Over the decades since the retreat of the Japanese after World War II and the subsequent battle to “purify” Korean Buddhism from Japanese “vestige", the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, the largest Buddhist denomination in Korea, has firmly established its identity as a legitimate heir and representative of the Korean Buddhism, supposedly unscratched by the Japanese Empire’s attempt to “taint” its body and soul with the influence of “already degenerated” Japanese Buddhism during the colonial occupation. In the eyes of the monks from the Jogye Order, the clerical marriage that was introduced and practiced by Japanese Buddhism was the most prominent sign of decadence and the subject of purification from the Buddhist monastery. Therefore, much of the Purification Movement waged by the Jogye Order after the Korean War centered around the clerical marriage practiced by some Korean monks, and the Order waged a battle against married monastic groups to take control of the Buddhist hegemony. However, oddly enough, in the newly established Buddhist chaplaincy corps in 1969, pressured by the solidifying Christian dominance in the military, the Jogye Order granted its monks who were commissioned as Buddhist chaplains permission to marry. Until the Order rescinded this permission in 2009, this special exception had continued to produce married monastics within the Order whose membership were betwixt and between. This paper seeks to explore the origin and history of this multi-layered, conflicted identity of the monks in the Jogye Order who vowed celibacy yet married later as Buddhist chaplains.
Hongmin Ahn, Harvard University, United States
About the Presenter(s)
Hongmin Ahn is a first-year student at Harvard Divinity School. His research interests are Korean/Japanese Buddhism, Military Chaplaincy, Militant Buddhism, and Buddhist Nationalism. He is currently researching clerical marriage practice in Korea.
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