This paper describes the religious culture of contemporary Korea. It rejects both the causal-normative debate of a standard historical approach and the hegemonic-normative debate of a cultural approach, attempting instead to synthesize facts that are made apparent by the present state. Based on the premise that Korea’s religious culture is in a multireligious state, I conceptualize the types of extant religions into central religions, which are deeply rooted in tradition, and peak religions, which exercise direct influence on contemporary society, to examine these religions’ intersecting teachings on peak-oriented and center-oriented attitudes. Then, I examine how relationships with political authority are formed based on understandings of contemporariness. A religion’s perception of its relations with politics can change depending on whether it considers contemporariness as a monoreligious, multireligious, or multicultural condition. Presently, however, the strata of each religion’s situational perception have been significantly and chaotically convoluted. Finally, I point out that religions are showing qualities of new ethnicity. I highlight the resulting inevitable inabilities of religions to communicate and the exclusion they derive, as well as the dynamism of exclusion, upon which religions build their trade value through mega growth, extremity, and convenience in the current state of multicultural markets.
This study aims to understand the current state of Korean Buddhism by analyzing the development and limitations of the Buddhism reform movement during Korea’s democratic transition since the 1980s. The study first focuses on the repoliticization of Korean Buddhism, following the activation of the religious market. The independence and democratization of the Jogye Order,disputes on discrimination of religions, and the critical discourse over religious power are the results of this repoliticization of Korean religion. Second, the study analyzes the trends in the Buddhist reform movement, beginning with the reforms undertaken by the Emergency Order in the 1980s, which exhibited social reform leanings. Thereafter, the movement led by Buddhist communities (sangha) in the 1990s centered on the practical reform of Mahayana Buddhism rather than social reform. This in turn paved the way for the Reformist Forum that focused on the institutional reform of the Jogye Order in 1994, and the current Reformist Order. Lastly, the study analyzes the tasks faced by the current reform of the Buddhist order, such as forming a new relationship with the state power, increasing Buddhism’s social role, searching for a new order identity, and establishing a harmonized community among monastic monks (chulgaja) and lay Buddhists (jaegaja).
The time around 1990 was an important turning point for the Korean Protestant Church. The church, which had undergone rapid growth in previous years, began declining at this time. In this period, while Korean society saw the system of growth-oriented statist mobilization cease and launched into the era of democratization and the difficult processes of overcoming remnants of the past, the Korean Protestant Church became ever more focused on growth. This paper refers to such a phenomenon as “anachronistic growth” to encompass the fact that the church came to be situated in conflict and tension with civil society. The growth crisis and civil society affect each other in a vicious cycle, which reinforces the negative relationship between the two. This paper examines this vicious cycle by looking at the trajectory of the destructive effect of the church on the notion of “social publicness,” with a focus on the political empowerment of the church. The political empowerment of the church interferes with the institutionalization of a social publicness that is being newly constructed in the post-democratization era. This paper also attempts to conceptualize a notion of “social spirituality” in order to discuss the theology that goes beyond the faith antagonistic to social publicness.
This paper aims to analyze the features, causes, and consequences of issues that Korean Catholicism faced in and since the 1990s. Along with a rapid, continuous increase in the size of its congregation since the 1990s, the number of parish churches, priests, and religious also have grown rapidly. Even in the social welfare sector, Korean Catholicism has experienced the sharpest quantitative expansion among Korean religions. Catholicism’s pronouncements and engagement in social issues, on the other hand, have decreased. Participation of Catholic-based civil organizations in social movements has also plunged. Due to the increasing number of priests, lay believer’s participation in church activities has become relatively passive, which is indicated by ebbing religious commitments. Solidarity of the congregation has weakened and the number of tepid Catholics has grown. Church vitality has diminished markedly with the continuously declining number of the young generation and the sharp surging proportion of the aged. Moreover, with growing wealth as well as social and political influences, the Catholic Church is being criticized, from inside and outside, as a “religious power.” Korean Catholicism has mounted reform drives to deal with such problems, but to no avail. As a consequence, the possibility has risen for Catholicism to accommodate the demands of the middle class congregation,whose degree of commitment is low, and to incur negative societal criticism in place of positive appraisal of the past.
The purpose of this paper is to analyze the apology strategies used by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak during the U.S. beef import negotiation upheaval in South Korea in 2008 and to investigate how these apologies were perceived by the South Korean public. The role of party identification as an audience-related variable in the perception of political apologies in the South Korean context was also examined. A content analysis of President Lee’s speeches and related daily newspaper coverage was conducted to identify the main apology strategies employed by the president and conveyed to the public through the media during the crisis. Experimental work was then carried out to examine the level of acceptance of these strategies, with further research evaluating the effect of party identification on the overall results. According to the results of the experimental work, President Lee’s apology strategies were generally ineffective, with the exception of the clear corrective action strategy. in addition the impact of party identification on the level of acceptance of the major apology strategies was confirmed.
The growing number of discouraged workers—those who leave the labor market despite their willingness to work—is a new employment problem facing the Korean economy. The existing literature has attributed this problem to the internal aspects of the labor market, including the power of labor unions, technological development, and a weakening work ethic. However, such approaches cannot explain how this problem has emerged historically. This study emphasizes two alternative factors. One is financial rationalization that has burdened industries with the pressure of cost reductions since the late 1990s and, thus, reduced their labor demand. The other is the hierarchical structure within Korea’s industries that has accommodated the new financial rule in a way that excludes workers from the labor market. The chaebol’s strategies for cost reductions, particularly squeezing small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and freezing further employment, have exacerbated the SMEs’ problem of finding employment among young and female workers. The labor supply has shrunk, as families have protected these workers by withdrawing them from the labor market. This analysis implies that the global norm of financial rationalization becomes socially risky in Korea, not in and by itself, but because it is combined with Korea’s local institutions.
Jeongjo was the last strong king of the Joseon period and the most successful of the latter half of the dynasty. Jeongjo used his extensive Confucian education to propagate a royalist political philosophy through which to combat the minister-centered thought of the aristocracy. After a brief discussion of royal power in Joseon vis-à-vis contemporary China and tracing the history of the “imperial pivot” (hwanggeuk) concept, this paper draws on conceptual metaphor theory and blending theory to examine how King Jeongjo argued for royal power in his preface to the Hwanggeukpyeon (Book of the Imperial Pivot). It explores four primary metaphors embedded in the complex metaphor of the king as the “imperial pivot” and then looks at the metaphor as a double-scope blend that creates a new space from the source domains of central pivot and king in politics. It argues that Jeongjo draws upon four primary metaphors—particularly that of balance—in order to provoke a visceral desire in his ministers for him to use the power of the throne to eliminate divisive factions. The imperial pivot is a blended space that allows Jeongjo to invoke the visceral desire for equilibrium provided by the pivot metaphor while leaving behind its connotation of passivity.
This study analyzes how three countries of East Asia (China, Japan, and Korea) understands Yun Dong-ju (1917-1945) and recognizes his historical significance, as well as suggests the future directions in interpreting his works. In Japan, Yun is understood as a poet singing innocent sentiment, ethical existence, and universal love for all mankind. The emphasis on future values and the refusal to read his poetry located in a particular time and space, however, denies the historicity of the three nations. For ethnic Koreans in China, Yun is an originator of historical text within which their ethnicity vitally exists. This perspective also leads to overlooking historical and geopolitical characteristics of Yun’s poetry. In South Korea, Yun is placed at the center of nationalism with a postcolonial view; however, there has been a recent movement to comprehend Yun without associating political ideologies. Each nation’s reading of Yun seems to eliminate or simplify multilayered traits of East Asian history and culture embedded in his poetry. This lack of historical awareness impedes the future generation’s introspection of the past when recalling and regenerating Yun. Therefore, the text of Yun Dong-ju that lives in the past, present, and future of East Asian history, requires us to read it responsibly.