The Chosŏn dynasty is said to have been a period of venerating Confucianism and persecuting Buddhism. So long has the period been so considered that when Chosŏn Buddhism is talked about, it never fails to include mention of its waning and ailing situation throughout the period. However, if we consider the Korean temples of our day, which display classic Chosŏn style, not only in terms of tangible cultural properties such as paintings and statues, but also intangible ones such as music, chanting, and ritual, I claim that Buddhism, though stressed, continued to develop steadily during the Chosŏn dynasty, at least to such an extent that it could influence contemporary Korean Buddhism. This study focuses on of the engines of this development within the sach’algye (寺刹契, temple fraternity). These arose in response to the persecution that lasted throughout the Chosŏn dynasty and caused the demise of many Buddhist temples due to economic hardship. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a variety of temple fraternities came into existence and prospered throughout the country. In turn, these groups enabled temples to revive their religious and economic influence in society. Temple fraternities were organized in order to promote a pious faith in Buddhism, infuse the disciplinary mind of Buddhism into their members, and further aid temples by augmenting temple properties, restoring buildings, and providing necessities for religious ceremonies. Historical documents can verify 268 recorded temple fraternities. Each was aimed at providing a particular form of Buddhist service work (佛事, pulsa) and they fit into seven different groups.


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