Special Issue "The Role and Meaning of Religion for Korean Society"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 29 September 2018

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Song-Chong Lee

Associate Professor of Religion, University of Findlay, 1000 N. Main St., Findlay, OH 45840, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Korean religion and society; cosmopolitanism; neo-Confucianism; Ham Seok-Heon

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Religion is one of the most effective human reactions to cope with various challenges of life. Like other major players, such as family and government, religion plays a powerful role in swinging the pendulum of our destinies between hope and despair, between liberation and enslavement, and between forgiveness and vengeance. There would be arguably no better place than Korea for finding exemplary cases, memories, and narratives. We can see, through the emergence of Buddhism during the Three Kingdom Period, a pendulum’s swing, a political transformation from parochialism to central government. We can see a paradigm shift, on the purpose of politics, from superficial utility for power to inner cultivation through the enhanced axiology and metaphysics of Neo-Confucianism. We can see a pendulum’s swing, on our perception of religion, from the priestly role to the prophetic role in leading and reshaping a society through Donghak Movement and Minjung Theology. The pendulum’s swing can be witnessed in many other domains, including socio-cultural phenomena, textual understanding, and political movements. Examples would further include new, creative interpretations and utilizations of Confucian texts, engaged and patriotic Buddhism, explosive church growth,  nationalist and democratization movements, and revolutionary roles of religious figures. To deepen and expand our understanding of religions in Korea, this issue invites papers that would address a variety of questions concerning the role and meaning of religion and religious texts for society.

Prof. Song-Chong Lee
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Asian Religion
  • Confucianism
  • Neo-Confucianism
  • Buddhism
  • Chinese Religion
  • Japanese Religion
  • Religion and Politics
  • Korea

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Performing the Bible in the Korean Context: Korean Ways of Reading, Singing, and Dramatizing the Scriptures
Religions 2018, 9(9), 268; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9090268
Received: 7 August 2018 / Revised: 3 September 2018 / Accepted: 6 September 2018 / Published: 10 September 2018
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Abstract
The present study explores the performative nature of the Bible as a sacred text in the Korean context. Drawing on the theory of scriptural performance advocated by James W. Watts, I investigate its character as words and contents. First, I delve into
[...] Read more.
The present study explores the performative nature of the Bible as a sacred text in the Korean context. Drawing on the theory of scriptural performance advocated by James W. Watts, I investigate its character as words and contents. First, I delve into the scriptural performance of thoroughly reading (and listening to) the Bible at the level of words. Second, I scrutinize the scriptural performance of singing and dramatizing the Bible at the level of contents. The specific context of South Korea—whether religious, cultural, or social—alerts us to the performed transformation of the semantic range of the long-standing Christian tradition. Given the cultural differences between Western and Eastern Christianity, I contend that the adaptation of Christianity to Korean soil renders the performative dimension of the scriptures all the more semantic. In other words, the Korean ways of performing the Bible are essentially deeply rooted in those of signifying it. In the long term, Christianity turns out to be such a global religion that it provokes a more complex analysis of its scriptural performance in its widely differing range of semantics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role and Meaning of Religion for Korean Society)

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: A Critical Evaluation of Religious Education in Korea

Abstract: Modern religious education programs that we can easily find in Europe and North America have yet to be fully established in Korea. The construction of such a thing is a very recent development (since 1969) and phenomenon, which has been emerging in Korea, initially within the context of mission schools and other religiously affiliated schools. However, this development is not yet properly understood in Korean schools. This essay will focus on three critical aspects pertaining to the current religious education in the Korean peninsula. The scope of our discussion will not cover the situation of religious education in North Korea because it is almost impossible to obtain accurate information. The first section will deal with the situation of Korean religious demography as it pertains to the necessity of religious education and the conventional image of religious education within the schools. The second section will draw a list of critical issues and highlight the impact which they have on the direction of religious education policy particularly since the establishment of the government’s equalization educational policy in 1969. The last section will critically examine a number of constitutional issues regarding the question of religious coercion, which was unintentionally caused by the government policy.

Title: Street Mass: A new way of sociopolitical engagement of the Catholic Church in Korea

Abstract: In the 1970s and 1980s under military regimes, the participation of the Catholic Church in Korea in movements of political opposition centered on the prophetic role of supporting the poor and marginalized and criticizing socioeconomic and political injustice in the form of human-rights violations. After democratization in 1990s, the Church continued to take on its role of identifying and dealing with many of the socioeconomic and political issues which shattered and divided Korean society. Since the 2010s, however, under the leadership of activist priests mainly from the Catholic Priests’ Association for Justice, religious and lay people have been organizing street Masses (gilgeori misa) in order to address the thorny sociopolitical issues that Korea has been facing. These Masses, which are celebrated on a makeshift altar set up in a street rather than in a church, are a new phenomenon, a new way of manifesting the vitality of the Church as a vigilant beacon for social justice. They serve to engage the Catholic Church in the current sociopolitical issues that have been plaguing Korea by publically calling them to people’s attention. The purpose of this article is to analyze this new mode of sociopolitical involvement of the Church in Korea. The religious validity and practical necessity of street Masses are in dispute. This paper will examine the impact that they have had for social justice and human rights and the implications they have for the role of Christian religious activity in Korean society.

Title: Korean Characteristics in the Christianity of Dasuk Ryu Youngmo: Focusing on the idea of God and Christ

Abstract: Dasuk Ryu Youngmo(多夕 柳永模, 1890-1981) is assumed as an intellectual in early modern Korea, who had a Koreanized-Christian spirituality. He was a traditional Christian in his youth. However, Ryu had attempted to convert Western Christianity into Korean context since he was 23 years old. His ideas were well presented in the doctrine of God and Christology, which were based on his personal spiritual experiences. He denied the personalized God of Christianity and the divinity of Christ. He believed that one can become the son of God if realizing the eol(soul) that was bestowed on human beings. This idea was originated from the teachings of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism in Korea, which he studied throughout his entire life. Just as Korean religiosity is often considered the mixture of Korean religions, Dasuk ’s belief can be understood as a Koreanized Christianity. In this article, the author describes the religious ethos of Dasuk by tracing his creative interpretation of Christianity.

Title: The Four Seven Debate of Korean Neo-Confucianism and the Moral Psychological and Theistic Turn in Korean Philosophy

Abstract: This paper discusses how Korean Neo-Confucian philosophers in the Joseon dynasty (1392 – 1910) explain the moral nature of the mind and its emotions. Among the philosophical debates of Korean Neo-Confucianism, the author of the paper focuses on the Four-Seven Debate (a philosophical debate about the moral psychological nature of the four moral emotions and the seven morally indiscrete emotions) to analyze the li-qi metaphysics (a philosophical explanation of the universe through the intricate and interactive relation between the two cosmic processes, i.e., li and qi) of Neo-Confucianism and how it explains the goodness of moral emotions. Because of the ambiguities and inconsistencies in the Neo-Confucian explanation on the nature and functions of the mind, Korean Neo-Confucians struggled to bring the Neo-Confucian li-qi metaphysics to the moral and practical issues of the human mind and human living. Some of Korean Neo-Confucians in the later Joseon period realized the fundamental limitation of li-qi metaphysics in its explanation of moral goodness and turned to moral psychological and theistic solutions.

Title: Performing the Bible in Korean Context: Korean Ways of Reading, Singing, and Dramatizing the Scriptures

Abstract:  The present study explores the performative nature of the Bible as a sacred text in the context of Korean Christianity. Employing James W. Watts’ critical theory of scriptural performance, I investigate its character as words and contents. First, I delve into the scriptural performance of thoroughly reading (and listening to) the Bible at the level of words. Second, I scrutinize the scriptural performance of singing and dramatizing the Bible at the level of contents. The specific context of South Korea—whether religious, cultural, or social—alerts us to the performed transformation of the semantic range of the long-standing Christian tradition. Drawing particular attention to the cultural differences between Western and Eastern Christianity, I contend that the adaptation of Christianity to Korean soil renders the performative dimension of the scripture all the more semantic than Western Christianity may imagine. In other words, the Korean ways of performing the Bible are essentially deeply rooted in the Korean means of signifying it. In the long term, Christianity turns out to be such a global religion that it provokes a more complex analysis of its scriptural performance in its widely differing range of semantics.

Title: Korea National Prayer Breakfast and Protestant Leaders’ Prophetic Consciousness: Focusing on the Period of Military Government (1965-1987)

Abstract: This paper illuminates Korean Protestant leaders’ prophetic consciousness by examining the “Korea National Prayer Breakfast (Gukgajochangidohoe, 국가조찬기도회)” that they hosted particularly during the military regimes. For the motivation and intention of this special religious event in the political space, most scholars have emphasized the Protestant leaders’ political ambition and agendas to get the government support and have a stronger influence on Korean society. However, the more important reason that the leaders planned and held the meeting was that they had religious aspirations to make the country righteous in God’s sight. Their main goal was to have a good influence on the inner circle of the military dictatorship which some Christians regarded as an evil force. They counseled, preached to, and prayed for the military regimes. Their sermons were often unpleasant and challenging for the presidents and their associates. The Protestant leaders wanted to play the role of John the Baptist rebuking Herod Antipas rather than the compliant chief priests and scribes serving Herod the Great.

Title: Tracing the Satipaṭṭhāna in the Korean Ganhwa Seon Tradition: Its ‘Periscoped’ Visibility in the Mindful Hwadu Sisimma, ‘Sati-Sisimma’

Abstract: The Buddha is said to have awakened to the true nature of existence and attained final liberation from suffering through the practice of Satipaṭṭhāna. This practice begins by addressing sensations from the processes of body and mind, as characterized by ‘bare attention’ through non-judgmental observation, ultimately effecting a transformation into a unique religious experience. During its transmission to East-Asian countries, particularly in the Chan tradition, the essence of Satipaṭṭhāna-sutta has become transformed in its Sinitic process, while sharing the theme of intense concentration, perhaps in the form of ‘counter-illumination’- an extended equivalent of ‘bare attention’ as likely as not. There is little written on which aspects of the Indian contemplative tradition were passed on to the Chan/Seon schools. In the Korean Ganhwa Seon practice, however, there are some indications that the spirit of Satipaṭṭhāna, resonating as a reminder of sustaining mindfulness, has been partially manifested having crystallized into a mindful hwadu called Sisimma, ‘Sati-Sisimma.’ To substantiate this, this paper investigates on how the two seemingly different practices can be seen to link together in the Korean Seon tradition, and proposes pari passu meditative parallels, Satipaṭṭhāna and Sati-Sisimma, suitable for a ‘doing mode’ and a ‘being mode,’ respectively in modern meditative practices.

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