Hate thy communist neighbor: Protestants and politics in South Korea

Ji Yeon Hong, Christopher Paik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we investigate how historical persecution and displacement enable religious organizations to become politically influential. Major churches in South Korea are founded by pastors from what is today North Korea, who were persecuted by the communist regime and defected to the south before the Korean War. We show that Protestants in South Korea profess stronger feelings against the North Korean regime, likely motivated by politically charged sermons and strong church congregant networks. As a case examining the Protestant impact on politics, we document how Protestant voters influenced recent presidential election outcomes in South Korea by supporting the conservative party, whose firm stance against the northern neighbor aligned with the group's own.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)707-723
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Communism
  • Elections
  • North Korea
  • Protestantism
  • Religion
  • South Korea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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