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Introduction Han Yongun: From Social-Darwinism To Socialism With A Buddhist Face

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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter of the book titled Selected Writings of Han Yongun: From Social Darwinism to 'Socialism with a Buddhist Face' presents the first part of Han Yongun's life story as a perfect illustration of both the deepening crisis in social and political life during the last decades of Korea's Chosŏn Dynasty (1392-1910), and the deep ambiguities and uncertainties of the chaotic period of Korea's transition to modernity. Buddhism was both the religion of the liberal, egalitarian, modern present, and more than that the utopian 'great unity' of the future. The heightened popularity of socialism in 1920s Korea influenced the Buddhist community too. However, the socio-economic ethos of early Buddhism provided ample evidence for claims about the socialist nature of Buddha's teaching. On the Reformation of Korean Buddhism was mainly based on a Social Darwinism-tinged reading of contemporary capitalism as a society driven by the competition for profit.

Keywords: buddhist face; Han Yongun; reformation of Korean buddhism; Social Darwinism; socialism



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