Korea-Vietnam 2022-2023 Speaker Series

Buddhist Funerals or Confucian Funerals?

Understanding the Cultural Differences Between Korea and Vietnam through Their Receptions of Zhu Xi’s Family Rituals

January 26th, 2023. 6:00 PM Los Angeles Time (Zoom Webinar)
Dr. HSU Yi Ling is Associate Professor at the Department of Korean Language and Literature, Chinese Culture University, Taiwan. She holds a Ph.D. in Korean literature from Seoul National University, Republic of Korea. Her current research focuses on book history and intellectual history in East Asia, especially the comparison of Korea and Vietnam’s different ways of receipting Neo-Confucianism books from China from the fifteenth to the twentieth century. Her recent publication, “Xing Li Da Quan性理大全 in East Asia: A Choson-Vietnam Comparison” (in Chinese, Chung Cheng Chinese Studies, 2018), tries to show that the highest value of Neo-Confucianism in Vietnam lies in the imperial examination, but the most important thing for Choson scholars is metaphysical spirituality.
Dr. Sujung KIM is associate professor of religious studies at DePauw University. She received her Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University in 2014 and her M.A. in Buddhist Philosophy from Korea University in 2007. Sujung joined the DePauw faculty in 2014 and since then she has taught a wide range of courses on Buddhism and East Asian religions. While her research primarily centers on the premodern transcultural interactions between Japanese and Korean religions, her interdisciplinary research interests also include modern/contemporary Korean Buddhism. Her first book, Shinra Myojin and Buddhist Networks of the East Asian “Mediterranean” (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2019) focuses on a deity called Shinra Myōjin. Currently, Sujung is working on her second book project tentatively titled, Korean Magical Medicine: Buddhist Healing Talismans in Chosŏn Korea, which she investigates the religious, historical, and iconographic dimensions of healing talismans produced in Buddhist settings during the Chosŏn period.

Presented by Hsu Yi Ling

Chinese Culture University, Taiwan

Joined by Sujung Kim

DePauw University

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Around the 14th and the 15th centuries, Zhu Xi’s Neo-Confucianism was transmitted to Choson and Vietnam, and his seminal text Family Rituals exerted profound impacts on the cultures of the two societies. Focusing on pre-modern Choson’s and Vietnam’s receptions of Zhu Xi’s Family Rituals, this talk will show how Buddhist funerals were replaced by Confucian ones in the two societies as a result. Prior to the time between the 14th and the 15th centuries, Buddhism was the orthodox ideology in both Choson and Vietnam: the Goryeo kings held on to the belief that the founding and prosperity of their kingdom was attributed to the protection of Buddhism; the Trần monarchs went further to retire from the world and establish a Trúc Lâm zen sect. Since Buddhism believes in reincarnation, the body of the deceased is thought to have little significance as it no longer serves as the vassal of the soul, and therefore should be cremated in funerals. On the contrary, Confucianism holds that the soul would return to the body and prefers the burial in funerals. The processes in which Confucian funerals challenged and replaced the Buddhist counterparts differed in Choson and Vietnam, which illustrate how these two East Asian societies differed in significant cultural aspects.