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Religions of Korea in Practice

From the publisher’s website:

Korea has one of the most diverse religious cultures in the world today, with a range and breadth of religious practice virtually unrivaled by any other country. This volume in the Princeton Readings in Religions series is the first anthology in any language, including Korean, to bring together a comprehensive set of original sources covering the whole gamut of religious practice in both premodern and contemporary Korea.

The book’s thirty-two chapters help redress the dearth of source materials on Korean religions in Western languages. Coverage includes shamanic rituals for the dead and songs to quiet fussy newborns; Buddhist meditative practices and exorcisms; Confucian geomancy and ancestor rites; contemporary Catholic liturgy; Protestant devotional practices; internal alchemy training in new Korean religions; and North Korean Juche (“self-reliance”) ideology, an amalgam of Marxism and Neo-Confucian filial piety focused on worship of the “father,” Kim Il Sung.

Religions of Korea in Practice provides substantial coverage of contemporary Korean religious practice, especially the various Christian denominations and new indigenous religions. Each chapter includes an extensive translation of original sources on Korean religious practice, accompanied by an introduction that frames the significance of the selections and offers suggestions for further reading. This book will help any reader gain a better appreciation of the rich complexity of Korea’s religious culture.

Robert E. Buswell Jr. is Professor and former Chair of Asian Languages & Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles, and founding director of the university’s Center for Buddhist Studies and Center for Korean Studies. He is the author of The Zen Monastic Experience: Buddhist Practice in Contemporary Korea (Princeton), and editor in chief of The Encyclopedia of Buddhism.

Table of contents

Introduction | Don Baker


  1. King Mu and the Making and Meanings of Miruksa | Jonathan W Best
  2. Won’gwang and Chajang in the Formation of Early Silla Buddhism | Panhaj N. Mohan
  3. A Miraculous Tale of Buddhist Practice during the Unified Silla | Richard D. McBride II
  4. Buddhism as a Cure for the Land | Sem Vermeersch
  5. The P’algwanhoe: From Buddhist Penance to Religious Festival | Sem Vermeersch
  6. Hell and Other Karmic Consequences: A Buddhist Vernacular Song | Younghee Lee
  7. A Buddhist Rite of Exorcism | Patrick R. Uhlmann
  8. “A Crazy Drunken Monk”: Kyongho and Modern Buddhist Meditation Practice | Jin Y. Park
  9. Educating Unborn Children: A Son Master’s Teachings on T’aegyo | Chong Go Sunim

Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism

  1. A Party for the Spirits: Ritual Practice in Confucianism | Honghyung Kim
  2. The Great Confucian-Buddhist Debate | Charles Muller
  3. Confucianism and the Practice of Geomancy | Hong-key Yoon
  4. Voices of Female Confucians in Late ChosOn Korea | Youngmin Kim


  1. Yi Kyubo’s “Lay of the Old Shaman” | Richard D. McBride II
  2. The Creation of the World and Human Suffering | Boudewijn Walraven
  3. Sending Away the Smallpox Gods | Antonetta Lucia Bruno
  4. Village Deities of Cheju Island | Boudewijn Walraven
  5. Shamans, the Family, and Women | Boudewijn Walraven
  6. A Shamanic Ritual for Sending On the Dead | Antonetta Lucia Bruno


  1. Martyrdom and Social Activism. The Korean Practice of Catholicism | Inshil Choe Yoon
  2. Catholic Rites and Liturgy | Franklin Rausch and Don Baker
  3. Conversion Narratives in Korean Evangelicalism | Timothy S. Lee
  4. A New Moral Order: Gender Equality in Korean Christianity | Hyaeweol Choi
  5. Indigenized Devotional Practices in Korean Evangelicalism | Timothy S. Lee
  6. The Grieving Rite: A Protestant Response to Confucian Ancestral Rituals | James Huntley Grayson

New Religions

  1. The Great Transformation: Religious Practice in Ch’ondogyo | Don Baker
  2. The Korean God Is Not the Christian God: Taejonggyo’s Challenge to Foreign Religions | Don Baker
  3. The Won Buddhist Practice of the Buddha-Nature | Jin Y. Park
  4. Renewing Heaven and Earth: Spiritual Discipline in Chtingsan’gyo | Don Baker
  5. Rites of Passage in the Unification Church | Don Baker
  6. Internal Alchemy in the Dahn World School | Don Baker

North Korea

  1. The Sociopolitical Organism: The Religious Dimensions of Juche Philosophy | Eun Hee Shin

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