Working in Harmony : Environmentally Engaged Buddhism in South Korea

University essay from Lunds universitet/Centrum för öst- och sydöstasienstudier

Abstract: The topic of the thesis was Buddhist environmental activism in South Korea. The purpose of the study was to portray the activism and social engagement of Korean Buddhists to conserve the environment and to motivate the awareness of the people in how environmental destruction affects nature and society. This was done to then examine how Buddhist environmental activism is expressed in Korea, if working with political issues is compatible with Korean Buddhism, what the challenges for Buddhists working with environmental issues are, and who the environmentally engaged Buddhists are. Data was collected by using a multiple methods approach; a combination of secondary sources, overt active/participant observation, and semi-structured interviews. The analytical framework consisted of themes distinguished in the literature: environmentalism in Buddhist teachings and environmentally engaged Buddhism. Buddhist environmental activism in Korea is expressed in various ways; through organizations, networks, inter-religious collaboration, education, services, social and traditional media, protests, debates, and unusual, attention-drawing behavior. Political issues are compatible with Korean Buddhism, as passages in texts and teachings support this, along with the existence and activities of environmentally engaged Buddhists that are operating in South Korea today. Challenges come mostly from colliding interests, and those involved are mainly middle-aged women.

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