The constitution and other laws state that all citizens have freedom of religion and that there shall be no discrimination in political, economic, social, or cultural life on account of religion. The constitution states that religion and state shall be separate. The Religious Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is charged with promoting interfaith dialogue and understanding by supporting collaborative activities across various religions.
The law requires military service for virtually all male citizens between the ages of 20 and 30. Military service lasts between 21 and 24 months, depending on the branch of service. The law does not allow for alternative service or conscientious objectors, who may receive a maximum three‑year prison sentence for refraining from service. Conscientious objectors sentenced to more than 18 months in prison are exempt from further military service and reserve duty obligations, and are not subject to further fines or other punishment.
Those who complete their military service obligation and subsequently become conscientious objectors are subject to fines for not participating in mandatory reserve‑duty exercises. Reserve‑duty obligation lasts for eight years, and there are several reserve‑duty exercises per year. The fines vary depending on jurisdiction but typically average 200,000 Korean won (KRW) ($170) for the first conviction. Fines increase by KRW 100,000‑300,000 ($85‑255) for each subsequent conviction. The law puts a ceiling on the fine at KRW two million ($1,700) per conviction. Courts have the option, in lieu of levying fines, to sentence individuals deemed to be habitual offenders to prison terms or suspended prison terms that range from one day to three years.
The government does not require religious groups or foreign religious workers to register or obtain licenses. Organizations can voluntarily submit documentation verifying religious activity for tax benefits.
The government does not permit religious instruction in public schools. Private schools are free to conduct religious activities.
The preservation law provides government subsidies to historic cultural properties, including Buddhist temples, for their preservation and upkeep.