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Donghak's humanistic egalitarianism

16 0 32
06.12.2021
By Choe Chong-dae

I recently read "Donggyeong-Daejeon" (The Great Scripture of Eastern Learning) vol. 1, "I am Korean," and vol. 2, "We are haneu-nim" (meaning "god" for the Donghak, or "Eastern Learning," philosophy), with great enthusiasm. The two volumes were written by Dr. Do-ol Yong-ok Kim, a popular Korean philosopher.

"Donghak" (Eastern Learning), referred to by some as Korea's first and most influential indigenous, modern religion, was a school of thought and movement that called for equality, justice and social reform to benefit the oppressed, while opposing the corrupt and unjust late Joseon Kingdom. Donghak, which later became "Cheondo-gyo" (Religion of the Heavenly Way), was established by Choe Je-u (1824-1864) in 1860 in Gyeongju. He was a disenfranchised and disillusioned scholar-aristocrat who was better known by his pen name, Su-un.

Similar to Socrates' teaching that "all human beings are equal in the most fundamental sense," the basic beliefs of the Donghak philosophy promote humanistic egalitarianism and oppose any form of discrimination. This revolutionary religious and social worldview provided a........

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