According to statistics from think tank Pew Research Center, Christianity dominates among all religions around the world. An estimated 2.382 billion people from 198 countries and territories are said to adhere to Christian faith, regardless of denomination, in 2020. It is projected to grow to 2.918 billion by year 2050.
But while Christianity has a staggering number of followers globally, it is one of the less dominant religions in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2020, only an estimated 319.8 million Asians are Christians compared to other religions. (Read: Here Are 6 Women Korean Saints Who Are Celebrating Their Feast Day Today)
Which is why coming across people who are Christians in a highly non-Christian country in Asia can surprise us, and perhaps even put a smile on our faces because we feel a certain connection with them. And it’s an even greater discovery to know when your favorite celebrities, who live in countries that are primarily of a different religion, share the same religion as you! Just like in South Korea, where over 20 million are said to be unaffiliated with any religion, and only around 15 million are Christians.
So here are some Korean celebrities and idols that are Christians–specifically Catholics–just like us!
Korean Catholic Celebrities: Kwon Sang-woo
You might know Kwon Sang-woo from the iconic 2003 Korean drama series, “Stairway to Heaven”, where he played Cha Song-joo, or Cholo in the Tagalized version of the melodrama. But did you ever know that the 45-year-old actor is Catholic? He was not born to the religion, but because his mother was Roman Catholic, Sang-woo converted after playing a seminarian in the 2004 drama, “Love, So Divine”. And his confirmation name? Francisco! Yes, the famous actor shares the same name as our beloved Pope! Sang-woo’s son has also been christened and was given the name Luke in 2009.
Korean Catholic Celebrities: Chen
Boy group EXO’s member Chen is one of the more popular idols who are known Catholics, alongside label-mate and fellow idol, Taemin of SHINee. The 29-year-old singer always does the sign of the cross before every performance he does, whether as a solo artist or a member of EXO. Chen’s baptismal name is Mateo!
Korean Catholic Celebrities: Hwasa
Hwasa of girl group Mamamoo is also a Catholic. The youngest of the group, Hwasa’s baptismal name is Maria. And the name became the title of Hwasa’s first solo mini album, and its title track. “Maria” the song was the singer’s “diary” where she talked about her experiences with fame and the effects it had on her mental health. Some reports also say that Hwasa has influenced her band member Wheein to convert to Catholicism. Wheein’s baptismal name is said to be Gabriella, after the Archangel Gabriel. (Read: My Pope Asks: What Is The Korean Coffee Truck Culture?)
Korean Catholic Celebrities: Kim Tae-hee
Actress Kim Tae-hee, who is considered as one of the most beautiful faces in South Korea is a Catholic just like her “Stairway to Heaven” co-star, Sang-woo. And the 41-year-old is a practicing and devout Catholic, alongside her husband Jung Ji-hoon (more popularly known as Rain). Tae-hee, whose baptismal name is Verdi, appeared in the music video of “Koinonia”. The video commemorated Pope Francis’s visit to South Korea–the first time a sitting pope visited the country in 19 years.
Korean Catholic Celebrities: Kim Woo-bin
“The Heirs” and “Uncontrollably Fond” star Kim Woo-bin is another actor who shares his baptismal name with a pope. The 32-year-old is also called Benedictus, just like Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI! He also appeared alongside Tae-hee and other Catholic celebrities in the Koinonia video from 2014.