Korea Today Muslims in Korea prepare for Ramadan

from sunrise to sunset some 1.6 billion Muslims across the world are observing Ramadan which is the holy month of fasting for the believers of Islam only a small proportion of Muslims live in Korea currently but the numbers are growing and for more on this special holiday for Muslims we have Connie Lee joining us in the studio good morning good morning well like you said officially Ramadan started last night and today is the first full day of fasting for the devout now the Muslims all around the world which accounts for about 23 percent of the world's population go through Ramadan without eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset for a month and it is a time of increase of ocean and worship so how big is the Muslim population in Korea are we talking about 135,000 Muslims in Korea right now which includes foreigners and Koreans now Korean Muslims alone account for 35,000 now although the Muslims here in Korea do face some unique challenges they say they don't wish to be seen as different here's a closer look Kim Junsu is having one of his last lunchtime meals for the next month on the day before Ramadan the holy month of fasting he introduced me to a dish of rice lamb and salad his favorite halal meal when dining out and sold it's been three years since chin soon stopped eating pork after he converted to Islam he's just what are the 35,000 Korean Muslims living in Korea personally not eating pork or drinking alcohol was difficult at first eating pork and drinking alcohol is such a normal practice after hours here in Korea but I can't have either one so when I go out with friends people have to eat something else or change locations because of me the twenty-year-old first studied Islam out of curiosity in high school and then became a devout Muslim himself reading the Quran almost on a daily basis he's back in his hometown in Korea now for summer break but he currently attends University in Saudi Arabia where he studies Arabic and Islamic culture it was hard to get my high school friends and family to understand Islam I lost a lot of my high school friends they didn't say that they didn't want to be friends with a Muslim but once they found out about my religion they distance themselves from me but for other Korean Muslims Jean students hardships are not unfamiliar there are a lot of clashes between Korean culture and Islamic culture a lot of misunderstandings I remembered that my family got upset when I first told him that I couldn't participate and then sestra memorial service that Koreans hope because my Islamic beliefs don't allow me to bow before anyone but Allah at the Mostow both Korean Muslims and foreign believers alike feel at home and at peace and even when it's not Ramadan chincin comes to the Seoul Central Mosque at least twice a week for the services he joins the others in washing his hands and feast before entering the temple there about a dozen people in attendance for this one afternoon service but those numbers are expected to soar once Ramadan officially starts the Seoul Central Mosque is the main mosque in Korea so we always expect many people for the Ramadan period on weekdays we expect around 300 people in the evenings for iftar or the fast breaking meal and on weekends we expect 500 to 600 people more people may come this year because this Ramadan falls during the peak vacation season the Seoul Central Mosque is the first mosque the Masjid in Korea Muslims have been gathering here since 1976 since then about 10 other mosques have been built and there are currently 11 total nationwide this is my third Ramadan in Korea since I moved here from Turkey although there aren't as many mosques or allow food options here I think Muslims in Korea can live more comfortably than other non-islamic countries Muslims can go to different shops am arts here in Itaewon in Seoul and two different mosques around the country even though fasting during Ramadan is not easy jeomsun says that he still looks forward to the season I'm so excited for Ramadan it might seem weird that I would look forward to this time when there is fasting involved but makes me happy to think that other Muslims around the world and I are fasting and praying together it's also a time when our blessings multiply so Ramadan is very meaningful to me now Ramadan is a nice month on the Islamic calendar and the start date of this annual tradition differs each year because it goes along with the lunar calendar but every year Ramadan lasts for 29 to 30 days and this year it will come to an end on August 7 is Lama is the second largest religion in the world in Christianity but in here in Korea Buddhism and Christianity are the two prevailing religions now so I'm quite surprised to see a quite a sizable number of Muslims here in Korea did you were you able to find out some of the reasons that they turned to Islam right a lot of them have of course different reasons of how they were first introduced to Islam many of them I talk to you they first studied it on their own out of curiosity either from hearing about Islam in the media and of course about the religious wars in the Middle East but after studying the religion itself they say they realised that Islam is not about violence or war but it's more about peace and after studying it they have peace and joy themselves and they also had influence from friends who are from selamat countries now the Muslim population actually this is interesting it has been steadily increasing in Korea since the Korean War ended in the 1950s now the Islam first came from Turkey because the turkey Turkish troops came to Korea to aid the Korean troops during the war and after it for humanitarian work and then there's a drastic increase of Muslims in Korea in the 1970s as many Korean companies like construction firms actually opened plants in the Middle Eastern countries now many Korean workers they are converted to Islam and then moved back to Korea bringing their new religion with them and also domestic Korean companies all started to hire more foreign workers from those Middle Eastern countries interesting right right for a lot of Koreans though it must have been difficult to learn more about the religion and the fasting can't be easy either right it's definitely not I mean the Muslims go through the fasting each day from sunrise to sunset but after sunset they actually hold an iftar or which is the last the break fasting meal and the Muslims say that Ramadan is actually a very festive and joyful period because a lot of families and friends gather together in their homes or in very large spaces so at the mosques that I went to in Seoul they actually have the outside space kind of quarantined for this iftar festivity and so all these people will be gathering under a large tent each day until the end of Ramadan so at the iftar festivities there must be a lot of good food to eat right after sunset of course now this opens a new niche market are some Korean companies getting on the bandwagon here you're absolutely right there are a lot of Korean companies actually launching certain products targeting these Islamic countries now just yesterday CJ food fields bugle restaurant has just revealed that they will be offering fusion Korean and halal food during this Ramadan period now the iftar dishes include different a hot stone car be charred grilled Bruegel ghee so in countries right and they say they also be using a lot of Korean traditional spices and sauces on these dishes anything but pork right right anything but port and also no Shing which is a very popular ramen noodle company in Korea they said that they've produced halal ramen noodles at its Factory in Busan which is in southern Korea now they're using soy bean soup instead of the usual beef soup and the halal ramen noodles have been exported to 12th Islamic countries so far just in time for this Ramadan period now both companies say that they have increased food production actually because they realized that there's a lot of eating going on during this Ramadan season and the number of exports have also increased just in time for Ramadan I haven't seen that ramen product yet in my local market but I am very much looking forward to getting my hands on that one it sounds rather healthy right soy bean non believers of Islam can take part in Ramadan a right it's right so great thank you