S-Space College of Humanities (인문대학) Religious Studies (종교학과) 종교와 문화(Religion and Culture) 종교와 문화(Religion and Culture) 34/35호(2018)
開闢과 改闢: 조선후기 묵시종말적 개벽 개념의 18세기적 기원
Cosmogony and Eschatology: The Apocalyptic Concept of Kaebyŏk 開闢in Late Chosŏn Korea and its 18th Century Origins
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 종교문제연구소
- 종교와 문화, Vol.34, pp. 203-243
- 개벽; 우주창생; 묵시종말론; 황사영백서; 황극경세; 탕평; Kaebyok; cosmogony; apocalyptic eschatology; Silk Letter of Hwang Sayong; Huangji jingshi; t'angp'yong
- Kaebyok 開闢means a sudden social or natural change or an emergence of a new world in everyday and religious usages of Korean. However, It is very rare to use in this usages in China or Japan, which are other East Asian countries using Chinese characters. Kaebyok is the event of the cosmogony at the beginning of the universe in a general and classical sense. On the other hand, in Korean new religions movements since the modern era, this word implies apocalyptic eschatology rather than the preceding meanings. This study addresses a genealogical approach to the reason for which this unique religious concept has been changed over time. Most of the previous studies have tended to deal with the apocalyptic concept of kaebyok assuming it was invented by some religious thinkers such as Ch'oe Cheu. However, the eschatological expression of kaebyok again (tasi-kaebyok), which is known for having appeared after Tonghak, has been found in another form, kaebyok 改闢, in literatures of earlier times such as the Silk Letter of Hwang Sayong. In the apocalyptic ethos of the early eighteenth century, the language of popular culture of resistance that desired the end of the present world was translated into the language of classical cosmology. This new usage of kaebyok was mentioned in the public sphere of the Royal Court and was also used as a rhetoric for the political reform of the King Yongjo era, t'angp'yong 蕩平. The expansion and fluctuation of the meaning occured during this long-term process and have become conditions for occurrence of the eschatological concept of kaebyok since the nineteenth century. This circulation between popular and elite culture was the origin of apocalyptic concept of Kaebyok.