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This article is closed for comments. Please Email the Editor. Less well known is the cooperation between Kang and several Korean Confucian modernizers. Using the new category recently imported from the West, these early twentieth-century reformers believed that in order to survive, Confucianism had to become a modern "religion" modeled on Christianity.
By the mid-twentieth century, Chinese Kongjiao activists were pushed out of communist China and established their base in Hong Kong, whereas the Korean movement died out completely, mainly because it was criticized by conservative [End Page 61] Confucians for its imitation of the West and its Japanese patronage. During the remainder of the century, Confucianism in Korea went through a gradual decline and retreat from the public sphere.
Shin Gi-wook , —31 presents a statistical analysis of textbook and magazine content from that period, illustrating how traditional moralistic material gradually lost its centrality. National surveys show that the overall number of self-identified Confucians in the country decreased from , in , to , in , and a mere , in By the s, observers noted that Confucianism was barely visible in the Korean public sphere.
Not a word referred to it in the constitution or in the school curricula, most ancient Confucian schools were practically deserted, and it persisted only in simplified family memorials, maintaining genealogies, and social ethics Koh Byong-ik Gallup surveys show significant decreases between the mids and the early s in the percentages of Koreans agreeing on the importance of [End Page 62] male family leadership, gender role difference, and even filial piety.
If making Confucianism into a full-fledged religion did not turn out to be a very effective survival strategy in early twentieth-century Korea, I believe that packaging it as "culture" today is proving to be a real success. Confucianism, to be sure, is a comprehensive, multi-semantic system that encapsulates various, sometimes conflicting, categorical possibilities of social meanings and practical manifestations.
It was recently illustrated, for instance, how Confucianism was at times conceived in the history of Japan as representing the literature and the arts, and at other times connoting science and technology; at times symbolizing collective fascism, and at other times suggesting liberalism and even ultra-individualism Paramore In fact, culturizing Confucianism has become explicit government policy on the peninsula when in a research foundation operating under the Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism clarified that it was:.
Culture is somewhat of a friendly category.
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It is not as strict or demanding as religion or philosophy, not as specialized as science or literature, and it is certainly not as sensitive as race or ethnicity. It allows casual participation by large numbers of people and does not claim exclusive commitment. As culture, Confucianism can also be openly promoted by secular governments, which are not expected to sponsor religious organizations. This cultural rhetoric has been internalized to such an extent that almost everyone in Korea today seems to agree that Confucianism is, in fact, just culture , and this also seems to be the stance of many of the members of the Korean Confucian Association which is, ironically, still registered as a religious organization.
Confucianism has been repeatedly attacked when it was still a religion or a philosophy, but now that it is culture, it is displayed as a source of national pride. The current institutional revival of Confucianism in Korea builds on a longstanding infrastructure of shrine-schools that has been developed since the [End Page 63] twelfth century. In King Injong r. The curriculums of these schools were based on the Confucian classics and each institution had a small shrine for rituals.
The majority of these programs were short decorum courses catering to children, the rest being more advanced adult classes on the classics or in the traditional arts. A more substantial resurgence, however, took place only in the s, as this initial grassroots movement was gradually enhanced by centralized planning and resource allocation. An analysis of several semi-scholarly reports subsidized by the Korean Ministry of Culture between the years and demonstrates a general agreement on the need to promote the creation of additional Confucian decorum classes, develop welfare agendas, host folk festivals, and establish libraries, archives, and exhibitions in the various hyanggyo Munhwa ch'eyuk kwan'gwangbu ; Kim Much of this is already taking place.
All of the two dozen Confucian schools I visited in and have either established new educational programs in the last decade or exhibited significant increase in course variation and student numbers. To cite just one example—Andong hyanggyo , long regarded as a central hub of Confucianism in Korea—has had both its number of courses and students doubled since it was re-built in , finally replacing the old school which was burned down during the Korean War.
Three of the hyanggyo I surveyed set up soup kitchens and distributed free lunches, three operated annual classical texts chanting festivals, and two added meditation to their programs and health classes for the elderly. Several others ran special weekend courses for socializing foreign spouses, whose number greatly increased in recent years in the Korean countryside, in Korean Confucian decorum. The majority of the revived hyanggyo offer at least day-long decorum programs for visiting elementary school students from the vicinity, and some operate longer two-to-six-day decorum camps.
There is some variety in the contents of such programs, but in general most [End Page 64] focus on learning how to bow correctly in family rituals and in daily life see Figure 1 , how to behave correctly in hyanggyo , and more general exhortations to be filial, organized, and study hard. Some involve traditional tea ceremonies, traditional games and crafts, folk stories, writing grateful letters to one's parents, and the study of propriety from the Four-Character Elementary Learning. Touristic folk villages have also recently begun to administer such Confucian decorum summer and winter camps for children.
I participated in some of these programs and found it quite impressive that after just a few hours of bowing and repeating moral adages from the texts, the kids seemed to sit straighter and behave more quietly and maturely all on their own. The revival shifted gears following the return of the conservative party to power in , with the legislation of a new state law and the creation of two nationally organized and funded Confucian school programs.
These offer free semester-long lectures on Confucian history, poetry, and classical texts, taught by university professors. By early these academies were housed in thirty-one different hyanggyo. Furthermore, in the Ministry appropriated 1. Individual institutions were invited to apply for funding based on the development of original educational, cultural, musical, or ritual agendas, and thirty-eight were selected. The following year 2. Half of these institutions offered two-to-three-day decorum camps for children, others developed various new courses on Confucian texts some using the historical Confucian degree-titles for these course, i.
In addition, the Seoul Metropolitan Government decided to initiate an intriguing, free-of-charge, Confucian Sunday-school experiment in twenty-six of its public libraries. The project, which began in , proved to be quite successful and classes filled up quickly. The participating kids changed into traditional scholars' clothes and hats before class, and each meeting was dedicated to reading, copying, and explaining one passage taken from the Analects, The Mencius, The Great Learning, or the Four-Character Elementary Learning see Figure 2.
The common threads of Confucianism and Islam
The offices of the Central Confucian Assembly and the national shrine are still housed in the vicinity of the now secularized Sungkyunkwan University. We have seen the sharp decrease in self-identified Confucians at the end of the twentieth century, but if we are to believe the numbers provided by the central offices, membership in the various local Confucian Assemblies increased threefold to reach approximately , as of early Aside from educational programs, Confucian public rituals have also been restored, modernized, and popularized in recent years.
After independence, in these halls went through a nationalistic reconstruction, in which many of the enshrined Chinese masters were replaced by Korean scholars. The Book of Rites explains, rather bombastically, that these ceremonies should be performed in order to maintain the synchronization of the entire cosmic world Ing , 7 and 25 , but nowadays they seem to function mainly as opportunities for local members of the assembly to have a drink and socialize.
More significantly, many of the hyanggyo today attempt to creatively reinvent and popularize some of the ancient Confucian rites-of-passage. In addition, many of the hyanggyo are now offering their services as wedding halls, reviving the ceremonies, to some extent, according to the Confucian style found in Zhu Xi's Family Rituals. Now that the general characteristics of the institutional revival of public educational and ritual Confucianism in contemporary Korea have been delineated, it is time to take a closer look at the activities of one of the schools.
Its old structures were massively reconstructed in the s, augmented by a new cafeteria and lecture hall in , an office building in , and a dormitory capable of housing visitors in The lovely setting is perfect for the "traditional" Confucian weddings which now take place there almost every weekend. It is one of the few hyanggyo in Korea that runs its own affiliated kindergarten.
Next to the kindergarten, young couples visit the new "ritual-counseling office" and receive instructions on the correct Confucian procedures for conducting funerary and memorial rites for their parents. Free lunch is provided to the mostly-elderly neighborhood community by young female volunteers and part-timers.
Other volunteers show the occasional tourist around, and explain correct behavioral decorum in the hyanggyo. After all, tourists, too, should respect the sacredness of the site: step in from the right gate, step out from the left, and bow respectfully in front of the main shrine. Twice a month, the parking lot fills with cars and the grounds bustle with commotion as at least half of the members of the local Confucian Assembly gather in front of the Hall of Great Accomplishment for the Sangmang memorials.
Classrooms of students from nearby public schools are habitually brought in to sit in the back and hesitantly join the bowing. The head of this hyanggyo explains that they are trying to get the youth as involved in the rites as possible, and since the late s they have also begun organizing Adulthood Ceremonies once a year in local high school [End Page 69] auditoriums.
A new ritual scenario was created for this event based on the old capping rite, in which five nineteen-year-old-boys and five nineteen-year-old-girls are selected to perform a complicated ritual that involves symbolically changing into adult clothes, bowing, receiving adult names, and drinking a cup of soju boys or tea girls ceremoniously in front of their peers. The Sangmangje is a simple, short ritual. Straw mats are laid on the ground in front of the hall and participants take their seats.
A dozen officiators change into traditional garb and enter the hall to uncover the tablets, bow down, light incense, and chant a prayer praising Confucius. These procedures last for about thirty minutes, and afterwards all are invited to join a public lecture on Confucianism given by a visiting scholar. During one of my visits, the lecture was replaced by the inauguration ceremony for the new head of the local Confucian Assembly. In an interesting speech, the new leader revealed that he previously attended Christian churches and Buddhist temples but did not really "feel it," and finally, only upon coming to the hyanggyo and immersing himself in Confucian culture, he felt that his mind turned calm and joyful.
Although labeling it in inclusive terms as traditional culture, most registered Confucians seem to similarly sport an exclusivist perspective towards other religions, and typically shun visiting Buddhist temples and Christian churches and refrain from participating in their rituals. Calligraphy and Chinese-character classes were supplemented in with a "Confucian University" offering yearly courses in the Confucian classics. Taking advantage of governmental funding, the school also offers a variety of free children's decorum programs. They begin with a tour of the hyanggyo , in which the children gather in front of the main hall and chant together a short "prayer," worth quoting here in its entirety:.
Moreover, [we wish to] push back the strong waves of industrialization and globalization, and continuously pass down and develop our unique [End Page 70] beautiful virtues in order to re-establish the Eastern Country of Ritual Propriety, which is based on humanism and the search for a proper life. Let us create a warm country overflowing with love, a reliable country led by justice, a country to be grateful for, in which pain is shared. This distinct cocktail of Confucian ideals, nationalism, and moral regeneration, baring unmistakable similarities to the kind of Confucian cultural nationalism that is allegedly emerging in contemporary China, is, thus, explicitly propagated to Korean children today via some of the decorum programs.
http://www.balterrainternacional.com/wp-content/2019-04-01/615.php The full schedule of this particular decorum camp is depicted in Table 1.
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