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[PyeongChang 2018] Here’s good news for Muslims visiting Korea

The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea will welcome delegations from a record 94 countries and tourists around the world for the international event slated for next month. And among the visitors will be Muslims.

Mobile Prayer Room. Photo: KTO
Mobile Prayer Room. Photo: KTO

For Muslims visiting Gangneung -- one of three venues in Gangwon Province where the games will be held -- “mobile prayer rooms” will be set up in the region to attract more adherents of Islam that make up the world’s second-largest religious group, after Christians.

The Korea Tourism Organization, which promotes the country’s tourism industry under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, said it will run 2.8-meter-wide prayer facilities from early February to 2019 to provide Muslims with places to carry out their daily prayer rituals, including the purification ritual of Wudu.

“A total of four prayer facilities that can accommodate five to six people each will be run tentatively near Gangneung Oval until 2019 with the help of Gangwon Province. The number could increase to more regions later after some discussions during and after the Olympics, as the number of Muslim tourists visiting South Korea is continuously on the rise,” an official of the organization told The Korea Herald.

Details including the exact venue of the facilities and their installation date are yet to be confirmed, according to the official.

Currently, the number of Muslims residing here reportedly amounts to roughly 200,000, or just 0.4 percent of the population. There are less than 20 mosques in the nation.

By Bak Se-hwan (