Koryŏ Sŏn Buddhism and Korean Literature


This study approaches the rise of Sŏn poetry and its contributions to mainstream, secular poetry by looking at the careers and works of five eminent Sŏn monks of the late Koryŏ, whose lives span more than two hundred years of Koryŏ history from just before the 1170 revolt of the military officials until after Mongol domination, which ended in 1351. It begins with the eminent twelfth-century monk Chinul, who is credited with reviving and reforming Sŏn Buddhism, and continues with four other monks who followed the path he blazed: Hyeshim, Ch'ungji, Pou, and Hyegŭn. Not only did these monks have close connections with the Ch'oe family military regime but some also were willing to voice a social conscience. Moreover, in the field of literature, they contributed new forms that served their own Sŏn Buddhist needs while also contributing to mainstream literature in a major way.