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SOAS seminar: Remembering a dissident Confucian Monk

This is a seminar I’m particularly looking forward to, as I’ve been interested in the story of King Danjong since I came across the burial site of his placenta a few years ago.

Remembering a dissident Confucian Monk: How Kim Sisŭp became Sŏlcham, and Sŏlcham the Boyi of Korea

Kim SiseupDr Dennis Wuerthner (Ruhr-University Bochum)
Friday 22 March 2019Time: 5:15 PM – 7:00 PM
Venue: Brunei Gallery Room B104
Registration required via SOAS website


Throughout the Chosŏn dynasty, few other figures were as much associated with dissent and protest against ruling powers as Kim Sisŭp (1435-1493), one of the towering intellectuals of fifteenth century Korea. A child prodigy, he was predicted a bright official future, but in reaction to the usurpation of the throne by Prince Suyang and the forced abdication of King Tanjong (r. 1452-1455), Kim Sisŭp became a prominent dissident who placed himself in open opposition to King Sejo (r. 1455-1468) and his government. Following the coup d’état of 1455, Kim Sisŭp withdrew from the Confucian society and chose to become a wayfaring Buddhist monk under the dharma–name of Sŏlcham. In later centuries, his dissent and extraordinary dissidence was frequently debated at court and discussed by prominent Confucians literati, and there was a broad campaign to reintegrate this rebellious Buddho-Confucian figure into an official Confucian realm. In this lecture I mean to analyse the way in which Sŏlcham Kim Sisŭp expressed his dissent, and discuss the evaluation, remembrance and utilization of his specific form of protest during later centuries.

Speaker Biography

Dr Dennis Wuerthner is a researcher and lecturer at the Korean Studies Institute of Ruhr University Bochum, Germany. He studies and translates premodern and contemporary Korean literature, and has published the book A study of hypertexts of Kuunmong 九雲夢, focusing on Kuullu 九雲樓 / Kuun’gi 九雲記 (Frankfurt a. M.: Peter Lang, 2017).

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