[KS] Sin Ch'aeho and Taejonggyo

Michael Allen allenm at byuh.edu
Thu Aug 3 01:30:32 EDT 2006

Hi Richard (and anyone else interested),

I didn't reply to your original query because I am smack in the middle
of a major relocation (to Dubai), and simply didn't have time to make
the more extended response I would like to.   But the very short version
is that I have seen references to Sin Ch'aeho's reputed affiliation with
Taejonggyo in more than one Korean secondary source.  It is a highly
problematic claim, however, the deeper you delve into Sin's thinking,
and especially into the complex migrations in his thinking over time. 
(For all I know, the same may be true if you delve more deeply than I
have into Taejonggyo.)  As others have pointed out, however, it is not
difficult to see why adepts of Taejonggyo would be interested in
claiming Sin as one of their own--and the tendency may be even more
pronounced after 1971 (the date of the book you mentioned), when Sin's
own reputation in Korea received new life in the name of a new Park-era

I discuss this a bit in the book I am finishing, but unfortunately for
the current discussion most of my material is in boxes right now, making
the move ahead of me.  Stay tuned . . .

Michael Allen

>>> rick_mcbride17 at hotmail.com 07/28/06 12:08 PM >>>
I would like the thank the participants for their stimulating discussion
my question regarding the relationship between Sin Ch'aeho and
Let me explain here the background behind my asking the question, which
add a further level of complexity to the issues that have been

One of the referrees of my article titled "Silla Buddhism and the
segi Manuscripts," which will be published in Korean Studies 31 
(forthcoming, 2007) introduced me to an interesting source:  Taejonggyo 
ChonggyOng Chongsa PyOnsu WiwOnhoe, ed.  <<Taejonggyo chunggwang 
yuksimnyOnsa>> (Seoul:  Taejonggyo Chongbonsa, 1971 [Tan'gi 4428]).

This 60 year history of Taejonggyo is interesting because it contains a 
biography of Pak Ch'anghwa (1889/1895-1962), the reputed author/copyist
the Hwarang segi manuscripts on pages 865-867.    Pak Ch'anghwa is
said to have been born in 1889 but this biographical account says he was

born in 1895.  It refers to his working for the Japanese government in
1930s and early 1940s and records his death in 1962.  Most importantly
says that he joined Taejonggyo in 1949.   No Korean source on the
segi manuscripts mentions Pak's affiliation with Taejonggyo.  When I 
attended the "Iryon and the Samguk yusa" conference sponsored by the 
Iryonhak Yon'guwon and the Academy of Korean Studies last week, my 
colleagues in Silla history were impressed by this information--they had

never known such a connection existed.

In pointing out this source, the referee indicated that Pak's
with Taejonggyo hints at some important things:  "[I]t is not fully 
implausible that he may have cherished an interest for this nationalist 
religion already in the colonial days.  However, unlike such 
Taejonggyo-affiliated historians as famous Sin Ch'aeho, Pak emphasized 
Silla, and not KoguryO, as the Korean nation's presumed 'spiritual
  The referee went on to encourage me to provide additional biographical

information on Pak Ch'anhwa.  I did not do it in this paper but plan to 
spend much more time on this in another article I have in progress on
significance of the Hwarang segi manuscripts.

This is the reason for my inquiry about Sin Ch'aeho and Taejonggyo. 
read some of Sin's works, such as his biography of Ulchi MundOk--but I
heard of his affiliation with Taejonggyo before.  It appears that Sin's 
connections to Taejonggyo are problematic indeed.  In perusing the more
1000 page (handwritten) Taejonggyo history I did not find any
listing for Sin Ch'aeho--so at least in 1971, Taejonggyo did not claim
as a member or adept.  Then again, since there is no index I have not 
exhausted the information in this book.  However, many of you have
compelling reasons why Taejonggyo adepts may have been influenced by

Richard McBride
Post-doctoral Fellow in Korean Studies and Buddhist Studies
Washington University in St. Louis

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