The Newsletter 54 Summer 2010

Women, Confucianism and nation-building in Han Yongun's novel Death

Jung-Shim Lee

Han Yongun (1879-1944) was a Buddhist monk, an ardent Korean nationalist and a great poet, active during the colonial period (1910-1945). Buddhism is generally seen as the underlying ideology of his spiritual, nationalist and literary practices. It is often held that his nationalism and literature could remain morally and politically pure, original and non-compromising thanks to its grounding in profound Buddhist philosophy. But Buddhism was not his only religious belief. Nor was it the only political instrument of anti- Japanese resistance and Korean nationalism. Jung-Shim Lee reveals a more complicated and heterogeneous relationship between religion and politics in Han’s writings than is often assumed.

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