The Notion of Reconciliation in Sangsaeng Theology for Korean Reunification
- Author: Park Sam-kyung
- Publish: Madang: Journal of Contextual Theology Volume 18, Issue, p95~114, 00 Dec 2012
This paper deals with the notion of reconciliation in
sangsaengtheology for Korean reunification. Sangsaengtheology's central concept, haewon-sangsaeng(resolution of resentment and life-sharing), makes it clear that reunification means reconciliation and to accomplish it Koreans must focus on the resolution of accumulated resentment - han. Haewon-sangsaengenables people to put all grudges and acrimonious relationships, to forgive others, and to cooperate with them in order to live in harmony and peace. Haewon-sangsaengis central to an ethical-theological discourse of reconciliation. Reconciliation in sangsaengtheology is to come through the resolution of resentment or han and to construct an ethics of Korean reunification. Reconciliation focuses on building together a shared vision of the future. Reconciliation is not so much about the past as it is about the future. Reconciliation is to move beyond revenge and hatred. There can be no communion in the world if there is no reconciliation, that is, if there is no healing of the divisions that exist in the world. Reconciliation is a key element in the work unity. Reconciliation enables us not only to counter in every way possible enmity and opposition, but actually to foster openness and understanding of differences. In thinking of the notion of reconciliation, I am reminded of a poem by Kim Min Kee, “Two Fish,” in which a fish suffers because of the death of another fish. Two fish mean the divided South Korea and North Korea. Though they are opposite each other, they cannot exist without the other. While they are exclusive of each other, at the same time, they are complementary to one another. This is a creative relationship rather than a destructive one. The two fish are not different but the same. In a sense, an ethics of reconciliation is not about ideas but about a way of living, of moving from haewonto sangsaeng.
Korean reunification , reconciliation , sangsaeng theology , han , Haewon , Sangseng , Korean reunification ethics
Korea is the world’s only divided country. This division is an international as well as a national issue, and it has inflicted pain and suffering on the Korean people for 50 years, since the truce that suspended the Korean War was signed at Panmunjom on July 27, 1953.1) The disproportionate human cost paid by the Korean people in family divisions, separation of friends, and deaths is a result of the ideological differences that exist between the governments of South and North Korea as well as different world powers that exert influence and pressure on these governments. Communism, imperialism, capitalism, and the military rivalry between the two Koreas are the greatest obstacles to the reunification of this nation. Moreover, the situation on the Korean peninsula has implications not only for peace in northeast Asia but also for global peace.
Responding to this situation of fratricide, the paper analyzes
sangsaengtheology,2) which centers on the concept of life-sharing. Sangsaengtheology was first elaborated by Park Jong-chun and Hong Jeong-soo. In 1991, Methodist Theological Seminary Professor Park Jong Chun published the book Sangsaeng Theology, in which he proposed sangsaengtheology as the third stage of Korean theology.3) According to Park, the first stage, starting in the early 1960s, focused on tochakwha(indigenization) theology. The theologians involved in that first stage were faculty members of the Methodist Theological Seminary, among them Yun Sung-bum and Park Pong-bae. In the 1970s, minjungtheology marked the second stage of Korean theology. In the late 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, Park suggested that the third stage of Korean theology center on sangsaengtheology which brought together the hermeneutical universality of tochakwhatheology and the liberational partiality of minjungtheology.4)
In my analyses of
sangsaengtheology, I pay close attention to the notions of haewon(resolution of resentment) and sangsaeng(life-sharing). Haewon and sangsaeng, I propose, are central to an ethical-theological discourse of reconciliation that can contribute to the reunification of Korea. Sangsaengtheology’s main concepts of haewon-sangsaeng(resolution of resentment and life-sharing) are rooted in the Korean people’s political and spiritual aspirations, which are fundamental to the reconciliation of North and South Korea. Sangsaengtheology interprets the Christian message of eternal life as the light of sangsaengtriumphing over sangguik(conflict), over spiritual and ideological conflict, over the division between North and South Korean peoples, and over socio-economic contradictions.
1)Lee, Ki-baik, A New History of Korea (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1984), 380. 2)상 (sang) means “each other” and 생 (saeng) means “life or living.” 3)Park, Jong-chun 상생의 신학 [Sangsaeng Theology] (Seoul: Korean Theological Study Institute, 1991), 14, 468. 4)Ibid.
Haewon-sangsaengconcept is a religious thought developed by Kang Jeung-san, who used the pseudonym of Kang, Il-soon (1871-1909). Haewon-sangsaengthought emerged from the political and spiritual aspirations for the liberation of Koreans during an era of Western and Japanese imperialism. Kang lived during the last quarter of the 19thcentury, the late period of the Chosun dynasty, a time of social chaos caused by various revolts of the minjung. The Tonghakrevolution5) in 1894, a Korean minjungmessianic movement led by the minjungwith the intention of creating a new world, influenced Kang’s thought. His idea of spiritual enlightenment emerged from the failure of the Tonghakrevolution to create a new world through a socio-political revolution. As an alternative, Kang suggested a movement based on haewon-sangsaeng, which he created by taking the Shamanistic tradition of haewonand incorporating it into the other religious traditions in Korean Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. Haewon-sangsaengurges people to put aside all grudges and acrimonious relationships, to forgive others, and to cooperate with them in order to live in harmony and peace, and to establish a new world.
haewon-sangsaengthought, conflict is considered the root of all suffering, and the removal of conflict is a necessary condition for true peace and hope to flourish. Kang defined conflict from a cosmological viewpoint.6) Kang wrote, “In the age of Early Heaven, there were conflicts bringing all sorts of miserable disasters and wars to the world. People lived in an environment of conflict because the principle of sangguik(conflict) controlled everything.” 7)
In Kang’s cosmology, the universe has two major phases: Early Heaven and Later Heaven. In the Early Heaven phase there is an imbalance in nature since
yangdominates yin; because these two energies do not circulate well, sangguik(conflict) governs all life. In the Later Heaven phase, a time of returning to oneness and harmony, there will be peace because the relationship between yinand yangwill achieve perfect balance. Sangsaeng(life-sharing) will be realized in Later Heaven.
According to Kang’s teaching, the time of the
Tonghakrevolution was near the end of Early Heaven, the sangguikage, which meant the start of Later Heaven - the time when sangsaengwould finally overcome sangguik8) - was approaching. People were called to open themselves to a new world of haewon-sangsaeng. Haewonwas the main focus of Kang’s spiritual work. According to him, in order to overcome sangguik, haewonis required. Haewon, a Korean word with Chinese roots, is composed of two parts: hae(解), meaning “to resolve,” and won(寃), meaning “bitterness, grief, and resentment.” Therefore, haewonrefers to resolving bitterness and grief and dissolving grudges that block communication. There is a difference between the Korean concept of han, discussed in the previous chapter, and won(寃), though in the Korean-Chinese dictionary the concepts are synonymous.9) According to Jeung-San Do doctrine, won is a precondition of han.10) Hanis the accumulation of won. Wonrefers to emotions of fury, frustration, unresolved resentment against oppression and injustices suffered, a sense of helplessness, and a feeling of total abandonment. Over time, wonaccumulates and becomes a deep feeling, han.
sangsaengis comprised of sang(相), meaning “mutual,” and saeng(生), meaning “life.” Sangsaengis defined as living together, helping each other: life-sharing. In daily life, sangsaengrefers to working for the well-being of others; its goal is saving life. Sangsaengdoes not refer to people prospering at the expense of others but rather to the fact that individual persons can only prosper by helping others.
sangsaeng, one needs to open oneself to others and become a true friend. Sangsaengimplies a friendship in which the powerlessness and pains - and hope - of the people are shared. Sangsaengpresupposes mutual relationships that create an environment in which communion is possible.
According to Kang,
sangsaengis like the movement of two hands clasping each other: “Our work is the practice of helping others do well. After others prosper, we need only to take what remains, and our work will be accomplished.” 11) For him, the primary principle of sangsaengis our neighbors’ well-being or success. To share friendship with others and to live in harmony and peace with other persons, nature, and God - that is what sangsaengis about.12) Sangsaengcannot come from one side alone; it focuses on mutual relationships in which persons are not separable; they are essentially united. Such mutual relationships result in harmony. Sangsaeng centers on the idea that one cannot exist without the other.
sangsaeng, harmony results from recognizing and accepting change. Resistance to change creates imbalance, disharmony, and oppression. To bring about sangsaengwill inevitably involve a struggle against structures and persons that maintain divisions and keep people from living in harmony. Harmony is only possible through the interplay of mutual engagement in friendship.
Kang’s concept of
haewon-sangsaenghas important implications for current efforts for the reunification of North and South Korea, for solving the socio-political and ideological conflicts that exist. Following Kang, one can say that the reunification of Korea is possible only when haewonis achieved.
5)The term tonghak is comprised of 동(tong), meaning east and 학(hak), meaning learning. The tonghak revolution arose when Koreans began to protest irregularities and corruption of the government and aristocracy in the 19th century. 6)You, Chul The “Theory of the Resolution of Bitterness and Grief in Jeung San Do” in 증산도사상, [The Journal of JeungSanDo Thought], No 5. (Seoul: JeungSanDo Research Institute, 2001), 45-46. 7)JeungSanDo Committee, ed., 증산도 도전(경세판) [JeungSanDo Dojeon], 76. Translation mine. 8)Park, 상생의 신학, [Sangsaeng Theology], 467. 9)Shinwon Cultural Society, ed. 최근한문사전, [A Recent Korean-Chinese Dictionary] (Seoul: Shinwon Cultural Society, 1995), 206. 10)Sejeong Press & Plan, ed., 누구나 알기쉬운 증산도의 기본교리, [An Easy and Basic Doctrine of JeungSanDo] (Seoul: Dae Won Press, 2000), 102. 11)Ibid. 12)Park, 상생의 신학, [Sangsaeng Theology], 469.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Park Jong Chun and Hong Jeong Soo elaborated
sangsaengtheology focusing particularly on an interpretation of Kang’s work in view of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. They suggested sangsaengas a new motif on which to build a Korean theology, which they described as a liberation theology. In contrast to the culture of conflict that exists in a divided society, they focused on creating a culture of life. This is the aim of sangsaengtheology: to harmonize all contradictions in Korea.
The principles of
sangsaengtheology are governed by a dynamic balance of complementarities that embrace center and margin, female and male, the weak and the strong, the oppressor and the oppressed. It proposes the development of reconciliation and healing at the personal as well as social levels. It focuses on embracing, accepting, helping, serving and living together with others.
Theologically speaking, according to Park,
sangsaengtheology has five distinguishing characteristics. First, sangsaengtheology uses as resources “the text and tradition of the faith community on the one hand, and the common human experience and language on the other.” 13) The second characteristic has to do with the academic task of critical correlation of these two resources. In order to dialogue between text and context, sangsaengtheology creatively uses hermeneutical methods also used by liberation theology, feminist theology and minjung theology. Thirdly, sangsaengtheology “phenomenologically delves into the ultimate question that has been present in the common experience and common language of the Korean nation and Korean minjung, namely, hanor won(resentment).” 14) Park suggests, for example, that hanand shin myung15) have been a common experience among Koreans way before the division of the peninsula. Sangsaengtheology uses minjung’sexperiences instead of the rulers’ experiences. Sangsaengtheology’s fourth characteristic refers to how to retrieve “the genuine authority of the Christian text and Christian tradition for the praxis of liberation by means of the ideological critique of distorted texts and traditions in Western theology.” 16) In order to interpret biblical texts for the community, sangsaengtheology joins minjungtheology’s critique of Western Christianity. Finally, sangsaengtheology “critically correlates its phenomenological moment (third characteristic) with its ideological critical moment (fourth characteristic) in a unique hermeneutics of sangsaeng- life through resolution of resentment.” 17)
For Park, it is the Holy Spirit who leads humans to overcome the culture of death and violence and directs our attention to peace and
sangsaeng. Only the Holy Spirit can give people the power to struggle for a new society characterized by harmony, equality, and justice. In his text, Crawl with God, Dance with the Spirits, Park writes:
The Holy Spirit gives people the power to survive
sangguik(conflict) so they can become partners with God in building sangsaengin our world. Park understands the Holy Spirit as the mother who comforts us, her children.19) In his view, “Corporal life is affirmed and cared for by the mother, for the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:20).” 20) Anticipating the resurrection of our bodies, he claims, we are touched and moved by the mother, the Holy Spirit who turns our wailing into dancing.21)
In order to overcome religious division, according to Park, 통(tong)-church must exist.
Tongincludes both interdependence and interpenetration between the sacred and the profane, or among those with conflicting beliefs.22) Tongmeans hanmon kongdongche(one body community) echoing Ephesians 4:4, that all should be “one body, one Spirit in Christ.” 23) Without negating the institutional element of the church, tongis a vision of purified and unified Korean churches.24) Tongis based on the reconciliation brought about by the cross;25) tongprefers serving people to ruling people; for tong, love is not static but dynamic, bringing about solidarity among the churches. This proposal of tongby sangsaengtheology focuses on living together and creating social solidarity. Park proposed tongas the archetype for the Korean people where sangsaeng- harmony between heaven, earth, and among human beings - would flourish.26)
Hong Jeong-soo links
sangsaengtheology to Jesus’ teachings on confession and forgiveness.27) Hong calls Jesus’ movement the fifth movement to distinguish it from four other popular movements of his time, that of the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the Zealots, and the Essenes.28) Jesus’ fifth movement rejected the paths proposed by the others. Jesus’ own way is best expressed in his saying, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17).29) This commandment is at the heart of sangsaengtheology urging people to remove all grudges and enmity, to forgive and to live together.30)
For Hong, Jesus’ death and resurrection meant, first and foremost, forgiveness.31) Forgiveness is both God’s will and the path of
sangsaeng.32) It was precisely to pass on the power of forgiveness to his disciples that Jesus was crucified and resurrected (Matthew 16:19; John 20:23).33) Jesus’ good news is identified with the spirit of sangsaeng, with forgiveness and sacrificing oneself for a new society where all can coexist in harmony and equality. Hong sees Jesus as proclaiming Kang’s new era: hoochun kaebyek, Later Heaven, the opening of a new age.34) Hong contends that the spirit of sangsaengis God’s blessing given to us through Jesus Christ, in order for us to carry out the task of forgiveness and reconciliation.35)
sangsaengtheology, God is the God of sangsaeng. Building on the understanding of Park and Hong, Wang Dae-il analyzes Genesis 16 to explain the God of sangsaeng.36) He focuses on God’s command to Hagar, “Go back to your mistress” (Genesis 16:9). Wang concludes that God’s command to Hagar to go live with Sarah, who had terribly wronged her, indicates that God wants people to live together to overcome hurts and injustices. God, says Wang, wants all of humanity to live together in the world.37)
According to Wang, the God of
sangsaengheals people so they can live together.38) In Genesis 16, God healed both Hagar and Sarah. For Hagar, the praxis of sangsaengresulted in being able to restore her relationship with Sarah. From Sarah, sangsaengdemanded a relationship of equality with Hagar.39) The God of sangsaengtheology wanted both women to maintain their own identity while at the same time establishing a relationship of coexistence and reciprocity. It was precisely in such a relationship that healing between them could happen.40)
Wang insists that the Kingdom of God for which Israel waited was a community of coexistence, mutuality, and equality.41) This community was to live together under God’s reign. It is then, according to Wang, that the God of
sangsaengwill say, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance” (Isaiah 19:25). In fact, at that time, Israel was hostile to both Egypt and Assyria. But God calls Israel to live with them. In sangsaengtheology, God is not a God of exclusiveness, conflict, and hatred but the God of inclusiveness, harmony, and reconciliation.42)
13)Ibid., 468. 14)Ibid., 469. 15)Shin myung refers to a forgetting of the self that occurs when a person is possessed by a divine spirit. In Korea, shin myung refers to the power, strength and vitality for life the possessed person has for her or himself and the community. 16)Ibid. 17)Ibid. 18)Park, Crawl with God, Dance in the Spirit, 134-135. 19)Ibid., 133. 20)Ibid. 21)Ibid. 22)Park, 상생의 신학, [Sangsaeng Theology], 236, 470. 23)Ibid., 237. 24)Ibid., 237, 471. 25)Ibid., 238. 26)Ibid., 472. 27)Hong Jeong Soo “Sangsaeng Theology and the Future of the Korean Church” 세계의 신학, [World Theology]. 28)Ibid., 22. 29)Ibid., 25. 30)Ibid., 26. 31)Ibid., 27. 32)Ibid. 33)Ibid. 34)Ibid., 26. 35)Ibid., 29. 36)Wang Dae Il “The Practice of Sangsaeng and a New Horizon of Old Testament” in 상생신학: 한국신학의 새패러다임, [Sangsaeng Theology: A New Paradigm of Korean Theology] ed., Center for World- Theology (Seoul: Chomyung Press, 1992), 88. 37)Ibid. 38)Ibid., 89. 39)Ibid., 90. 40)Ibid. 41)Ibid., 88. 42)Ibid., 88.
What ethical understandings must guide the work of reunification? What are the central elements of an ethics of Korean reunification? In view of what it can contribute to an ethics of reunification,
Sangsaengethics’s central concept, haewon-sangsaeng, makes clear that reunification means reconciliation and healing and that to accomplish these Koreans must focus on resolution of accumulated resentment - han. In order to articulate the ethics of sangsaeng, I analyze the work of sangsaengtheologians, Park Jong-chun and Hong Jeong-soo.
Right relationships are essential to the notion of sangsaeng.43) As human beings, we are innately relational. We are born into relationships, into community. We are able to behave toward each other in ways that promote mutuality, peace, and justice for all people.44) Yet, in our world, human affairs are contrary to a morality that has mutuality as a principle. Human beings seem intent on behaving in ways that bring about miserable disasters, which produce
wonamong humans, between humans and nature, and between humans and God. The ethics of sangsaengaims to accomplish right relationships and dissolve won.45)
This ethical understanding leads people to seek reconciliation and healing by overcoming their hostile feelings toward each other. Conflict, or won, cannot be overcome by taking revenge against one’s enemy, as vengeance merely diffuses
won. Instead, one has to deal artfully and virtuously with won, taking the long road of the practice of haewon, to free oneself from conflict and hostile feelings.46) As a result of engaging in haewon, people can fully realize the reality of sangsaeng, enjoying the fulfillment of solidarity and unity after decades of brokenness, domination, and division.
According to Hong,
haewon-sangsaengis not only a practical notion and a virtue; it is also a gift.47) It is given by God to begin a new era.48) Haewon-sangsaengis an ethical praxis that makes possible the opening of this new age. Haewon-sangsaeng, then, is a process of cooperation between God and humans that involves the active efforts of humanity and the will of God. Understanding of haewon-sangsaengdeals with human actions and is also a cosmology.49) Haewonhas to do with bringing all the beings of the universe back to their original selves in order to build a new world. The goal of haewon-sangsaengis to encourage a new way of living in a new world.50)
The relationship of
haewonand sangsaengcan be examined in parallel to the idea of yinand yang. In Asian thought, everything in the world can be divided into yinand yang. Yin-yangconstitutes the basic principle of the universe. Yin-yangis a complementary principle, one of balance, not of the domination of one over another. Neither one is superior to the other. Yinand yangare two co-existing polar opposites. Though they are opposite by nature, yinand yangare united, for one cannot exist without the other. Yinis related to yangand yangis related to yin. The existence of yinpresupposes yangand vice versa. While they are exclusive of each other, at the same time, they are complementary to one another. This is a creative relationship rather than a destructive one; the differences are respected, and that is what makes yin-yangmeaningful and dynamic.51) Yin-yangresembles the relationship between the water of the ocean and its waves. The water of the ocean and its waves are not exactly the same because the former becomes the latter only when stirred by the wind. However, it is also true that ocean water and the ocean waves are not different. They have a common essence: both are ocean water; the waves of the ocean cannot be separated from the water of the ocean, but they are not the same.
Harmony is a key to understanding the relational categories of
yinand yang. One includes the other in itself. Yinand yangare interrelated just in such a way that they are one, and yet they are opposite poles.52) Yinand yanghave opposite characteristics and opposite roles, but they are inseparable. Yin-yangare a relational reality. Based on yin-yang, harmony exists if there is a recognition and acceptance of the tides of change. Yin-yangas opposite poles in harmony are a dynamic reality, one that changes. Our resistance to change is the imbalance that creates disharmony. Yinis always becoming yang, and yangis always becoming yin. The inclusiveness of one in the other creates a dynamic of mutual interplay that results in harmony instead of in conflict. Harmony, therefore, is not the result of the absence of differences or of the domination of one over another. Harmony is only possible through engagement of the different elements.
yincannot exist without yangnor yangwithout yin, haewonand sangsaengexist in relation to one other. Haewonexists prior to sangsaeng, while sangsaengis the result of the action of haewon.53) One cannot reach sangsaengwithout going through the process of haewon. Haewonrefers to a process of tension; sangsaengdenotes the result of tension. Sangsaengis reached only because haewonexists. Haewonprovides the opportunity to recognize the tensions that exist in societal structures. This recognition is what sets one on the road to sangsaeng.
The relationship between
haewonand sangsaengis based also on what can be considered sangsaengcosmology.54) In earth and heaven cosmology, “there is no difference between the height of Heaven and the lowness of Earth (how high Heaven is, is equal to how low Earth is). But there are differences in perspective. This does not mean that Heaven looks down on Earth, but the Earth and Heaven look at and see each other on the same level.” 55) Sangsaengtheology changes this understanding that is based on Kang’s interpretation: “In the prior world only Heaven was respected, because the greatness of the virtue of the Earth was not known. Hereafter, both Heaven and Earth shall be respected equally.” 56)
The relationship between
yinand yang, between Heaven and Earth, and between haewonand sangsaengis parallel to the process of dialogue in the paradigm of reconciliation. Haewon-sangsaengdemands people to be open to each other, to get to know each other, to come together and learn from each other in order to be able to move together into the future. Dialogue includes understanding yin-yangand haewon-sangsaeng, and therefore can be an effective way of moving people beyond broken relationships with God, with self, and with neighbor. Haewon, as reconciliation and healing, requires the will to embrace, to be unconditional and indiscriminate. The will to embrace the other for the sake of reconciliation must take precedence over any conflict one might have with others. The process of reconciliation must proceed under the assumption that no one should ever be excluded from the embrace of the community because all human beings are equal before God. To be reconciled to God, one must overcome any won(resentment) towards others in the community; one must practice the social virtue of reconciliation.
From a Christian perspective, Park relates
sangsaengand haewonto the presence of the Holy Spirit. Looking at what lies behind conflict - resentment ( won han) - Park posits that the unique experience of “God within me” can overcome the vicious cycle of the unjustifiable han. When the supreme chi(spirit or a vital and original power that permeates the entire universe) of God becomes present in one’s heart and one is awakened to the internal witness of “God-within” being, one has to be awakened and move away from han. In his view, “Unless the supreme chi(spirit) of God comes down into one’s heart, there can be no awakening to God-within-ness.” 57) Haewon-sangsaengfor Park is the result of the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the self. It is this relationship that makes haewon-sangsaengpossible, bringing peace and reconciliation among persons and with the cosmos. Haewon-sangsaeng, then, is precisely about reconciliation, about an understanding and a way of acting that will create a new world.
Another theo-ethical understanding of Park pertinent to this discussion is that of
han. For him, hanis like a tree that is cut off and is then joined to the tree of life, to the cross, where it will produce the fruits of sangsaeng.58) Haewon-sangsaengcan be seen in the cross of reconciliation. As the cross of reconciliation has both vertical (between human beings and God) and horizontal (between human beings) dimensions, haewon-sangsaengalso has two dimensions: a personal level (vertical) and a social level (horizontal).59) The personal level involves a self-awareness about the mystical union with God ( si chun ju: God-within-ness) and about reconciliation between the person and God.60) On the social level, haewon-sangsaengbegins to bring the Later Heaven ( hoochun kaebyek) where human beings and all of the world is reconciled with God. Hoochun kaebyekpoints to a radical change of the cosmological order, a process determined by the efforts of humanity. Haewon-sangsaeng, then, is an ethical praxis, an ethical virtue - habitual practice - that impacts individual persons as well as society, enabling all to live together in meaningful community.
Park cites Kim Chi-ha, the
minjungpoet and advocate of life, who noted that women and men should be equal in all ways. Kim insists that the rich and the poor must be equal, that the high and the low must be on the same level. Kim, one could say, calls for the elimination of all social discrimination between the strong and the weak.61) He posits that sangsaengcan function as a paradigm for a way of thinking that awakens people to the need one has to think of others. This will transform humanity’s civilization of confrontation, strife, and war into one of reconciliation, harmony, peace, and unity not only at the personal level but also at the social and civic level. Haewon-sangsaeng, therefore, can be said to introduce 홍익인간 ( hong ik in gan), a way of benefiting all people and the world of 재세이화 ( jae se li hwa), a way of making the world better as a virtue for all Korean society.62)
Park uses a key concept of
tonghakthought:63) innaechun(humanity is heaven).64) In tonghakthought, God was in all persons, including women, slaves, outcasts, the handicapped, and the poor. Essential to this meaning of innaechunis benefiting the oppressed, the poor, and the powerless. “The other person was to be seen as the bearer of heaven or god ( si ch’on ju). As such, the obeisance rendered to the divine (or by the minjungto the yangbanand especially the emperor) was to be rendered to every person ( sa in yo ch’on, or treat people as though they were God), and this concretely meant the practice of obeisance to persons of the underclass including women, children, and slaves.” 65) Kang Jeung-San expanded this notion into “treat all persons as you treat God.” 66) This fundamental ethical norm contributes to the Christian understanding of all persons as being imago Dei, which in turn is the basis for the intrinsic dignity of all human beings.
Hong also works in the notion of
innaechun. He posits that the core meaning of innaechunrefers to injon(人尊) (human nobility) that is related to haewon-sangsaeng.67) He asserts that injon- which is realized by helping neighbors succeed in their lives - is achieved through haewon-sangsaeng.68) In this sense, haewon-sangsaengis considered a religious and an ethical virtue. It is a way to liberation-salvation and to justice (reconciliation) in the world.69)
In this respect, I am proposing a Christian ethics of reconciliation for Korean reunification. It makes clear that if we call ourselves Christians, then we have to be involved in the work of reunification. Reconciliation focuses on building together shared vision of the future. Reconciliation is not so much about the past as it is about the future. Reconciliation is to move beyond revenge and hatred. There can be no communion in the world if there is no reconciliation, that is, if there is no healing of the divisions that exist in the world. Reconciliation is a key element in the work unity. Reconciliation enables us not only to counter in every way possible enmity and opposition, but actually to foster openness and understanding of differences. Reconciliation will help us create a world
43)Ahn, Suck-mo, “A Model of Sangsaeng as a Method of Practical Theology” in 상생신학: 한국신학의 새패러다임, [Sangsaeng Theology: A New Paradigm of Korean Theology] ed., Center for World-Theology (Seoul: Chomyung Press, 1992), 165. 44)Ibid. 45)Hong, Jeong-soo, “Hidden Jesus: Sangsaeng Theology” in 상생신학: 한국신학의 새패러다임, [Sangsaeng Theology: A New Paradigm of Korean Theology], 30. 46)Park, Jong-chun, “Interliving Theology as a Wesleyan Minjung Theology” in Methodist and Radical: Rejuvenating a Tradition, eds. Joerg Rieger and John J. Vincent, (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 2003), 167. 47)Hong, “Hidden Jesus: Sangsaeng Theology,” 30. See also, Park Jong-chun, “Sangsaeng Theology as a Wesleyan Minjung Theology,” 180. In Park’s thinking, the main trait of sangsaeng theology is “free grace for and in all.” 48)Hong, “Hidden Jesus: Sangsaeng Theology,” 30. 49)Ibid., 28. 50)Ibid., 30. 51)Lee, Jung-young, Theology of Change: A Christian Concept of God in Eastern Perspective (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1979), 4-5. 52)For Asians yin-yang helps to understand Gen 2:24 where husband and wife, without stopping being two, become one. 53)Hong, Jeong-soo, “Hidden Jesus: Sangsaeng Theology” in 상생신학: 한국신학의 새패러다임, [Sangsaeng Theology: A New Paradigm of Korean Theology], ed., Center for World-Theology (Seoul: Chomyung Press, 1992), 30. 54)Park, Kyu-tae, “Ethics and Femininity in Korean and Japanese New Religions- Focusing on Chungsan’gyo and Tenrikyo” in Women and Religion: Tenri International Symposium ’98. ed., Center for Women and Religion (Berkeley: The Graduate Theological Union, 2003), 166. 55)Ibid., 166-167. 56)Ibid., 164. See also, JeungSanDo Committee, ed., 증산도 도전(경세판) [JeungSanDo Dojeon], 486. 57)Park, “Interliving Theology As a Wesleyan Minjung Theology” in Methodist and Radical: Rejuvenating a Tradition, 176, 171. 58)Park, 상생의 신학, [Sangsaeng Theology], 30, 102. 59)Park, “Interliving Theology As a Wesleyan Minjung Theology” in Methodist and Radical: Rejuvenating a Tradition, 176. 60)Ibid., 175. 61)Park Jong Chun, 상생의 신학, [Sangsaeng Theology], 439. 62)Park bases this understanding on the Tan Gun myth, a story about the origin of the Korean people and the establishment of the Korean nation. According to the myth, Hwan-Woong controlled the world. He needed a woman but he was the only human in the world. So he recruited two animals, a tiger and a bear. To be born as a woman, they were required to eat only garlic and wormwood for 100 days. The bear sustained all severe hardships for 100 days and then became a woman. Between that woman and Hwan-Woong, a child was born, His name was Tangun, and he established Korea. 63)In the 19th century, the people in Korea began to protest irregularities and corruption of the government and the aristocratic class. That was the tonghak revolution that was based on tonghak thought - the people’s mind is at the same time heaven’s mind - that was later refined as innaechun; tonghak means literally “Eastern Learning.” in Noh Jung-Sun, Religion and Just Revolution (Seoul: Voice Press, 1987), 66-67. 64)Park, Jong-chun, “Interliving Theology as a Wesleyan Minjung Theology” in Methodist and Radical: Rejuvenating a Tradition,eds. Joerg Rieger and John J. Vincent, (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 2003), 169-170. 65)Theodore W. Jennings Jr., “Transcendence, Justice and Mercy: Toward a (Wesleyan) Reconceptualization of God,” in Rethinking Wesley’s Theology for Contemporary Methodism, ed., Randy L. Maddox (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1988),76. See also, Park Jong Chun, “Interliving Theology as a Wesleyan Minjung Theology,” 170. 66)JeungSanDo Committee, ed., 증산도 도전 (경세판) [JeungSanDo Dojeon], 437,108, 120. Kang Jeung-San basically had the thought of innaechun. See, Hong Jeong Soo, “The Spirit of Sangsaeng for Korean People” in 상생신학: 한국신학의 새패러다임, [Sangsaeng Theology: A New Paradigm of Korean Theology], 27. 67)Hong, 28. 68)Ibid. 69)Ibid.
Sangsaengethical principles bring to mind the insightful poem by Kim, Min-kee, “Two Fish.”
This poem describes the ethics of
sangsaeng: Life cannot survive resentment and strife. Sangsaengethics is about helping others become successful, cooperating with others, and living in harmony and peace with all people, with nature, and with God. It is about eliminating won - han - so sangsaengcan flourish. Reconciliation comes through the resolution of resentment or han. It makes clear to construct an ethics of Korean reunification. The ethics of Korean reunification is not limited to political reunification, but seeks the construction of a new society in which all people will live together in a peaceful and just society.
The two fish mean the divided South Korea and North Korea. This poem presupposes that one cannot exist without the other. One is related to the other and vice versa. While they are exclusive of each other, at the same time, they are complementary to one another. The two fish are not different but same. This is a creative relationship rather than a destructive one. In a sense, an ethics of reconciliation is not about ideas but about a way of living, of moving from
70)Noh, Jong-sun, Liberating God for Minjung (Seoul: Hanul, 1994), 55.