ASIA 377 – History of Korean Thought

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Winter 2017
No ASIA course(s) were found for W2017 term.


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A panorama of the Chongmyo (宗廟) Confucian shrine in Seoul, where the spirit tablets of the deceased kings and queens of the Chosŏn dynasty are held. The shrine still hosts the ancestral rite of the royal family twice a year.

Understanding the quickly-shifting religious landscape of East-Asia is important for anyone who interacts with the region or studies it. Korea offers a matchless blend of global and local tradition, and is changing rapidly. Therefore, understanding Korean spirituality offers the student a unique view on the spirituality of the 21st century.

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A multi-religious women prayer in Bodhgaya, India. South Korea assures the freedom of religious practice, and Korean boasts a wide range of religions and denominations, from Christianity and traditional Shamanism to the more obscure new religious movements. Inter-faith events, such as the prayer of Catholic, Anglican, Buddhist and Won Buddhist women in this picture, affirm this tolerant approach. This seems particularly significant in our current climate.

In this course we will learn the language and methodologies of religion studies and see how they apply to the Korean case. Students will be able to use these skills whenever interacting with issues of religion and spirituality – be it occupational or personal.

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The main temple of the Ch’ŏndogyo (天道教) religion in Seoul. Ch’ŏndogyo is a native Korean religion, based on the 19th century Tonghak (東學).

We will survey the most interesting cases of Korean religion and spirituality, and try to find out what is uniquely Korean about them. For East Asia experts, we offer a chance to expand their knowledge on Korean religions. For other majors, we offer exposure to Korea and to some important tools that will complement their own knowledge and skills.

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Shaman stalls in the street, offering fortune telling in a variety of methods, both traditional and new.

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Midnight prayer in the Myŏngdong Cathedral of Seoul. The cathedral was completed in 1898 and is the seat of the Archbishop of Seoul. Catholic Christianity came to Korea in the late 18th century through the efforts of Korean literati, and was severely persecuted for the next 80 years. In August 2014 Pope Francis beatifies 124 Korean martyrs, acknowledging the faith and dedication of the Korean Catholic community.

Who will be teaching this course

guy shababo imgGuy Shababo is a PhD candidate in the Department of Asian Studies, writing on Korean Confucianism under the guidance of Dr. Donald Baker. He has an MA in philosophy from the Tel-Aviv University, and another MA in Asian Studies from UBC. He is also a graduate of Computer Sciences and has worked in the past for high-profile hi-tech companies.