Three religions have influenced Korean culture over the centuries: spirit worship, Buddhism and Confucianism. Christianity is growing strongly in South Korea where around 30 per cent of people now follow it. In the communist state of North Korea, all religion is banned (Guile, 2003, p. 7). Buddhism is an ancient religion that originally came from India. It spread through china and Korea and eventually came to Japan in the 6th century. Japanese people believe in the ancestors worship and have Buddhist funerals when they die (Kalman, 2002, p.15).
Japanese people dress in the latest styles and seem to have everything modern. It is a quite world influenced by a love of nature, beauty, art and ritual. (Kalman, 2002, p. 5). In traditional Korea, women took responsibility for the home, the children and household accounts, but men made key decisions. Under confusion law, women did not go to school or take paid work, and had to obey their husbands and elder sons. Ancestors – worship rituals were performed only by males, and sons cared for their parents in old age, so girl babies were often unwanted and abandoned at birth. (Guile, 2003, p. 10).
The Japanese say that a tree has two lives; one while it is growing and another when it has been made into a useful object. Instead of being painted, walls and floors are stained or vanished to preserve wood’s natural qualities. Wherever there is space, people make a garden. Rocks represent mountains, a pond stands for an ocean, trees symbolize a forest, and a running stream of water reminds people of a river (Kalman, 2002, p. 7). Since North Korea became a separate communist country in 1945, it has locked itself away from the rest of the world. Virtually no-one is allowed in or out, but some have escaped over the Chinese border to tell of the difficult daily life of people in North Korea (Guile, 2003, p. 8)