[KS] Shin Chae-Ho and Daejonggyo

Kirk Larsen kwlarsen at gwu.edu
Wed Jul 26 11:12:14 EDT 2006

I have little doubt that Frank is correct in noting that regardless of
whether Sin Ch'ae-ho was interested in Taejonggyo, Taejonggyo adherents were
probably more than willing to claim association with Sin. 

A few years ago while hiking Mani-san, I stumbled onto a colony founded by
the Tandanhakhoe, a group that I believe has had a close relationship with
Teajonggyo. The group's main shrine hall was devoted to a fascinating
pantheon of figures beginning with Hwanung, Ch'i-u and Tan'gun but also
included an array of Korean historical figures such as Ûlchimundôk and, yes,
our friend Sin Ch'ae-ho.


Kirk W. Larsen
Korea Foundation Assistant Professor of
History and International Affairs
Co-director International Affairs Program
1957 E Street 503H
The George Washington University
Washington, DC 20052
(202) 994-5253
kwlarsen at gwu.edu

-----Original Message-----
From: koreanstudies-bounces at koreaweb.ws
[mailto:koreanstudies-bounces at koreaweb.ws] On Behalf Of Frank Hoffmann
Sent: Tuesday, July 25, 2006 2:54 PM
To: koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
Subject: Re: [KS] Shin Chae-Ho and Daejonggyo

Hello All:

My reply from last week to the original posting 
got lost -- maybe some Internet Pope didn't like 
the Tanjae Sin Ch'aeho quote about world 
religions and religious leaders -);  In short, 
Tanjae did not exactly have much respect of 
religious leaders, religions, or any religious 
cults as such -- I save the quote this time. As a 
journalist, writer, independence activist, and an 
anarchist turned former nationalist who was 
finally caught by Japanese authorities when 
trying to leave Taiwan to collect some funding 
for terrorist attacks, he had put nationalism 
pretty much behind him. And he never really 
touched religion in any way. His interest and 
writing about Tan'gun, as Brother Anthony pointed 
out, and as many historians have written about, 
was in direct reaction to colonial Japanese 
historiography and their claims of ancestry in 
East Asia. Looking at Japanese writings as well 
as Tanjae's writings, one also might want to look 
at what was going in in Europe since the late 
19th century. We know very well that Tanjae read 
a lot of French, Russian, and of course Chinese 
works -- he did after all reside in the Russian 
Far East and China. Notions about "Urvater" -- 
some ancient fatherly creator of a nation or 
tribe, and of tribal roots, tribal customs, and 
all this were very popular in Europe, at least in 
northern Europe. One has to consider that Hitler 
had not "happened" yet -- and the bitter taste 
that would later be associated with such 
extremely widespread ideas and movements (in 
literature, philosophy, the Fine Arts, nude "body 
culture," in architecture, etc.) wasn't there 
yet. Tanjae's writing of the 1900s and 1910s is 
perfectly 'seasonal' therefore -- the taste of 
the times, the Korean adaption of European trends 
and movements.

As the 'kyo' in Taejonggyo indicates, this is 
some cult (or call it religion) that is related 
to Tan'gun, its roots going back to the Tonghak 
Revolution/Uprising (your choice!). We can all 
imagine that Taejonggyo historians like to use 
and abuse any national hero they can find, but 
Tanjae had very clear thoughts and words about 
religions and cults. That in itself might not 
hinder Taejonggyo to associate with Tanjae, but 
Tanjae wasn't directly involved with Taejonggyo.

>(...)  claim that Danjae played a leading role 
>in formulating the 1918 ³Muo Declaration of 
>Independence.² But that was the work of the 
>Jung-gwang-dan, precisely part of the 
>Daejonggyo-inspired righteous army in Manjuria. 
>There, I believe, lies the main basis for 
>linking Danjae and Daejonggyo.

Long ago I published an article about the mentioned Muo Declaration:
"The Muo Declaration: History in the Making," 
_Korean Studies_ 13 (1989): 22-41  [includes a 
That article is already a kind of summary -- it 
is hard to summarize more. But very short, the 
TEXT of that declaration was *very* likely 
composed by Cho Soang, an extremely interesting 
intellectual figure also residing in Chinese 
exile. Although the Taejonggyo still claims that 
it was their leader Kim Kyohon (alias Kim Hon) 
that composed the text. But a comparative textual 
analysis as well as entries in diaries from 
leaders involved in it all give Cho So-ang as the 
author. later, in the 1920s, Cho acted as the 
Foreign Minister of the Korean Government in 
Exile, and he created his own political 
philosophy that he called Samgyunism -- a highly 
interesting merger of all the political movements 
at the time. As for Tanjae (who is also listed as 
a signer of the Muo Declaration), he is the 
author of yet another Independence declaration, 
the "Manifest of Korean Revolution" which he 
wrote for the Uiyoltan, and which was also 
published in Russian, French, Chinese, etc. The 
style, wording, and content are very different 
from that of the Muo Declartion.


Frank Hoffmann

More information about the Koreanstudies mailing list