[KS] Religious terms

Frank Hoffmann hoffmann at koreaweb.ws
Sat Jan 16 23:29:01 EST 2010

Quote, Brother Anthony:

>I have just been translating a fun story by Shin 
>Chae-Ho about 2 dragons and God where God is 
>called Sangje which is not only the oldest and 
>most common Chinese name (Shangdi) for what most 
>people mean by 'God'   but is also said  (by 
>Naver) to have been used by the earliest 
>Catholic missionaries in China. Can anyone tell 
>me if it was ever used by any Christian missions 
>in Korea? It is still used by some Chinese 
>Protestants, while others prefer Shen and in 
>Korea is the name used for the God of the 

Delighted to see a Man of Christ classifying Sin 
Ch'ae-ho's Terroristic Anarchist story as "fun 
story" -- but YES, agreed, it sure is a fun story 
to read. :) (I appreciate your humor.) Sin wrote 
it in Beijing in 1928 and signed with one of his 
many pseudonyms, Yônsi'mongin (Beijing Dreamer), 
short before being caught by the Japanese 
authorities in May of the same year on his 
passage to Taiwan, having 12,000 Yuan in 
counterfeit foreign bills with him to establish a 
bomb manufactory. The story was probably never 
published in Korean -- not until the North 
Koreans published it in 1966 in a Han'gûl 
version. Or if it was published, then most likely 
in China, and probably in a Chinese language 
version. This is important when discussing Sin's 
use of sangje / shangdi. In my own 1995 German 
translation (online here: 
http://koreaweb.ws/sinchaeho/) of this story I 
used "Himmlischer Vater" ("Heavenly Lord"), which 
is intentionally more ambivalent, addressing 
Christianity as well as Chinese religious 
thought. In the 1920s Sin was closely associated 
with Chinese anarchists such as Li Shizeng, Cai 
Yuanpei, and even Ba Jin (I have sources for the 
relation to Ba) -- was also a member of the Union 
of Korean Anarchists in China (Chae Chunggug 
Chosôn Mujôngbujuûija Yônmaeng). But most 
documents indicate that he was more active within 
Chinese circles since the mid-1920s (under many 
different pseudonyms), which included 
journalistic activities in Chinese language 
publications. His _Yonggwa yongûi tae'gyôkchôn_ 
is by all means in all ideological aspects the 
most evolved literary example of Terroistic 
Anarchism that one can find in both Chinese and 
Korean literature. It targets, among other 
things, religion per se. Sangje or shangdi does 
therefore not only refer to Christianity, 
although he does of course have clear references 
to Jesus and figures and stories from the Bible. 
He does not miss his chance to clarify early on 
that Confucius and Buddha are nothing but thieves 
and suppressors as well. Sangje or shangdi really 
just gives him a face for the hierarchical system 
of suppression and abuse through religions, all 
religions. And again, Sin might well have written 
the story first in Chinese with a young Chinese 
readership in mind -- that at least would fit 
into his working environment during the second 
half of the 1920s. One should also not 
underestimate Sin's literacy: by the 1920s he had 
read all the French, Russian, and German 
communists and anarchists, and most likely also 
excerpts of Max Weber on religion. Whatever his 
choice of vocabulary at the time, it was not 
informed by Korean sources anymore but was truly 
up-to-date and international.

Best wishes,

Frank Hoffmann

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