islam. Muslims can be from any munity?
number of nations or regions like Turkey, Iran, “I’m a Muslim. This is our religion. Wherever we
Iraq, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, as well go, we have to practice our religion. When I came to
as countries in Europe, Africa and the Americas. In Korea, they didn’t have a lot of mosques in Korea.
contrast, Arab is a term that refers to people from Now we have a lot of mosques in Korea. At first, I
the Arabian peninsula and who speak the Arabic was in Seoul and people got together at the Itaewon
language. mosque. Then I moved to Busan for work and now
However, someone who is Arab is not necessarily I worship in a mosque in Busan.”
a Muslim. This also applies to Muslim schools.
Historically, Muslims and Koreans have been in “We’re trying to open a small school in Busan.
contact for hundreds of years. This contact came ... (For) people who are married ... they have
through China and via trade. But an active Korean kids to raise and they have to teach them a
Muslim community started developing in South Muslim education. We have schools in Daegu
Korea after the Korean War, due to the presence of and Seoul.”
Turkish troops who had fought in the war and their In addition, for those who are curious about
presence in the United Nations forces after the Islam, Haseeb said that they have services and re-
armistice. sources for people who want to learn more.
Since then, the Korean Muslim community has “Yes, they can come to the mosque. We have —
slowly grown. the head of the mosque, an Imam (the Muslim
Originally, this piece was supposed to appear equivalent of a priest) in the mosque. If they want
earlier in the series but my interviewee, Haseeb some information we have a library in the mosque.
Ahmad Khan, had to travel for a bit of time. He “They can get these things for free.”
and I touched base earlier this month. Here is In their library, they have reading materials and
what he had to say about Islam not only in Busan, audio materials that people can borrow and use.
where he lives, but in all of South Korea. Haseeb was very eager to explain that the
Haseeb is originally from Pakistan, but has lived Muslim community is very active in helping those
in South Korea for almost 10 years. He is married seeking information on where to worship. “We have
to a Korean national and has an export business lo- a system where people can ask for a mosque and
cated in Busan. Haseeb started off the interview by anyone can tell you where the mosque is. We also
explaining that people who practice Islam have to have a website for the Busan mosque.”
pray five times a day. On this site people can find information on Islam
In most cases, he explains that, “They offer their in Busan.
prayers in their offices or their workplaces,” be- “The mosque in Busan is near Dushil Station.”
cause it is too difficult for them to come to the Mosques are now in various locations throughout
mosque. However, he added that if they are close the country. “We have more than 10 mosques in
enough, the mosque is where they ought to pray. cities like Gwangju, Busan, Daegu.”
Those who cannot, observe their prayers at work.
He added that: “On Friday we get together in the
mosque.” Regina can be reached through her blog expat-
“Jummah is the Friday prayer,” and there are — Ed.

Resources on the Web

Islamic Center of Daejeon KAIST Muslim Students’ Association
Korea Muslim Federation Islam and Muslims
in South Korea
Korea Islamic Research Association
Harvard Asia Quarterly

Mosques in Korea
Seoul Jungang Temple (Seoul Central Temple) Busan Al pata Temple
Hannam 2 dong 732-21, Yongsan gu, Seoul Namsan dong 30-1, Geumjung gu, Busan
Tel: (02) 793-6908, 794-7303 Tel: (051) 518-9991, (051) 518-9992
Fax: (02) 798-9782
Jeju Islam Jung-ang Temple
Gwangju Temple Yun dong 1399 Daerim Apartmet 104-201, Jeju si
Gwangju yeup Yukri 48-9, Gwangju goon, Gyeonggi 064-712-1215
Province 011-693-3932 (Basire Kim)
Tel: (031) 761-3424 E-mail: (Pr. Bashir Kim, Korea
Muslim Federation Representative)
Anyang La vita Temple
Anyang 5 dong 618-132, Anyang si, Gyeonggi Jamia Masjid Woosman Islam Center
Province Dalsu gu Jukjun dong 202-6, Daegu
Tel: 031) 442-9078 Tel: (053) 523-2171

Jeonju Ave-barke Al-sidik Temple Gwangju Temple

Deokjin gu Inhoo dong 2, 1562-10, Jeonju si, Jeonbuk Wul-kye dong 894-7 second floor, Gwangju
Province E-mail:
Tel: (063) 243-1483 Tel: (062) 972-5136
Photo by Matthew Lamers