SEOUL – As the smart phone phenomenon gathers pace, religious groups in South Korea have been busy developing mobile applications to attract more young people.

Catholics, Protestants and Buddhists are taking the lead in providing free apps such as a GPS service for locating temples and churches or an application for studying religious scriptures.

Fr Bartholomew Choi Gi-hong, who created an iPod broadcast service for Chunchon diocese, told that religious groups can reach young people in cyberspace with “impressive digital content”.

Fr Choi, who is director of media in the diocese, stressed that religious authorities should recognise their faithful as “consumers of religious content in cyberspace”.

Early this year, Seoul archdiocese launched iPhone and Windows Mobile apps for Bible readings, hymns, information on saints, radio broadcast extracts and a Catholic address book.

In late October, the archdiocese started a mobile web service providing Bible information, daily missal readings, prayers and churches, as well as a GPS tracking service to find the nearest parish.

It is also working to develop a liturgy app for the iPad.

Meanwhile, Buddhist groups are offering a “temple stay” app introducing information on local temples and their programmes. A free app for studying Buddhist scriptures is also available.

Protestants are trying to facilitate interactive communication with their flocks with various applications for Christian music, Bible reflections, homily video clips and Church news.

Fr Choi said a report that “almost everyone will use a smart phone in two to three years” inspired him to launch iPod broadcasts in September. •

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