Emerging Engaged Buddhism in South Korea
Andrew Arnold will present on the recent emergence of “Engaged Buddhism” in Korea. In a creative research endeavor, Andrew will use the medium of film to portray his research on the movement here in Korea. Starting with the work of Vietnamese monk and peace activist Thích Nhất Hạnh, a new wave of Engaged Buddhism has inspired Buddhist monastics to take more socially and environmentally active roles in communities across Asia. Despite their long history of seclusion and remote religious practice in the mountains, Korean Buddhist monks and nuns have begun to follow this worldwide trend, reentering the political and social arena to stand up for the moral and ethical precepts of their religion. Due to its particularly strong institution in Korea, Korean Buddhism has become a focal point of Engaged Buddhism.
At the forefront of this movement in Korea, three monastics have taken leadership in different aspects of society; Jiyul sunim, Dobeop sunim, and Pomnyun sunim. Each of these individuals approached their environmental and social activism differently, yet all three adhere to their traditional Buddhists beliefs, speaking to a new dynamic in the relationships between society, politics, and religion in Korea today. Andrew Arnold is recording his investigation through the creation of a documentary composed of various interviews and dialogues with various members and organizations within the Korean Buddhist community. Using this lens, Andrew examines the actions of these prominent individuals through their words and will share his understanding of their work.
This presentation marks the completion of Jacob Reidhead’s MA thesis at the University of Washington wherein he compares the origins of economic reform in Asia’s socialist economies: China, Vietnam, and North Korea.