[KS] Sin Ch'aeho and Taejonggyo

Richard McBride rick_mcbride17 at hotmail.com
Fri Jul 28 11:34:55 EDT 2006

I would like the thank the participants for their stimulating discussion of 
my question regarding the relationship between Sin Ch'aeho and Taejonggyo.  
Let me explain here the background behind my asking the question, which may 
add a further level of complexity to the issues that have been discussed.

One of the referrees of my article titled "Silla Buddhism and the Hwarang 
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 of 
the Hwarang segi manuscripts on pages 865-867.    Pak Ch'anghwa is usually 
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 the 
1930s and early 1940s and records his death in 1962.  Most importantly it 
says that he joined Taejonggyo in 1949.   No Korean source on the Hwarang 
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 affiliation 
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 origin.'" 
  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 the 
significance of the Hwarang segi manuscripts.

This is the reason for my inquiry about Sin Ch'aeho and Taejonggyo.  I've 
read some of Sin's works, such as his biography of Ulchi MundOk--but I never 
heard of his affiliation with Taejonggyo before.  It appears that Sin's 
connections to Taejonggyo are problematic indeed.  In perusing the more than 
1000 page (handwritten) Taejonggyo history I did not find any biographical 
listing for Sin Ch'aeho--so at least in 1971, Taejonggyo did not claim him 
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 suggested 
compelling reasons why Taejonggyo adepts may have been influenced by him.

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

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