Religious Culture in Korea the Term Paper

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Confucianism promotes the "ideal of the scholar, who cultivates virtue in oneself and shares it through service in government, teaching, and daily life," Canda explains on page 1. The pure idea of Confucianism is to benefit all the citizens and those benefits have a ripple effect starting with the individual, through the family, and out to the Korean society and then the world (Canda, p. 1).

Confucianism has had an influence on many spiritual and physical Asian-based traditions; for example, Confucianism had a big influence on the development of martial arts, acupuncture, and meditation, according to Canda.

Shamanism: There are about 300 shamanistic temples within an hour of the capital of Seoul, according to an article in the New York Times (Sang-Hun, 2007, p. 1). The article points out that shamanism is presently enjoying a renaissance after "centuries of ridicule and persecution"; indeed, shamans were "demonized by Christian missionaries and driven underground during the Japanese occupation" Sang-Hun, p. 2). Moreover, there are now more than 300,000 shamans in South Korea, Sang-Hun asserts. Korean shamanism is rooted in "ancient indigenous beliefs" that many folk religions still hold true to; members of this faith believe that the air is "thick with spirits, including those of dead relatives, and a fox in the hills behind a village," Sang-Hun explains (p. 1). What is interesting is there are about 273 categories of "gods" that are prayed to by Korean shamans; among those, Jesus Christ and Gen. Douglas MacArthur (Sang-Hun, p. 2).

Chondogyo: There are an estimated one and a half million believers in Chondogyo in South Korea, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Chondogyo is actually linked to the ancient system of Hwarangdo, "or the ideal way of life" that was developed during the Shilla dynasty, a way of life that espoused the principles of "chivalry and patriotism" (Beaver, 2010). Reportedly Hwarangdo blended the virtues of Confucianism with the Buddhist "reverence for all living things," Beaver writes.

Buddhism: Buddhism has a powerful history in Korea; during the Unified Shilla Period (668 a.D.) the Buddhists brought "social harmony" to the peninsula; later, Buddhist monks let the people against the Japanese in the 16th Century. The form of Buddhism that is practiced in Korea is Bodhisattva, which extols the six perfections: Generosity, Good Conduct, Vigor, Patience, Meditation and Wisdom ( When Buddhism was first introduced to Korea from China (372), the indigenous religion in Korea was shamanism. A "natural blend" was created between Shamanism and Buddhism (based on the belief that "human beings and natural forces and inanimate objects all possess spirits").

Unification Church: The Church rejects the Christian concept of the Trinity and instead they believe that God has within "himself" both male (positive) and female (negative) components, and they exist in "perfect harmony" (Religious Tolerance). Also, Hell exists on earth, and prior to Adam and Eve being married Eve had an affair with Lucifer that represented the "spiritual fall of man," the church believes. The largest congregation of "Moonies" resides in Korea, although there are hundreds of thousands throughout the world (Religious Tolerance).

Kimilsungism: this is reportedly the ideology of Kim Il Sung, dictator of communist North Korea. According to Seong-Chang Cheong, Kimilsungism can be broken down into three stages. One, Kim Il Sung learned about Marxism-Leninism in the 1930s when he was involved in an anti-Japanese war in Manchuria. Two, when Kim Il Sung was in the U.S.S.R. from 1940 to 1945 he was trained in military matters by Soviet officers and learned "the basics of Stalinist communism and the theory of modern warfare" (Cheong, 2000, p. 135). The third phase of Kimilsungism took place between 1945 and 1953 when Kim Il Sung worked hard to embrace Stalinist (using Soviet Military people to train him) through the Soviet Embassy in Pyongyang (Cheong, p. 136).

Works Cited

Beaver, R. Pierce. "Chondogyo and Korea." Journal of the American Academy of Religion.

XXX.2, 115-122.

Buddhism Today. Buddhism in Korea. Retrieved Dec. 6, 2010, from (1997).

Buswell, Robert E., and Lee, Timothy S. Christianity in Korea. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press, 2007.

Canda, Edward R. "Confucianism in Korea." Kansas University. Retrieved Dec. 6, 2010, from (2008).

Cheong, Seong-Chang. "Stalinism and Kimilsungism: A Comparative Analysis of Ideology

And Power. Asian Perspective, 24.1 (2000): 133-161.

Clark, Donald N. Culture and Customer of Korea. Santa Barbara,…[continue]

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