published on July 13, 2018
Suk San Yoon
The Meaning of Donghak Thinking in the Post-Modern Period
The purpose of this paper is to study Donghak thought in relation to the idea of the current, post-modern era coming to an end. The concepts of “serving God within me” (sicheonju, 侍天主), “treating and respecting human beings as you would treat God” (sainyeocheon, 事人如天), “honoring the three” (samkyung, 三敬), and “Heaven eating Heaven” (icheonsigcheon, 以天食天), which are key to Donghak doctrine, will be examined. The meanings of “serving,” “treating and respecting,” and “harmony and balance” within the context of the aforementioned Donghak concepts will also be explored. In the present, post-modern period, humankind’s future is seen in a very negative way, with previous Utopian energies being considered exhausted. There are a multitude of “isms” and arguments in which reification and alienation within modern society are defined as omens of the end of this industrial era, which has corrupted and devastated human life. Today, religious movements are obliged to provide a spiritual drive that will lead their followers forward into a new era, establishing internal solidarity while associating with external elements. In this sense, the Donghak movement must put into practice the notions of “service, respect, and resuscitation” that are prominent in the ideologies behind the “serve God within me,” “treat and respect human beings as you would treat God,” “honor the three,” and “Heaven eats Heaven” concepts. In other words, in order to compete in the modern world, Donghak must concentrate on the belief that spiritual power can change society for the better.