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East and Southeast AsiaKorea

The impact of Chinese religion was felt with full force in both Korea and Japan. Korea was under direct Chinese rule from 193 to 37 B.C.E. with an influence that persisted for centuries. Monks such as Wonhyo (617–686) and Uisang (625–702) were crucial to the establishment of Buddhism in Korea. In particular, Uisang had a reciprocal relationship on the Chinese Huayan (Flower Garland) monk Fazang. Korean shamanism blended with both Confucianism and Buddhism. Smart writes:

Korean thinkers also made important contributions to the debates of the Neo-Confucian tradition, especially in the sixteenth century, through the writings of Yi T'oegye and Yi Yulgok. The former developed the thinking of Zhuxi arguing that the priority of principle to material force as ethical rather than ontological. Yi Yulgok argued for the determining character of material force and he objected to the notion that li [principle] is always unchanging and pure, since it and material force are correlatives. (p. 133)

These strongly ingrained traditional Confucian positions of the classical world were juxtaposed to the modern world with the Japanese invasion and the onslaught of Christian missionaries. During the Choson dynasty (seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) Korean Confucianism forbade Buddhism from entering the capital city, while the Korean court frowned upon Catholicism. After the Korean-Japanese treaty of 1876, Japanese Pure Land Buddhism and Nichiren came to Korea. The Japanese occupation of Korea in 1910 greatly altered the sense of traditional religions. Smart sees a division between "individualistic religions" such as Son (Zen) Buddhism and Protestantism on one hand and traditional Confucianism on the other. A resulting political split would follow: individual religions tended toward democracy and traditional religions tended toward military dictatorship. Smart also sees this as a way of understanding the fracture between North Korea (traditional) and South Korea (individualistic).

With the popularity of evangelical Protestantism, South Korea saw the rise of Sun Myung Moon in 1954. Smart writes of the Unification Church:

Its tenets involve a reinterpretation of the Bible; loyalty to Mr. Moon as possibly—that is, if he fulfills his destiny—the new Messiah; a new system of marriage designed to unite members in a large Family of which Mr. Moon and his wife are the True Parents; and the hope of unifying the world and the world's religions in a single harmony (in combat however with Communism, which is seen as the present chief manifestation of evil in the world). (pp. 453–454)

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Reason to RetrovirusReligion - East and Southeast Asia - The Daoist Yin-yang, Three Teachings Are One, Modern China, Korea, Japan