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Korean Muslim YouTuber's plan to build mosque in Incheon goes viral

Plan likely to face difficulty obtaining permission due to road conditions, neighborhood resistance, says official

April 17, 2024 - 15:00 By Lee Jaeeun
Korean Muslim YouTuber Daud Kim (Daud Kim's Instagram account)

South Korean Muslim YouTuber Daud Kim has again become the subject of media attention, after he announced on his channel that he would build a mosque on land he had purchased in Incheon.

Kim, a content creator in his 30s with more than 5.52 million YouTube subscribers, posts videos in English about living as a Muslim in Korea.

He gained a lot of followers overseas after publicly announcing on YouTube his conversion to Islam from Christianity in September 2019.

In August 2020, he generated controversy when a woman posted a TikTok video claiming Kim had attempted to sexually assault her in June 2019. After the video spread on social media, Kim posted an apology. He admitted the incident had occurred, but said he had reached a settlement with the victim.

Fast-forward to this year: An April 11 Instagram post in which Kim announced he was going to build a mosque on land he had purchased in Incheon has gone viral.

“Finally, with your help, I have signed a contract for land to build Masjid (a mosque) in Incheon,” captioned Kim. “This place will soon become a mosque. I can‘t believe this day has come ... I plan to build a prayer place and an Islamic podcast studio for Da’wah (or ’making an invitation‘ to Islam in Arabic) to Koreans.”

The property purchase contract he uploaded showed that he had bought 284.4 square meters of land in Unbuk-dong, Yeongjong-do, Jung-gu, Incheon, for 189.2 million won ($136,600).

Kim said that he hoped to fill his homeland with places of worship for Muslims, asking for financial assistance from his fans.

However, his plan to build a mosque is expected to face difficulties, according to local reports.

An official from Jung-gu, Incheon, said through Yonhap News Agency, “It appears that Kim has only signed a contract for the sale of the land and has not yet registered himself as its owner,“ referring to the process by which the buyer of a property needs to register their ownership of it at the local community service center after signing the purchase contract.

Kim would also then need to obtain a building permit for the mosque as a religious meeting place. However, as of now, it would be difficult to obtain this permit, the official said. The surrounding environment is considered when granting building permits, and due to the conditions of the roads nearby, it may be difficult to obtain a building permit for a religious meeting place, the official added.

Opposition from non-Muslim Korean residents nearby is another potential issue. Objections to the plan have been posted in one online forum for Yeongjong residents.

In a separate case of a mosque that received permission in 2020 to be built in Daegu, some neighbors filed complaints opposing the mosque‘s construction, leading to the suspension of the project in 2021 and a lawsuit by the Muslims against the district office.

In that case, after worshipping in a small building since 2014, local Muslim students had applied for permission to build a two-story mosque in Daehyeon-dong, Buk-gu, near Kyungpook National University in Daegu as the university has seen a rise in Muslim students of foreign nationality.

However, some non-Muslim neighbors collected signatures to block the mosque and protested against its construction.

The protesters said their objections were related to the noise and dust from the construction, but their complaints also extended to the smells of foreign food being cooked inside the mosque and the sounds of the worshippers, leading to criticism that their protests were driven by Islamophobia.

Some protesters even distributed pamphlets and hung banners calling the Muslims “terrorists,“ left pigs‘ heads outside the mosque and held pork barbecue parties nearby.

Out of South Korea‘s 51.7 million people, the Korea Muslim Federation estimates the Muslim population to be 150,000, of which approximately 120,000 are workers, mainly from Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Pakistan, and 30,000 are students and businesspeople.