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  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

The Politics of Jeong and Ethical Civil Society in South Korea

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2006, v.46 no.3, pp.233-257

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Abstract

In this essay, I investigate how the cultural practice ofjeong and auniquely Korean collective moral responsibility, or uri-responsibility,which it entails, have contributed to the recent reinvigoration of ethicalcivil society in democratized Korea by focusing on three civil actioncases. In order to do so, first, I critically examine key concepts like uriand jeong, and challenge the conventional image of uri as an over-weening group identity that promotes social conformism by contrastingit with the pathological group-ego. Special attention will be given to thefamily-relational characteristic of uri and two dimensions of jeong(miun jeong and goun jeong ). Then I explore the political implicationsof uri in civil society by likening it to Rousseaus general will, andfinally highlight the cultural peculiarity of uri-responsibility by compar-ing and contrasting it with two Kantian-liberal accounts of responsibili-ty, on the one hand, and with Jaspers metaphysical responsibility,on the other. The essay concludes by revisiting the ethical vision inthe classical ideal of modern civil society and by presenting a jeong-based ethical civil society as the most politically practicable and cultur-ally relevant Korean alternative.

keywords
uri jeong civil society uri-responsibility Kantian respon-sibility metaphysical responsibilityKim Sungmoon (Kim Seong-mun) is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Govern-ment and Politics at the University of Maryland College Park. His resea uri jeong civil society uri-responsibility Kantian respon-sibility metaphysical responsibilityKim Sungmoon (Kim Seong-mun) is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Govern-ment and Politics at the University of Maryland College Park. His resea

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