Up to the early part of the Joseon period (1392–1910) lecture halls and meditation halls were maintained by the monasteries of the doctrinal and meditational schools, respectively. When the samgha became consolidated into the Seon (Zen) school in the late Joseon period (1600–1910), doctrinal learning was incorporated as part of the three gates of cultivation—meditation, doctrinal studies, and chanting the name of the Buddha Amitābha—which maintained the importance of the three traditions. In the 18th century, Pure Land practices became popular so that assemblies for chanting the name of Amitābha were formed in many areas. This trend continued, and later in the 19th century, Buddha recitation halls became common at monasteries. It was not uncommon for monastics in late Joseon to study at a lecture hall after receiving their precepts and thereafter enter a meditation hall for Seon practices. In the late years of life, he or she would either spend time practicing chanting the name of the Buddha Amitābha at a secluded temple or practice with laypersons. In this way, lecture halls and meditation halls coexisted, providing the backdrop for active debates on meditation and even the nature of the mind. Such context gave way to new developments in practice and thought in Korean Buddhism of the 19th century.
Through a case study of Bogwangsa, this article examines the active role played by laity in rebuilding the devotional and material culture of Buddhism in the final decades of the Joseon dynasty. While the monastic community of this royal votive monastery reached out to the laity to ensure its institutional survival, lay devotees made changes to the physical structure and cultic practices at the monastery, heralding new developments soon to follow in the greater capital area. This study probes the questions of why the monastery was patronized by lay devotees of varied social standings and motivations as well as what benefits, religious and secular, they gained as a result. The study pursues this inquiry through an analysis of the networks of followers and their patronage of “Buddhist projects” (bulsa)—from the construction of worship halls and the publication of Pure Land texts to the dedication of Buddhist paintings—centering around Bogwangsa. While influential male members of King Gojong’s court sponsored the monastery in order to endorse the legitimacy of the monarch, male lay devotees of the “middle” (jungin) class and female court members—who were limited by the status system or gender norms— found in this monastery a place of their own in a society dominated by male Confucian elites. This study restores the role of lay Buddhists, little-explored in previous studies, in the revitalization of Buddhism in 19th-century Joseon society, while enriching our understanding of Buddhist devotionalism.
A significant event in 19th-century Joseon Buddhism was the restoration of the bhikṣu precept lineage. The ordination tradition was weakened in the Joseon period, as Buddhism failed to maintain a cultural, philosophical, and political mainstream position. Although monks were produced throughout the Joseon period, it is highly unlikely that they received complete ordination in accord with the traditional way. The revival of bhikṣu ordination in the early 19th century, therefore, reflects Joseon monks’ attempts to re-establish their Buddhist identity. An interesting phenomenon of this attempt was that, although Master Daeeun Nango 大隱朗旿 (1780–1841) reinitiated the complete ordination and formed a precept lineage with some renowned monks in the early 19th century, several other monks, including Manha Seungnim 萬下勝林 (fl. late 19th century), formed new precept lineages in the same period following their travel to China for ordination. As indicated in the literature, Daeeun’s distinctive method of precept lineage restoration served as rationale for the emergence of later new precept lineages. This paper examines how Joseon saṃgha’s attempts to restore a precept lineage evolved throughout the 19th century, focusing on the historical and religious backgrounds of the formation of Daeeun’s and others’ precept lineages.
This study aims to analyze the characteristics and significance of the Samnangjin (三浪津 ) benefit concert in Yi Kwangsu’s novel The Heartless (Mujeong) from the cultural and historical context of benefit concerts around 1910. First, benefit performances and concerts held in Korea before The Heartless was published are listed and their trends studied. The Heartless was published at a time when benefit performances and concerts from the West and Japan began to increase in Korea. At the time, the logic of benefits—that one should develop a good character and contribute to society—was combined with the modern performance culture of concerts to stimulate the sympathy of the Joseon people. Though based on the popularity of benefit concerts at the time, the benefit concert illustrated in The Heartless differs from these in some respects. The features of the novel’s benefit concert, i.e. its amateurism and sense of solidarity among the performers who are students and female entertainers (gisaeng), the unusual location of the waiting room at Samnangjin station, the freedom to listen to music without admission fees, and the diversity of music from classical music to Korean music, go beyond the culture of that time. And these features allowed the benefit concert to embrace the entire audience. The Heartless shows the author’s belief that the cosmopolitanism of concerts could lead to the civilization and unification of the Korean people without opposing Japanese colonialist logic.
This study examines the distinctive characteristics of fan activities associated with an older population in their fifties, sixties, and seventies, the admirers of the South Korean YouTube star, Beodeuri (BDR). Through observation of the YouTube Videos of BDR’s performance and the posts in her online fan café, this study has found that compared to younger fans who idolize their stars, dedicating time, money, and energy to fan activity, elderly fans tend to be stingier with money, only tipping their star in cash. Their fan community does not have ties as strong as those of younger fans, who are familiar with digital technology and the online world. However, elderly fans produce pleasure and a sense of freedom through their collective fan activity, which transgresses social expectations that older age groups must conduct themselves in a decent, gentle, and respectable manner. They also improve their self-esteem by identifying with their star, BDR, who has lived her life to the fullest. This case study of older populations’ fandom articulates a different type of fandom from that of younger fandoms while also enriching the discussion of how Korea is ageing.
This study analyzes how the Korean poet Yun Dong-ju presents self-reflection and renewal in way similar to philosopher Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology. Both Yun and Husserl commonly emphasized hope at a time of despair, during and amid periods of war. Despite adversity, they centered on self-fulfillment through self-reflection and practical renewal in hope. According to this perspective, this study examines the ego-understanding of Yun and shows that it is similar with Husserl’s phenomenological egology. In particular, Husserl’s phenomenological ego has seven characteristics, which also appear in Yun’s poetry. By examining the seven characteristics of the phenomenological ego as revealed by Yun, this study argues for the similarity between Husserl and Yun and reveals that both authors espoused a similar direction to life: Husserl’s attitude toward the authentic life resonates with Yun’s ideal. This discovery of the phenomenological ego in Yun’s poetry provides an opportunity to introduce his poetry abroad, as a poet who sings universal love for humanity. Understanding Yun Dong-ju’s poetry phenomenologically will also show that self-renewal on the path toward hope is a universal value that transcends place, time, and culture and that this result is realized through love.
This paper investigates whether gender-matching school environments can foster girls’ interest and motivation in science. Using the 2015 PISA data for South Korea, the findings show that single-sex schooling and female teachers have positive effects on high-performing girls’ attitudes in science studies. By attending an all-girls school and being taught by female science teachers, girls who are ranked in the highest quartile of the science test become as motivated and interested in pursuing studies and careers in STEM fields as boys in the same rank. In addition, female teachers also enhance competitive attitudes of average- and low-performing girls. But single-sex schooling has no positive effect on them. These heterogeneous results propose gender-matching schooling as a useful policy instrument to recruit female talent among high-performing girls into STEM fields. Yet, this effect is not universal and therefore cannot be generalized to everyone.
Based upon the analysis of nationalist narratives in the ancient Korean history chapters of eight official Korean history textbooks published in or after 2014, this study attempts to assess how Korean history textbooks meet their stated objective of “Korean history within and alongside world history” drawn from the global citizenship education point of view. This study presents an analytical inquiry into the nationalist narratives embedded in these textbooks—despite appearances to the contrary—notably in the portions dealing with ancient history. Nationalist narratives found in the treatment of ancient Korean history in these textbooks can be categorized into overstatements on the emergence of a single ethnic group, an earlier timeframe for historical events, territorial exaggerations, and misinformation about neighboring countries. It is important to bring the extended stakeholders, particularly history scholars, into the authorship of textbook-making processes to reflect up-to-date findings for objective narratives in textbooks and to take serious account of issues that transcend borders, regions, and cultures from a global and comprehensive perspective. In history education, a balanced understanding of history among learners can be realized only through global citizenship education that goes beyond nationalism.