Koreans are tolerant and accepting of spiritual differences. Korea's traditional religions, Buddhism, Confucianism and Chondogyoism, have played an important role in shaping their moral code.

Buddhism has the largest following of all Korean religions. As of 1991, there were 26 Buddhist sects and 9231 temples with more than 11 million followers. Buddhism originated in India and travelled to Korea via China in the fourth century AD.

Christianity arrived in Korea in the early 17th century when the works of Matteo Ricci, a Catholic missionary in China, were brought from Peking. In 1984, Pope John Paul II paid a visit to the Roman Catholic Church in Korea to help celebrate its bicentennial. The Pope canonized 93 Koreans and 10 French missionary martyrs. It was the first time that a canonization ceremony had been held outside the Vatican. This gave Korea the fourth largest number of Catholic saints in the world.
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According to Korean mythology, Tan-gun, half-human, half-divine and the king of sandalwood, is the ancestor of all Koreans because he became the first king of the people of the Korean peninsula.

Confucius was a Chinese sage who lived as a wandering teacher during the sixth century BC. He instituted an ethical-moral system to govern relationships within the family and the state. He taught obedience to parents and reverence for ancestors. Emphasis was placed on decorum, rites and ceremony. Scholarship was regarded as prerequisite for those in governing or official positions. The most important elements of Confucianism in Korea are systems of education, ceremony and civil administration. The deeply ingrained Confucian mode of manners and social relations is still a major factor in the way Koreans think and act. Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul is the country+s centre of Confucianism and the site of a shrine to Confucius.

A small percentage of Koreans practise variations of traditional religions such as Shamanism, Taoism and Chondogyoism.