Korean Spirituality
184pp. April 2008
Korean Spirituality
Author: Baker, Don;
Korea has one of the most dynamic and diverse religious cultures of any nation on earth. Koreans are highly religious, yet no single religious community enjoys dominance. Buddhists share the Korean religious landscape with both Protestant and Catholic Christians as well as with shamans, Confucians, and practitioners of numerous new religions. As a result, Korea is a fruitful site for the exploration of the various manifestations of spirituality in the modern world. At the same time, however, the complexity of the country’s religious topography can overwhelm the novice explorer.

Emphasizing the attitudes and aspirations of the Korean people rather than ideology, Don Baker has written an accessible aid to navigating the highways and byways of Korean spirituality. He adopts a broad approach that distinguishes the different roles that folk religion, Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, and indigenous new religions have played in Korea in the past and continue to play in the present while identifying commonalities behind that diversity to illuminate the distinctive nature of spirituality on the Korean peninsula.

12 illus.

Dimensions of Asian Spirituality Series
“An accessible and engaging guidebook to the distinctive religious and philosophical belief systems on the Korean peninsula. Its value is manifold. Because Korea has one of the most vibrant and diverse religious cultures of any nation in the world, lucid exposure to its beliefs and practices provides a model of how adherents of diverse faiths can get along harmoniously. An examination of Korean spirituality illustrates how differing religions can inspire and even modify one another when there is tolerance among the faithful. Korean Spirituality also helps us deepen our understanding not only of the Koreas, but also of the Koreans who live in the United States.” —Education about Asia (16:1, spring 2011)

“The culmination of the author’s lifetime of scholarship and observation, [this] book represents the most comprehensive and up-to-date account of Korean religion available in English. Korean Spirituality encompasses the entirety of the Korean religious spectrum and brings together history, anthropology, and philosophy/theology. It makes a valuable contribution.” —Pacific Affairs (82:2, summer 2009)

"A landmark for anyone who wants to know more about Korean religion, not to mention Asian spirituality." —Missiology (spring 2009)

”Instructors teaching classes on Korean religions have been limited because there are few books in print that are easily accessible to their students that may be used effectively as required texts. Korean Spirituality fills this need very successfully. This book should become a staple of courses on Korean religions for many years to come. . . . Korean Spirituality is easy to understand and extremely accessible to the general reader. It is an excellent introduction that, if used in the classroom, alludes to many ideas and concepts and historical background that can be flushed out in lectures.” —Acta Koreana (11:3, 2008)

“Provokes excellent questions. . . . The book will serve well as an introductory text to Korean religions, as it discusses all major religions of Korea, plus new ones such as Won Buddhism, Daesun Jinrihoe, and even Juche Ideology—all in a prose that is lucid and lively.” —Korean Studies (32, 2008)

Author: Baker, Don;
Don Baker teaches Korean civilization in the Department of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia.
Read the editor’s preface (PDF).
Editor’s Preface

1: Korean Spirituality: A Multiplicity of Approaches to Transcending the Human Condition
2: Folk Religion and Animism
3: China’s Three Teachings in Korea
4: Korean Christianity
5: The New Religions of Korea
6: The Spiritual Gaze in Korea
7: The Spiritual Practices of Koreans

Appendix: Spirituality in North Korea
Further Reading