[KS] Kyujanggak Colloquium: Kim Hwansoo on Buddhist Lay Monk Villages

서울대학교 국제한국학센터 icks at snu.ac.kr
Fri Jun 15 02:25:08 EDT 2012

Dear list members,

You are cordially invited to the last Kyujanggak Colloquium in Korean Studies of the spring semester. Our speaker next Wednesday (rather than the usual Thursday) will be Prof. Hwansoo Kim (Duke University), whose talk is entitled:

"The Mystery of the Century": Buddhist Lay Monk Villages (Jaega-seung) near Korea's Northernmost Borderm 1600s to 1960s

Date: Wednesday, June 20, 4-6 PM
venue: Kyujanggak building, Seoul N'l University Campus

A Japanese newspaper editorial from 1930s colonial Korea characterized the isolated villages of married Buddhist monks spread across the northern border between Korea and China as the "mystery of the century." These lay monk villages (K. jaegaseung burak) existed from the seventeenth century until the 1960s. The males in these villages shaved their heads and had wives and children, and their households ranged in number from thousands to tens of thousands at their peak, These lay monks and their families comprised the descendents of the Jurchens.

In this presentation, based on previous scholarship and on untapped primary sources, I would like to take up two questions: First, how did these villagers come to take on a monastic identity? Second, how should we understand the history of these communities within the context of Korean Buddhism? While scholars conventionally understand the origin of this monstic identity as coincidental and inauthentic, I argue that Korean monks fleeing or or relocating as a result of Joseon Korea's anti-Buddhist policies perhaps contributed to the formation of a monastic identity of the males in these villages.
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