Revitalization of Korean New Religions in the 1970s

Jin-Young Kim, Jongoh Lee, Heejae Choi


The concept of secularism underpinning modern Western society insists on weakening the influence of religion by viewing the world through the lens of science and reason rather than through religious beliefs, traditions, and political authority. However, Korea has adopted a different perspective on this matter. A number of Korean new religions were in decline and they seemed to be facing imminent death during the Japanese colonial period (1910-1945), the Korean War (1950-1953), the Rhee Syngman government (1948-1960), and the Park Chung-hee government (1961-1979), which were periods of peak political suppression and control. The 1970s saw a dramatic shift in religious circles, when new religions founded in the 19th century but oppressed until then revitalized and spread rapidly. Why could Korea in the 1970s not adopt the smooth relationship between religion and modernity prevalent in the West? Instead, why did new religions based on tradition develop and flourish? This study aims to answer these questions by comparing the theories on secularization and post-secularization of the West with the philosophy of Confucianism of the late Joseon Era and reveal the foundation of Korean new religions from a theoretical perspective.


Korean New Religion, Secularization, Post-secularism, 1970s, The Modern Era, The Rhee Syngman government, The Park Chung-hee government, Pseudo-religion

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