Worldwide Locations

Worldwide Locations

Historical and Modern Religions of Korea

Praying with lanterns (lets.book/Flickr)

Praying with lanterns (lets.book/Flickr)



Confucianism
Confucianism was the moral and religious belief founded by Confucius inthe 6th century B.C. Basically it is a system of ethical percepts—benevolent love, righteousness, decorum and wise leadership—designed to inspire and preserve the good management of family and society.

Confucianism was a religion without a god like early Buddhism, but ages passed and the sage and principal disciplines were canonized by late followers.

Confucianism was introduced along with the earliest specimens of Chinese written materials around the beginning of the Christian era. The Three Kingdoms of Kogury, Paekche and Silla all left records that indicate the early existence of Confucian influence. In Kogury, a state university called T’aehak-kam was established in 372 and private Confucian academies were founded in the province. Paekche set up such institutions even earlier.

The Unified Silla sent delegations of scholars to Tang China to observe the workings of the Confucian institutions first hand and to bring back voluminous writings on the subjects. For Kory Dynasty in the 10th century, Buddhism was the state religion, and Confucianism formed the philosophical and structural backbone of the state. The civil service examination of kwag adopted after the Chinese system in the late 10th century, greatly encouraged studies in the Confucian classics and deeply implanted Confucian values in Korean minds.

The Choson Dynasty, which was established in 1392, accepted Confucianism as the official ideology and developed a Confucian systemof education, ceremony and civil administration. When Korea was invaded by many West European countries including Japan in the late 19th century, the Confucianists raised "righteous armies" to fight against the aggressor. Efforts were also made to reform Confucianism to adapt it to the changing conditions of the times.

These reformists accepted the new Western civilization and endeavored to establish a Modern Independence government. Also, during Japan's colonial rule of Korea, these reformists joined many independence movements to fight against imperial Japan. Today, Confucian ancestral worship is still prevalent and filial piety highly revered as a virtuein Korean society.