Buddhism in Korea

Buddhism is a one of the main religion in Korea and is being recognized by lots of people. Buddhism in Korea came from China and Central Asia in the late 4th century. Korean scholars of the Buddhist tradition put themselves together after Japanese scholars with correcting the evaluation of the Korean Buddhist tradition and came out to prove the uniqueness and originality of Buddhism in Korea.

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Korean Buddhism still has lots of untouched resources a can still be explored. Due to early ignorance of Buddhism in Korea misleading information was processed. Buddhism has encountered with different regional and historic specifics with modernity also including colonialism and communism.

Since the beginning of twentieth century, Korean Buddhism is facing challenge with its past and prospects of its future. In the mid-fifteenth century, nuns and monks were prohibited to enter the capital city which ended in 1895. Korean Buddhists had to go through 400 plus years until Korea started opening to the modern world. As they were going through this change they tried best to show the dignity of Korean Buddhism. With Japan ruling Korea in 1910, it started a 35-year colonial period. Colonialism is one of the aspects that Buddhism had to deal with then and its involvement with modernity in Asia. This period caused conflicting response of Korean Buddhism to Japanese Buddhism.

The reform minded Buddhists were trying to redefine Buddhism to make it get into modern social and culture life another form of renovation was going known as Seon/Zen revivalism. With these two reformations; Buddhist reformism and Seon revivalism led to pull Buddhism in two different directions with first one trying to take Buddhism culture in future and other trying to revive the past. Both were trying to redefine Buddhism but with different approach and focus. Seon wanted to bring back the Seon practice and training while Buddhist reformists advancing the religion report with society. To reinstate more rigorous Seon practice Seon revivalists started new Seon monastic regulations.

The beginning of modern period in Buddhism is commonly referred to 1895 where ban of monks’ and nuns’ to enter capital city was removed. Also a year after that Korea opened up to foreign power. The multi task of Korean Buddhism was to reestablish its status as religio-philosophhical system and showing relevance in modern society as well. Colonialism period between 1910 and 1945 was not easy to describe and was very complex. As Buddhism emerged from the experience of the Joseon dynasty it faced challenges of making it both socially viable and religiously significant (Park 1998, 75). By the late Goryeo dynasty Korean Buddhism was being accounting for using too much resources from the state thus putting a strain on the economy. So while the Josen dynasty was starting criticisms of Buddhism began regarding its moral and philosophical teachings. So while Buddhism was facing problems at that time it became a scattered religion. Even though Korean Buddhism was not at top of its power at the beginning of twentieth century it was resilient and did enough to work in the limits imposed.

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