Chaplaincies traditionally played an important role in the South Korean army, as religion was supposed to be an ideological weapon in the struggle against “godless Communist” North Korea. Protestant and Catholic chaplaincies were established in 1951 and then contributed greatly to the high-tempo growth of churches in post-Korean War South Korea. Buddhist chaplaincy was first permitted in 1968, as large number of Buddhist draftees was to be sent to fight in Vietnam. Since then, it has been seen by the Buddhist community as a crucial tool in securing the loyalty of the draftees; there is a widespread understanding that the religious loyalties defined among the hardships of conscript life in the military last for lifetime. As Buddhist chaplains (gunseung) numerically amount only to ca. one-half of the Protestant chaplains (gunmok) and the Buddhist field temples constitute only ca. one-third of the number of Protestant churches in the military units, Buddhist chaplains mostly see themselves as fighting an uphill battle against their Christian competitors. This paper focuses on the ways in which Buddhist chaplains define their tasks—often referred to as “increasing the spiritual strength [of the army]” (jeongsinnyeok ganghwa)—and ideologically legitimize their work in terms of their own religious doctrine. It will explore the ways in which they construct a model of desirable masculine behavior for the Buddhist draftees, and also on the responses they receive from their draftee audience. It will emphasize the methods they use to simultaneously justify the supposedly licit violence of the state militarist machine and prevent the illicit violence (hazing) between the soldiers. It is mostly based on the in-depth interviews conducted by the author with the Buddhist chaplains, current and former, in Seoul in July 2013.
Far from being limited to social scientists, the market approach to religions has been widely adopted by religious actors as well, sometimes in a very explicit way. With an ethnographic methodology, this research analyzes how Buddhist organizations in South Korea are implementing business concepts and methods in temples with the aim of increasing their influence in society. It addresses how managerial models and advertising techniques have been appropriated in a religious context and how they interact with redefinitions of Buddhist propagation. This paper argues that the use of communication and management techniques from the business world is not an epiphenomenon. Instead, it echoes a deeper transformation of Buddhism within South Korean society, especially in the role and place of the laity. For the urban temples engaged in ambitious development projects, the use of market related techniques is not merely a way to engage in a market-like competition. It also contributes to redefine their organizational structure as well as their division of religious work, in affinity with a dominant concept of religion.
John Dewey, a well-known American educational philosopher who had led the so-called progressive educational movement in early 20th century, visited East Asia around 1920 for a while. Facts about his visit, not to mention the meaning or impact of his visit, were not fully researched yet, while his educational thoughts have had deep and wide impacts on educational theory and practices in this region since then. Especially Korea is one of the countries in Asia where the thought and theory of John Dewey extended strong influence in educational reforms and academic debates on schooling. Before and after his visit of East Asia, John Dewey expressed his notion about East Asian countries including Korea. His visit, as a matter of course, was done based on his knowledge about this region. This paper is interested in looking for the background, contents, and the significance of his perception of Korea around 1920 when Korea was under the colonial rule of imperial Japan and the name John Dewey was in every intellectual’s mouth. There is not a single article or document on Korea written by John Dewey. Some sentences or paragraphs on Korea are found among his works on Japan and China written by him around 1920. These recordings are fortunately included in the 15 volumes of collection of John Dewey’s middle works compiled by Jo Ann Boydston and published by Southern Illinois University in 1982. These are some parts of the full collection of his writings, making up 37 volumes. This collection is to be analyzed carefully for this research. Dewey’s perception of Korea is well condensed, I assume, in his expression “Korea is the second Ireland” which he used in an article on China in 1919. I would like to clarify the reason why Dewey identified Korea with Ireland by comparing him with other intellectuals who used the same metaphor in Korean history.
Kim Il-yeop is considered to have been a pioneering female writer in the history of modern Korean women’s literature, beginning in the 1920s; she was Korea’s first female editor and publisher of a magazine for women, Sinnyeoja. She was one of the first generation of Korean “new women” and “modern female writers.” More importantly, however, Kim Il-yeop had a close relationship with Protestant Christianity and was at one time in her life a devout Christian. This paper investigates what in fact Christianity meant to Kim Il-yeop in her own life, in other words, how exactly she understood the Christian religion and in what ways she experienced and practiced it. Christianity shaped the landscape of her childhood, which included a Christian home, a Christian education, and her father’s embodiment of a fine Christian character as a pastor. Concerning her personality in her childhood, Kim Il-yeop herself attributed her fine and optimistic character to her Christian faith. On the other hand, however, she characterized Christianity as a religion of “repressive ideas” whose doctrines operated as a moral force that compelled strict self-regulation. More importantly, Kim Il-yeop understood herself through her identity as a pastor’s daughter and according to the expectations of her father. She experienced and understood Christianity and the true Christian life through her father. Her father’s influence on her derived primarily from the lessons she learned in observing his sincere religious life, rather than Christian doctrine. Kim Il-yeop understood the lessons of his Christian life more broadly and practiced them in her religious life after she became a Buddhist monk. Later on in life, Kim Il-yeop began to present a growing skepticism about Christianity, and this resulted in the weakening and final rejection of her Christian faith. She ultimately repudiated all the beliefs and claims she had accepted before. The motivation behind her repudiation of Christianity was the fact that she was interested in “free love” and even enjoyed romantic relationships during her youth. Indeed, her life as a new woman went against strict and conservative Christian norms and ethics. Kim Il-yeop’s repudiation of Christianity was in a broader sense related to the traditional and patriarchal Christian churches of Korean Christianity at that time. For her, Christianity itself never became a real power and source of energy with which she could handle the reality and difficulty of life, and in the end, she failed to save her faith.
Yi Chungjun is known as a prolific writer who wrote many works until his death. So, it may appear strange that he wrote only a few works in the 1980s. Three short stories, “Beolrae Iyagi” (The Tale of Bug), “Sumeun Songarak” (Hidden Finger), and “Nugeundeul chojangbuteo kkuneuro taeeonarya?” (Can Anyone Be Born an Expert?) were written during this time. More precisely, these stories were written during the difficult period between the May 18 Gwangju Incident and the June Democratic Struggle. At this time, the new military regime established a strange order of discourse that did not permit people to either criticize or forgive the rulers’ hypocrisy. Under this order of discourse, the ruling powers could distort people’s criticism into a justification of their rule. Thus, they also had no need of people’s forgiveness. As a means to overcome this discursive situation, Yi Chungjun aimed to write literature as symptoms. He distinguished between literature for alibis and literature as symptoms. The former can only represent the past. However, a novelist writing the latter analyses social conditions in historical context first and reveals contemporary features as a consequence. Thus an analysis of contemporary events is allegorically performed through discussion of past events. For example, the case of Yi Yunsang’s kidnapping in 1980 is alluded to in “The Tale of Bug” (1985), and the time setting for “Hidden Finger” (1985) is the Korean War of the 1950s. However, these short stories are not mere representations of past events. Although they seem to be just interesting stories, they embrace intensively political features. This is because literature as symptoms intervenes in contemporary problems through the methodology of allegory.
This paper presents an exposition of social confluence theory, a concept of identity formation first introduced by Alex Lubet. The theory posits that the fundamental unit of identity in globalized, high technology, information-oriented societies such as the United States and South Korea is no longer a relatively stable unit such as the nation-state, ethnic group, faith community, nuclear or extended family, or individual. Rather, it is the status of the individual or group within the sociocultural or psychosocial encounter of the moment, which we call the social confluence. We first demonstrate the application of the theory with examples from the intersection of disability and music. To further illustrate the theory’s potential, we apply it to Korean identity, demonstrating the great mutability of that identity across different contexts or social confluences, using examples from South Korea and the United States, including international Korean adoptees, North Korean refugees, and Korean and other Asian-Americans in pan-Asian arts organizations. We conclude by proposing research topics in disability studies and Korean studies for which social confluence theory seems particularly apt, in particular the categorizations of people with Autistic Spectrum Conditions, while proposing extended research applications for the theory, with particular attention toward South Korea.