2002 - 2023Available
13papers in this issue.
This study reviews how the Confucian scholars of the Yeongnam region in Joseon around the 19th century critically perceived Western Learning, particularly the Catholic concepts of Deus and anima. The Confucian scholars of Yeongnam primarily focused on the two aspects of the principle from a Neo-Confucian worldview: the aspect of non-action (muwi) and the aspect of ruling over (jujae). They understood the notion of Emperor Above (sangje) through this ruling nature of the principle. While guarding against the favorable interpretation of Western Learning by the Southerners of the Gyeonggi area such as Yi Ik and An Jeongbok, the Southerners of the Yeongnam region felt the necessity to distinguish their scholarly identity more clearly. The disciples of Yi Sangjeong such as Nam Hanjo, Jo Suldo, Jeong Jongno, Ryu Geonhyu, and Ryu Chimyeong criticized the concept of the Master of Heaven (cheonju) and emphasized the aspect of non-action found in Emperor Above in Confucianism, namely, the impersonal and universal properties of the Great Ultimate (taegeuk) and the principle (ri). Although Western books introducing Catholicism argued that Deus was an immaterial, eternal, and intellectual being, Confucian scholars regarded that a personified Master of Heaven, who had specific emotions and will and judged the good and evil of humans, was ultimately in the same finite category as divine force (yeongsin). In face of such limited and personified characteristic of the Master of Heaven, the Confucian scholars of the Yeongnam region further emphasized the universality and public nature of the principle. This was particularly the case of ancestral spirit (hollyeong), which was universal and public. According to them, material force was constantly regenerated in accordance with the universality of the principle. One was able to perform a worshiping rite and reciprocally connect with the objects of worship, be it one’s ancestors or the sages, since the principle deserved to be revered and worshiped. The key to the worshiping ritual was to therefore understand and perceive the principle with one’s mind and venerate the proper objects of worship. The spirit (sin) only existed when the principle was proper. The encounter with the arguments of Western Learning and Catholicism by the Southerners of the Gyeonggi area who were of the Seongho School as well as the Confucian scholars of the Yeongnam region served as an important opportunity that triggered their various inner capabilities. While the dissemination of Western Learning agitated the intellectuals of Joseon and divided their lines of thought, it also provided an impetus for them to actively reflect upon the beliefs and values they harbored. This is evident by the intellectual response of the Confucian scholars of the Yeongnam area who critically reviewed the meaning of Emperor Above, ancestral spirit, and worshiping rituals.
Choe Hangi, a 19th-century Korean scholar, established an original field of scholarship called gihak, or qi-study which goes beyond the boundaries of the Confucian and Neo-Confucian intellectual foundation of that time. In his study, he used as important intellectual resources Western Learning taken from books translated into Chinese by European missionaries who aimed to propagate Christianity in China. The Western scientific knowledge in those books led him to develop a unique paradigm of thought. This paper focuses on the purpose and effect of his adoption of Western scientific knowledge, rather than his perspective or the particulars of the Western science introduced to his study. The proposition that his gihak should be defined as a meta-discourse and universal science is instrumental in order to expound the implications and purpose of his adoption of Western knowledge. This notion will frame Western science as the sub-disciplinary scholarship constituting the details of the universal framework presented in his gihak. Choe perceives the movement and action of qi as the essence of the world. With an eye towards establishing gihak as a universal science, he used his knowledge of Western learning to prove that the movement and action of qi can be used to interpret the nature and purpose of universe and all living things including humans. This paper will explain the characteristics of gihak as universal science, examine the three layers of scope in his study, and a shift in human understanding. Through this, his intention to address the problems of the time, communicate with the world, and pursue peace through the fusion of Eastern and Western knowledge will be demonstrated.
The world order, in which the modernity of the West constitutes what is universal, touted the advancement of civilization as the common law of nature to justify colonialism. Western scholarship poured into the vacuum of worldview formed by the disintegration of Sino-centrism. The response of modern Korean Confucian intellectuals took various forms. This article focuses on the arguments related to Confucianism and the transformation of the Confucian knowledge system following the acceptance of Western concepts. The status of Confucianism, which had been the state religion during the transitional period to modernity, continued down a path of decline, and its knowledge system was unable to function as the leading principle of the society. The shock brought on by the West was a civilizational transition that could not be resolved by the restoration of morality. The stance to preserve Eastern ways, or moral values, while adopting Western means, or scientific technology, was proposed as a response to the situation. In the dispute over old and new learning, however, Confucianism had to prove whether it could be the proper knowledge system that would satisfy the demands of civilizational advancement and historical progress. Confucianism resorted to the re-appropriation of the existing notion of practical learning, which referred to the scientific technology of the West. From the stance of reformists, Confucian ethics was a universal practical learning. The scientification of learnings brought into the concept of philosophy, which accelerated the changes in the knowledge system centered on Confucianism. When the term gyeokchi, or the investigation of things and the extension of knowledge, and gungni, or the exhaustive search for the principle, were used together as translations of the terms philosophy and science, it was difficult to add the meaning of moral practice beyond the definition as the observation of things and the investigation of principle. Confucianism, which was once regarded to the counterpart to Western philosophy, was pointed as an obstacle to civilization and became a Confucian philosophy during the process of the deconstruction of the knowledge system. Similar to how the traditional knowledge system was rearranged under the name of philosophy, the acceptance of the concept of religion, in which Christianity was the universal religion of civilization, gave rise to skepticism of the religiosity of Confucianism. The social and political teachings of Confucianism were regarded to be closer to philosophy. Although there were many attempts to reform Confucianism from within including by Bak Eunsik as well as movements to make Confucianism into a religion, it was hard for these attempts to spread among the public and be socially influential. The colonial authorities instrumentalized Confucianism, relegating it to a moral resource for the loyal subjects of the Japanese Empire, recognized only Shintoism, Buddhism, and Christianity as religions, and did not acknowledge Confucianism as a religion. Although Confucianism of modern Korean is now regarded as part of the historical cultural heritage, the historical significance of Confucianism during the transitional period to modernity is essential in contemplating modernity.
In this article I will address the question of religion the hwarang group professed and its relationship with Chinese heterodox sects. Particularly, those sects were built around the cult of Candraprabhākumāra, a minor character becoming the center of devotion not unlike that of Maitreya during the post-Han era, specifically during Sui-Tang dynasties. The major concerns of this paper are if Silla and hwarangs may have known about this heterodox figure, and if so, how and when. There will be a tentative of verification of Prof. Pankaj Mohan’s thesis in the light of other scholars, in particular Hubert Michael Seiwert, and most importantly Erich Zürcher, who tried first to study the Candraprabhākumāra’s cults. There will be an assessment of what we know about the hwarangs and what we know about Candraprabhākumāra that could be more related to them. More specifically, the Shouluo biqiu jing, a text examined by all there three scholars, will be analyzed in philological terms. On this basis and on the historical accounts known to us, new hypotheses will be formulated. The conclusions are that the Shouluo jing and the Candraprabhākumāra’s cults were known in Silla though the text was likely written in China as opposed to Pankaj Mohan’s hypothesis of its origin in the southern Korean kingdom. The hwarangs likely also knew that, by mediation of Baekje: the neighbor kingdom likely acted as a mediator for this particular form of Maitreya’s cult.
This article looks into the two notable pavilions of the walled city of Pyeongyang, the Bubyeongnu and the Yeongwangjeong, and their enjoyment by literary figures of the Joseon Dynasty. Bubyeongnu and Yeongwangjeong became famous as the first memorable sight one would encounter just before crossing Daedonggang River to enter the walled city of Pyeongyang. The two pavilions were also perceived as an ideal spot to view the natural surroundings of the river. Whenever a literati group went on a tour, either on a boat or a sleigh, they always enjoyed watching the two splendidly risen pavilions from various angles. Literary figures visiting Pyeongyang enjoyed refined arts such as elegant banquets and musical performances at Bubyeongnu and Yeongwangjeong. As a medium to rejoice in various scenic views and art performances, the two pavilions ultimately became crucial in inspiring the creation of poetry and prose in the region.
In the late 1920s, the Soviet Union launched an official campaign against the so-called “Great Russian chauvinism.” As a result, the Bolshevik Party embarked on a relentless offensive against this phenomenon. Decisions related to the support of national minorities were made at governmental and regional levels across all regions of the country. Soviet indigenization policy and the ill-conceived population resettlement policy contributed to the rise of nationalism. Resettlement was conducted on the entire territory of the Soviet Union with the aim of improving the economy and the national defense capability. The indigenous Slavic population often did not wish to accept the resettled people. In the Far East of the Soviet Union, the so-called Easterners, represented by the Chinese and the Koreans, often endured destructive consequences of local nationalism. Despite this negative experience, the majority of Koreans accepted the official Soviet discourse proclaiming the unity and equality of all nations and participated in the overall Soviet social-economic development and its collectivisation effort. In the Far East, joining a Soviet collective farm (kolkhoz) was the only option of survival for Koreans who were deprived of the right to return to their homeland. Kolkhoz was a safe space where Koreans could band together under state protection against local nationalism. It also gave Korean peasants a chance to work on land in consolidated ethnic units, preserving their language and culture. The Chinese population was primarily represented by seasonal workers. Unlike Koreans, they could freely move back to China at any time. As a result, Chinese were reluctant to join kolkhoz and avoided accepting Soviet citizenship.
The Korean government’s announcement of “Imperial Decree No. 41” was a direct expression of the Korean government’s effort to systematize governmentality over Ulleungdo and express that effort as a matter of territorial nationalism. “Imperial Decree No. 41” marked the full transformation of the Korean government’s will to exercise governmentality over Ulleungdo into territorial nationalism, which is why the Decree must be understood not just as an arbitrary declaration of territorial sovereignty, but the Korean government’s determined and resolute expression of an official urge to clearly end and reject all possibilities for contention and disputation from Japan concerning Ulleungdo. Finally, although Korea was powerless to change the course of the Russo-Japanese War, the Korean government maintained its original perception that Ulleungdo is Korean territory even throughout the war, which shows that the Korean government was not a passive bystander to Japanese intrusions into Ulleungdo, but fully aware that Japan was intent on seizing Ulleungdo by force. Such a perception clearly proves that in spite of the outbreak of a war between foreign countries which desired to usurp and eclipse Korea permanently from the world map, the Korean government was still cognizant of Ulleungdo as Korean territory despite the chaos and confusion caused by a foreign war. In essence, from the very moment Japanese citizens initiated their intrusions in the early 1880s to the eve of Korea’s annexation by Japan, the Korean government made consistent administrative and diplomatic efforts to assure that Dokdo and Ulleungdo remained under Korean jurisdiction.