NZASR Conference 2018, NZASR Conference 2015

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Sangje and Samkye: The Cosmology of Daesoonjinrihoe in East Asian New Religions
David William Kim

Last modified: 2015-08-13


When the early modern Korea confronted the political conflict between the cultural enlightenment and the isolationist policy, the condition of the local religions were not exempt from the colonial influences. The various new religious movements also appeared in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Among the post-1860 movements of Donghak (later called Cheondogyo), Jeongsangyo, Daejonggyo, and Wonbulgyo, Daesoonjinrihoe of Jeongsangyo was the most successful movement in its social impact. The Deasoon new religious community delivered a progressive voice over the traditional religions of contemporary Korea. They believed that the God of the Universe himself (unlike the Son of God in Christianity) came down from the ninth heaven to recover the corrupted Samkye (three worlds of earth, human beings, and heaven) of the Universe. Then, what are their teachings on the Daesoon God (Guchun Sangje)? How do they understand the primary principle of the Cosmology? How is it different in comparison with the other East Asian new religions of Japan and China (Taiwan)? This paper explores the mystical relationship between the Daesoon God (Jeungsan Kang) and its Universe (Samkye) in regarding to the Chinese Yugandao and Japanese Tenrikyo and critically interprets the cosmology of the Korean new religion in relation to the concepts of the Tower of Cheonggye which embraced Asian traditions of Confucianism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Shamanism and Taoism.


New Religion, Korean Religion, East Asian Religions, and Daesoonjirihoe