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Makers of Modern Korean Buddhism

Jin Y. Park

Publication Year: 2009

An overview of Korean Buddhism and its major figures in the modern period. The first book in English devoted exclusively to modern Korean Buddhism, this work provides a comprehensive exploration for scholars, students, and serious readers. Makers of Modern Korean Buddhism focuses on three key areas: Buddhist reform, Zen revival, and the interrelationship of religion, history, and politics. In Korea, the modern period in Buddhism begins in earnest in the late nineteenth century, during the closing years of the Chosoûn dynasty, which was characterized by a repressive brand of neo-Confucianism. Buddhist reformers arose to seek change in both Buddhism and Korean society at large. The work begins with a look at five of these reformers and their thought and work. The Zen revival that began at the end of the nineteenth century is covered from that period to contemporary times through an exploration of the life and thought of important Zen masters. The influence of Japanese Buddhist missionaries, the emergence of Korean engaged Buddhism, known as Minjung Buddhism, and the formation of modern Buddhist scholarship in Korea are discussed as well.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Korean Studies

Title Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

I would like to express my sincere appreciation to Professor Sung Bae Park for his support for this project and for making this volume a part of SUNY Series in Korean Studies. I would like to thank Steven Heine for his support for this project and acknowledgment of the importance of this volume. I also thank Professor John Gould for his critical reading of the essays in this volume and helpful com-...


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pp. ix-x

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Introduction: Buddhism and Modernity in Korea

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pp. 1-16

Buddhism’s encounters with modernity appear in different forms, depending on the regional specifics and historical contexts in which these encounters took place. In the West, the encounter resulted in the introduction of Buddhism to the Western world, which was followed by the emergence of a modern style of Buddhist scholarship and of new forms of Buddhism. In the context of Asia,...

Part One: Modernity, Colonialism, and Buddhist Reform

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Individual Salvation and Compassionate Action: The Life and Thoughts of Paek Yongsŏng1

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pp. 19-40

The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were a troubled period in Korean history marked by the political failure of the Chosŏn dynasty (1392–1910) and Japanese oppression and colonialism (1910–1945). For modern Korean Buddhists in general, and for Paek Yongsŏng (1864–1940) in particular, this period represents a time when freedom, independence, purity, vigor, and sensitivity to ...

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A Korean Buddhist Response to Modernity: Manhae Han Yongun’s Doctrinal Reinterpretation for His Reformist Thought1

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pp. 41-60

During the first half of the twentieth century, Korean Buddhism had to deal with two challenges: It had to overcome the effect of the anti-Buddhist policies of the Confucian Chosŏn dynasty (1392–1910), under which Buddhism had suffered institutionally, doctrinally, and socially; at the same time, it also had to transform itself into a religion that was compatible with the new society ...

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Sot'aesan's Creation of Won Buddhism through the Reformation of Korean Buddhism

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pp. 61-90

This chapter attempts to clarify the relationship between Won Buddhism and Korean Buddhism by discussing (1) a history of the foundation of Won Buddhism, (2) Sot'aesan's reformation of Korean Buddhism, (3) the four platforms of Won Buddhist teaching, and (4) its central doctrines....

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Yi Nŭnghwa, Buddhism, and the Modernization of Korea: A Critical Review1

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pp. 91-108

Th is essay examines Yi Nŭnghwa’s (1869–1943) role in the modernization of Korea in the early twentieth century. Th e primary concern of this essay will be to assess Yi’s literary activities and his view of Buddhism based on two of his major works, Paekkyo hoet’ong (Harmonization of All Religions) and Chosŏn Pulgyo t’ongsa (A Comprehensive History of Korean Buddhism, hereafter, History of Korean Buddhism). Yi Nŭnghwa considered Buddhism a useful teaching that...

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Gendered Response to Modernity: Kim Iryŏp and Buddhism1

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pp. 109-128

Discussions of Buddhist modernity in Asia have frequently characterized the phenomenon with the emergence of nationalism, mass-proselytization, lay Buddhist movements, and the influence of political situations such as imperialism, communism, and colonialism, to name a few.2 Th e modern period in Korean Buddhism was the time for reform.3 Whether it takes the form of a revival of ...

Part Two: Revival of Zen Buddhism in Modern Korea

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Mirror of Emptiness: The Life and Times of the Sŏn Master Kyŏnghŏ Sŏngu1

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pp. 131-156

Sŏn Buddhism (C. Chan; J. Zen) is the dominant form of Buddhism in modern Korea. Th e developments—historically as well as doctrinally—leading up to the current situation began more than twelve hundred years ago during the Silla dynasty (c. 300–936). In the course of its long history, the Korean Sŏn tradition has experienced several periods of prosperity as well as periods of decline. The...

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Sŏn Master Man’gong and Cogitations of a Colonized Religion

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pp. 157-170

This essay seeks to examine the life of Buddhist monk, Man’gong (1872–1946), during the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910–1945), and his prominent role in the struggle against the attempted colonization of Korean Buddhism. This role becomes quite significant when we consider that the occupying Japanese authorities had made a concerted effort to restructure the basic institutions of...

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Sŏn Master Pang Hanam: A Preliminary Consideration of His Thoughts According to the Five Regulations for the Saṅgha1

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pp. 171-198

Pang Hanam (1876–1951) played a prominent role in the making of modern Korean Buddhism. One of Kyŏnghŏ’s main disciples, Hanam is widely perceived as an awakened Sŏn master and teacher who furthered the revival of Korean Sŏn practice.2 During the last two decades of his life, Hanam also was one of the representative spiritual leaders of Korean Buddhism, elected and reconfirmed...

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Zen Master T’oe’ong Sŏngch’ŏl’s Doctrine of Zen Enlightenment and Practice

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pp. 199-226

Th is essay investigates T’oe’ong Sŏngch’ŏl’s (1912–1993) theory of “sudden enlightenment and sudden practice” (K. tono tonsu) based on his theory of Th ree Gates and its implication in Sŏngch’ŏl’s view on hwadu (C. huatou) meditation. Through a series of publications and lectures, Sŏngch’ŏl presented a “radical subitist” theory of Buddhist soteriology as the authentic form of Zen practice. By so doing, he...

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Sŏn Master Daehaeng’s “Doing without Doing”

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pp. 227-242

Sŏn Master Daehaeng is one of the most influential Buddhist teachers in Korea today. As a traditional Buddhist nun in a patriarchal society, she founded a temple, Hanmaum Seon Center (K. Hanmaŭm sŏnwŏn), which has grown to 25 Korean and international branches, and has more than 30,000 families registered as members. In addition to being the teacher of over 150 ordained nuns and...

Part Three: Religion, History, and Politics

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Th e Japanese Missionaries and Their Impact on Korean Buddhist Developments (1876–1910)1

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pp. 245-274

This work deals with the interactions between the Japanese Buddhist missionaries and the Korean monkhood in the turbulent early modern period of Korean history, which began with the conclusion of Korea’s first “unequal” treaty with Japan in 1876 and ended with Japanese annexation of the whole country in 1910. As Korea was peripherized and increasingly drawn into Japan’s fledgling ...

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Minjung Buddhism: A Buddhist Critique of the Status Quo—Its History, Philosophy, and Critique

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pp. 275-314

In the dawn of October 27, 1980, the peace of the Buddhist headquarters and over three thousand monasteries throughout South Korea was broken at 6.00 a.m. by the forced entry of martial law troops. They arrested conservative leaders and abbots, fifty-five monks in all, investigated ninety-eight others, and detained ten monks and eight laymen. This operation continued over four days. Some ...

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Formation of Modern Buddhist Scholarship: Th e Cases of Pak Chonghong and Kim Tonghwa1

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pp. 315-330

With the collapse of the Chosŏn dynasty (1392–1910), during which Confucianism had been adopted as an overarching social system, anti-Buddhist policy began to make changes. Modern Korean Buddhism is generally regarded as having begun in 1895, the year marking the lifting of the measure prohibiting Buddhist monks...


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pp. 331-352

Glossary of East Asian Characters

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pp. 353-370


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pp. 371-374


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pp. 375-394

E-ISBN-13: 9781438429236
E-ISBN-10: 1438429231
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438429212
Print-ISBN-10: 1438429215

Page Count: 392
Illustrations: 1 table
Publication Year: 2009

Edition: 1
Series Title: SUNY series in Korean Studies