Religion and Modernity in Korea


The development of religion in Korea took place gradually because of the various traditional beliefs among individuals. The emergence of modernity accelerated the rate at which new religions spread in Korea. The new forms of religions involved mainly Christian Catholics and Protestants who converted a large number of Korean. Most Koreans adopted Buddhism while the others became members of the Christian community. The emergence of various new forms of religion in Korea played a vital role in liberation of women from the traditional perspective, which had undermined them. The traditional systems had emphasized on the submission of women in any setting. A man was to dominate over a woman in all societal affairs. However, the emergence of new religions was a remedy to the various problems that women in Korea were undergoing. They embraced religion and maximized it to express their views in the society. The new religions boosted their morale as they became articulate in various matters. For instance, they utilized the new forms of religion and accessed education, they received employment, they formed political forums, they learnt about various marital rights and the specific relationship between a man and a woman. These opportunities were catalysts in the change of roles of women in the Korean society. This paper explicates how women in Korea utilized the new forms of religion to express themselves.

Korean women took advantage of the new religions and utilized the provision of educational facilities. The Roman Catholic came into Korea with the urge of educating individuals. The church set up various learning institutions that targeted women. The traditional system did not provide for formal education of women. Therefore, most women in Korea embraced the formal education availed to them. Protestant religions also set up various schools that aimed at educating women in the society. Various girl schools were set up, and women were provided the opportunity to access higher education through the establishment of institutions of higher education. Women took this opportunity and focused on gaining from the education provided by the new forms of religion. Through education, women gained the courage to articulate various issues that were affecting them. They discovered that education was the key to liberation. They were educated on various matters, and they gained courage to present their grievances in an orderly manner. Thus, women took the educational opportunities presented by the new forms of religion and expressed their wishes in a free manner. The acquisition of better communication skills and the required level of courage promoted this.

The new forms of religion brought about women employment in various sectors. The various forms of religion were passionate about seeing women get into new forms of the labor market. They also wanted women to participate in the economic growth and development of Korea. Initially, women had been only limited to doing the routine house chores as they remained submissive to the all powerful men dynasty. Women did not let go the employment opportunities presented by the new forms of religion. In fact, they were eager to engage the new forms of job activities brought about by the new religious organisations. They were eager about working in the various factories set up by the new religious groups. They utilized the employment opportunities presented as they searched for jobs in various companies across the country. Korean women got jobs at various factories as shop attendants, etc. Leadership positions were presented in various departments of the companies for women. They worked hard and eventually became economically stable through the benefits they acquired from the jobs they were doing. Economic stability enabled them to reduce their reliance on men, and they could express themselves freely. The reduced reliance on man enabled them articulate their various views without fear of being denied the required resources especially the necessities.

Women took advantage of the social gatherings presented by the new religions and formed various political organizations that helped them articulate various issues in the society. Women discovered that they also had the potential to lead the society to greater heights. They realized that leadership opportunities were not available for them. In addition, they discovered that continued submission would make them instruments rather than significant individuals in the society. Thus, they took advantage of the social gatherings, and they met, hence, sharing the various problems that they were experiencing in the society. The mutual sharing of problems was vital as it enabled women to form a common front of expressing the various problems. Women united and agitated for fair treatment in the society that had initially perceived them as instruments rather than vital individuals. Political organizations enabled them to express themselves through their chosen representatives who were vocal in agitating for equality in the society. Therefore, they utilized the new forms of religion and organized themselves into political movements that materialized into instruments of representation and expression of various problems.

The new forms of religion taught each partner in a family about the marital rights. This was the turning point for Korean women. They embraced this opportunity and learnt about their various rights and freedoms in a marriage. They leant about equality of both parties in the marriage. They were eager to understand how a marriage would work. The opportunities to learn about religious teachings relating to marriage were vital as they enabled women to emancipate themselves from the harsh conditions common to them. They had initially stayed at their homes as homemakers who could not provide for the needs of their society. The religious teachings they learnt enabled them to discover that they can be companions to men instead of being men providers of home services. They also moved from the belief that men were supposed to dominate women in a marriage. Men used to initiate divorces , hence, perceiving women as desperate individuals. These teachings were vital in the enhancement of women; they articulated themselves in an effective manner. They could address the society on various problems that they were encountering with in marriages, and could make divorces to their men in cases of misunderstanding.

The opportunities presented by the new forms of religion were an authentic way of women liberation. The new forms of religion aimed at ensuring that women had equal opportunities with men in the society. These opportunities were genuine in the liberation of women in the Korean society. Women became free and could articulate their various needs in a free manner. The opportunities have ensured that women are active in the various activities of the society. They have given women a chance to work in various sectors rather than being limited to house chores. Women are able to head various companies and departments, hence, proving the authenticity of the opportunities presented. The society recognized their efforts and appreciated their performance in the various areas. In addition, these opportunities are authentic in the liberation of women because there are various positions open to women for leadership in the government. Their rights and freedoms are in the constitutions, hence, protecting their existence in the society. There is no discrimination against women as they used to under the traditional forms of the country. They are able to establish political movements that enable them to articulate various views affecting them. These opportunities represent authentic liberation of women because women now have the opportunity to make free choices compared to that time when their husbands made most of the choices. The liberation of Korean women is widely seen in the manner women are prospering in various fields including education and the labor market.

In conclusion, the development of religion in Korea was a gradual process. Individuals have been being converted to many the various forms of religions over many years. The principal form of a new religion that came into Korea was Christianity. Roman Catholics came into Korea and established schools that opened a way to the expression of women in the society. The traditional system had restricted women from leading a free life where they could make their own decisions. They were to remain submissive under the old beliefs. Through the new forms of religion, women utilized the opportunities presented to express themselves in the society. For instance, they took the educational opportunities presented and acquired the necessary education that gave them the courage to express themselves in the society. In addition, they took advantage of the employment opportunities presented by the new forms of religion. They became independent and expressed themselves freely. They formed political organizations articulated their grievances through the social gatherings that were facilitated by the new forms of religion. These opportunities represent true liberation of the Korean women because they now have the chance to pursue their ambitions and make choices in the society without restrictions.