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Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review

Volume 9, Issue 1, 2018
Special Issue on Korean New Religions

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1. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 9 > Issue: 1
Gyungwon Lee Introduction to Special Issue on Korean New Religions
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2. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 9 > Issue: 1
Chongsuh Kim Contemporary Korean Religious Change in the East-West Religious Context
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The most prominent characteristics of the religious situation in contemporary Korea can be said to be the following: first, the religious population is large and is increasing rapidly at present. Second, in a situation of multi-religious coexistence, no particular religion takes precedence over another; Western religions, however, are challenging and gradually overwhelming Eastern religions. In this paper, I argue that these two features are closely related to each other. When compared with other countries, religions are growing more rapidly in Korea and with an unusual level of enthusiasm, a situation which has emerged as a result of the unprecedented inter-religious clash that has developed between Eastern and Western religions.
3. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 9 > Issue: 1
Hairan Woo The New Age Movement in South Korea: Development and Scope
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The New Age movement—i.e., non-mainstream and non-institutionalized religious/spiritual culture—is widespread across Asian countries, especially in advanced industrial societies and urban areas. Even though it has often been said that New Age is a global phenomenon, in non-western societies, only a small circle of scholars engages in research in this field. As a result, the New Age movement in South Korea is an area that is barely known about among foreign scholars. This paper presents an overview, delineating the historical development of New Age in South Korea and examining its sociocultural background. At the same time, the key components of Korean New Age will be identified. This dualistic approach—both diachronic and synchronic—will enable a more complex picture of Korean New Age to emerge.
4. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 9 > Issue: 1
Don Baker, Seok Heo Kaebyŏk: The Concept of a “Great Transformation” in Korea’s New Religions
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One of the distinguishing characteristics of Korea’s new religions is an expectation of kaebyŏk, a “Great Transformation” which will eliminate the many conflicts human beings are facing today and produce a world in human beings will find themselves instead in cooperative and mutually beneficial relationships with both their fellow human beings and the natural world. Kaebyŏk once referred to the creation of the world. The use of kaebyŏk in Korea to mean “re-creation” first appeared in the teachings of Ch’oe Cheu, the founder of Tonghak. It was reiterated by Kim Hang, the author of Correct Changes. Kang Ilsun, revered by the Chŭngsan family of religions, further elaborated on the reasons kaebyŏk is imminent and how we can hasten its arrival. Park Chungbin, the founder of Won Buddhism, then suggested that kaebyŏk of the material world was already happening and proposed steps we should take to ensure that we keep pace spiritually. These four Korean religious leaders stimulated an important shift in the Korean world-view which has influenced not only followers of Korea’s new religions but the spirituality of Koreans in general.
5. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 9 > Issue: 1
Suksan Yoon The Meaning of Donghak Thinking in the Post-Modern Period
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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.
6. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 9 > Issue: 1
Taesoo Kim The "Resolution of Grievances for Mutual Beneficence” and its Relation to the “Reordering of the Universe” in Daesoon Thought
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This study is an attempt to show the religious implications of the central tenet of the “resolution of grievances for mutual beneficence” in Daesoon thought in relation to its other tenet of the “harmonious union between divine beings and human beings.” This new school of religious thought developed as the main idea of Daesoon Jinrihoe (“The Fellowship of Daesoon Truth”), established at the end of nineteenth century in Korea by Kang Jeungsan, who is known as a “Holy Master” or “Sangje.” Upon receiving a calling to perpetuate religious orthodoxy from Sangje Kang, Doju Jo Jeongsan launched the Mugeuk Do religious body and constructed a Yeongdae—a sacred building at which the 15 Great Deities were enshrined. He then laid down the “four tenets” of Daesoon thought and issued the Declaration of the Propagation of Dao, which was said to show followers the way to seek the soul in the mind.
7. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 9 > Issue: 1
Kwangsoo Park Irwon Philosophy and Social Engagement: Won Buddhism as a New Korean Religion
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Won Buddhism, founded by Master Sot’aesan in 1916, is regarded as one of the four major religions in Korea. The active participation of its followers in social and educational movements has led to the spread of this religion both in Korea and in other countries. One of the most significant aspects of new religions in Korea is that they champion the universal value of “publicness,” seeking to overcome the historical suffering associated with colonialism and imperialism by constructing a peaceful and egalitarian modern society. The founding motive behind Won Buddhism was Master Sot’aesan’s search for a way in which to realize world peace in a truly civilized world, where material civilization and spiritual civilization are harmonized. To this end, a new interpretation of the Mahayana Buddhist teachings was fused with Irwon philosophy in a bid to heal social ills through “mutual life-giving” (the Korean term for ensuring the wellbeing of all society).
8. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 9 > Issue: 1
Eileen Barker The Unification Church
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The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (HSA-UWC), founded in Seoul in 1954 by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon (1920–2012), has been more popularly known as the Unification Church (UC) or ‘the Moonies.’ Following revelations that he reports having received as a young man, Moon devoted his life to preaching and eventually publically proclaiming himself to be the Messiah, or Lord of the Second Advent, come to fulfil the mission of restoring God’s Kingdom of Heaven on earth. His early struggles in Korea clearly had a considerable influence on the trajectory of his life and the development of the UC into a world-wide movement that reached into a wide variety of areas, such as anti-communist politics, the media, the arts, the sciences and vast businesses. Following Moon’s death, the movement has split into three separate factions, the largest of which is run by his widow, and the other two by, respectively, his oldest living and youngest sons.
book reviews
9. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 9 > Issue: 1
Neil Anderson Rethinking Religion in the Theatre of Grotowski. By Catharine Christof
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10. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 9 > Issue: 1
Benjamin Jozef Banasik Gamelife: Memoir of a Childhood. By Michael W. Clune
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