Confucianism in Korea

Topics: Family, Korea, Han Dynasty Pages: 7 (565 words) Published: September 23, 2013
Confucianism

Characteristics
1.
2.
3.

4.

Year of Introduction debatable. Generally assumed
to be around the 4th century.
Determined ethical values and social norms in
modern Korea
Worked as the most important and efficient system
for the governing of the nation
Neo-Confucian domination and Transformation of
the Korean Society during the Joseon Dynasty,
especially after the 17th century
1.
2.

Zhu Xi’s Synthetical Thought as State Ideology, covering all aspects of life
Philosophical Conception of man and the world: Innate
goodness of man, God

Fundamental Ethics


The moral and political requirements
1. Three Guiding Principles (San Gang 三綱)
2. Five Moral Relations (Wu Lun 五倫)
3. Five Constant Regulations (Wu Chang 五
常)

Three Guiding Principles
(San Gang 三綱)
1. The Subordination of a Subject or
Minister to his Ruler (君爲臣綱)
2. The Subordination of a Son to his
Father (父爲子綱)
3. The Subordination of a Wife to her
Husband (夫爲婦綱

Five Moral Relations
(Wu Lun 五倫)
1. 父子有親: Closeness between father and
son
2. 君臣有義: Righteousness between the ruler
and the subject
3. 夫婦有別: Differentiation between husband
and wife
4. 長幼有序: Hierarchy between the older and
the younger
5. 朋友有信: Trust between friends

Five Constant Regulations
(Wu Chang 五常)


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Constant and Unchanging as natural laws, remaining the
same for all time and guiding all other virtues

Humaneness (仁)
Righteousness (義)
Propriety (禮)
Wisdom (智)
Faithfulness (信)

Gender Issues
• Three Rules for Women
– Women must follow their fathers, husbands
and sons
– “女子有三從之道 在家從父 適人從夫 夫死從 子.“ (儀禮, 喪服傳)

7 Legitimate Reasons
for Divorcing a Wife
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

Disobedience to parents-in-law
Unable to give birth to a son
Unchastity
Jealousy
Having a serious disease
Being too talkative
Theft


From 大戴禮 (本命篇)

Three Exceptions
1. No place to return (none to depend upon)
2. Observed the three year mourning rite
3. Helped her poor husband to become rich


婦有七去, 不順舅姑去, 無子去, 淫去, 妬去, 有 惡疾去, 口多言去, 竊盜去. 又有三不去, 有所取 無所歸不去, 與共更三年喪不去, 前貧賤後富貴 不去.

• It is hard to understand that a husband
should divorce his wife when she could
not give birth to a son and had a
serious disease, for these two things
are not under human control.
• 小學, 明倫篇, 七去集解

Confucianism
Morality
Human
Nature

Modernity
Desire

Self-Control
Altruistic
Community

Consumption
Competition
Individualism
Science/Tech: tool
for satisfying desire
Law/Order: control
conflicting interests

Legacy on Modern Korea
1. Ethical Values





Hierachical (長幼有序)
Complicated Respected Words and
Expressions
Authoritarianism
Anti-Feministic values

2. Family-Oriented Culture
• Emphasis on Filial Piety
• Book of Family Tree and Membership to
the Clan Union
• Ancestor Ritual

3. Passion for Learning





Miracle of the Han River
Democratization and Confucianism
Publication
The pen mightier than the sword.

4. Saving Face Culture

Modern Debate on Confucianism
in Two Popular Korean Books
Prof. Kim Kyeong-Il
Prof. Choi Byeong-cheol
“Confucianism is like a Still valuable for Korea
fatal virus.”

Ancestor Rites

• Confucianism heavily emphasizes the correct
practice of ancestor rites
• The Book of Family Ritual: commemoration of
ancestors became primarily a responsibility of
eldest sons
• Filial piety is the highest virtue quintessentially
expressed in the veneration of ancestors

• Confined to the kinship group
– Confucius: “Sacrifice to spirits which are
not those of one’s own is mere flattery.”

• Played an indispensable role in
reinforcing the cohesion of family and
lineage

3 Main Ancestor Rites
1. Funeral Rites
2. The Mourning Observances
3. The Continuing Sacrifices to the Spirit
of the Deceased

Characteristics





Primarily a responsibility of eldest sons
Filial piety
Confined to the kinship...
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