Thai in Korea, South

Photo Source:  Deepak Meena - Pixabay 
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People Name: Thai
Country: Korea, South
10/40 Window: No
Population: 103,000
World Population: 24,236,500
Primary Language: Thai
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Christian Adherents: 0.80 %
Evangelicals: 0.40 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Thai
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Central Tai, who represent more than a third of the population, call themselves the Khon Thai, meaning "the free people". Centuries ago the Tai lived north of Yangtzekiang in China. Relentless pressure by the Chinese gradually forced them southward. They conquered many peoples and cultures as they sought a new homeland, and by the 10th century they had settled in Central Thailand. A bloodless revolution in 1932, led by Westernized intellectuals, instituted a democratic constitutional monarchy. However, the country has suffered numerous governmental upheavals since then.

Where Are they Located?

Most Thai people live in their home country, although many refugees enter Japan and South Korea seeking job opportunities and a better life.

What Are Their Lives Like?

South Korea is a popular place for Thai refugees to find work. They arrive seeking hope for their future.

Korea switched from a military dictatorship to a democracy resulting in an economic upturn, requiring more workers, especially in industry. There are, however, growing pains as abuses of workers' rights from employers, and discrimination from South Koreans occur. Many today remain illegally, because of South Korean archaic employment laws. Also, some unknowingly enter with fraudulent visas provided by dishonest brokers. Life is hard for South Korean Thai refugees in many ways, and improving in others as the government catches up to the refugee/need ratio.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Buddhism is the central and unifying force in Thai society and even maintains social control.

Theravada Buddhism was introduced in Thailand in 329 B.C. Almost all of the Tai are devout followers of Buddha ("the enlightened one") and seek to eliminate suffering and improve their future by gaining merit in pursuit of perfect peace, or nirvana. They believe that merit can be acquired through feeding monks, donating to temples, and attending worship services.

Traditionally, young men enter a Buddhist monastery for three months to study Buddhism. The Tai also attempt to incorporate their Buddhist beliefs with folk animism, a practice in which they seek help through the worship of spirits and objects.

What Are Their Needs?

The most pressing need of Thai people in South Korea is to understand the truth of the loving God who has made provision for them to become His children, and has paid the full payment of the penalty of their sins. Bible resources exist in the Thai language, but they are not making their way to many Thai people. Who will pay the price to tell them?

Prayer Points

Pray for his kingdom to come and his will to be done among the Central Thai people in South Korea.
Pray for a movement of Thai households to study the Bible and accept the blessings of Christ.
Pray for a spiritual hunger that will drive the Central Thai people to the arms of Jesus.
Pray for South Korean workers who are filled with the fruit and the power of the Holy Spirit to go to the Thai people.

Text Source:   Keith Carey