Confucianism, Christianity And Buddhism in the Koreas:
June 13, 2018

Which, if any one or a mixture of these systems could help the Koreas co-exist?

1. South Korea is very Confucian. My not being married isーperhaps to some degreeーtestament to this.

The people who manage to marry South Koreans from outside the culture do it in spite of the strong Confucian ethic to keep it in the “family”. Yes, many trends are changing,but I can tell you from living there 15 years that actually, though I am not a huge fan of Confucianism for the reason I just mentioned and a few more, there are benefits to their Confucianism, too:

2. Not only is the North quite communist, culturally, as in “communal”, the South reminded me of a Communist country all the time. You will never see people cooperate like the Koreans – unless you are looking at the Japanese or Chinese (or any other Confucian-backed culture in Asia) – but the Koreans take the cake. Their language reflects communal-ism; everything is “we” and “our”. An only child refers to his or her parents as “our parents.” Everyone says “our country” instead of “my country.” You hear “oori nara”, “Our country” all the time, and just as often, “We think.” Not only this, but you hear patently same answers to many mundane questions about which one would expect variation in answer.

No, these things don’t have to be patently communist, but the foreigner gets the feeling the South Koreans would be happy being Communist in deed if not name, as long as they could still have capitalism alongside it. I mean, they hate Communism, but their behavior beguiles that.

The South Koreans have many socially democratic or out-and-out socialist tendencies. They limit private teaching to level the playing field between rich and poor – things of that nature.

3. I think that though the North is more Confucian, this is more a function of the totalitarian system; and, yes, once that system is gone old Kong Fu Tsu’s traditions will erode, but far more slowly than in the South, as the South has not slaked it off completely yet, either – and they have been a republic over fifty years.

Confucianism is a deep part of the consciousness in this part of the world. The Japanese don’t seem to talk about it, but it is deeply instilled here, too. The roles men and women play are strong – and much stronger, though blurred – in South Korea.

4. There is a lot of Buddhism South Korea, but the Buddhists are not sensational about their religion, as the Catholics are and the Protestants are. Yes, they are becoming more secular, but the Christian population is at about 24~28%.

A lot of Koreans (if not most) claim to be Christian or Catholic (which they annoyingly pretend are so very different, that they say Catholics are not Christians).

Many go to church solely for the appearances, and more so for the networking opportunities. It is probably the most “keep-up-with-the-Joneses” country on the planet and it drives its own citizens to madness.they have told me many times themselves. this cannot be under-estimated. I have a friend of 20 some odd years who emigrated with his family and recently went back to try to start a business. he has become so Americanized he cannot stand it.He particularly hated how his wife loses so much social freedom from scrutiny every time he goes back.

So, while Confucianism is not a “religion” per se, in South Korea – according to anthropology (it’s more of a philosophy), I say it is a religion. I said it all the time when I was there. They honor Confucianism far more than Christianity or Buddhism, whether they would admit it or not. It is who they are. I don’t think they even realize it. My ex had no clue that she behaved more Confucian and Buddhist than “Capitalist Republic-an Christian” because it was in her heritage.

The North’s religion, I would say is “Kim-ism” with a backbone of Confucianism.

The South’s religion Is Confucianism with backbones of Korean Christianity and Buddhism.

But the funny thing is, the civility and obedience and communal success in China, North Korea and South Korea – in my opinion – is probably also so much more in debt to Confucius than to Communism.

So, I think that what people are hinting at – that the two countries could co-exist or even re-unite at some point – is right. This could work – but because they share Confucius, not because one is democratic and will influence the other.

About Art
June 8, 2012

Dear Viewer:

Art historian H. Gombrich said “there is no art; only artists.’ Artists, whatever they and their work are, owe nothing to any person, group, dogma, philosophy, religion, or political movement. Art is innocent-unless it is used as propaganda in manipulation of people for maligned purposes. However, Art-like religion, industry, and physical, & verbal behavior… must be displayed and utilized responsibly to guard against its being misinterpreted by the immature, the primitive, and the violent-for the safety of society and the compassionate and responsible raising of children.

Art should never be censored, as it is the product of the human mind; the greatest accomplishment in sentience we have evidence of in the known universe. As such it is a window into an individual and his experience; a group and its experience, or maybe that of a culture. Seeing into an entity’s experience-into peoples’ experiences is the only way to understand them, and thus the only way for anyone or any group to accomplish reconciliation. Understanding one another is the only way to see the world of beings, to love, to avoid violent conflict.

Art is self-expression applied soulfully through a mastered-or practiced (or in the least, artful) craft. It expresses human emotion, intelligence, ingenuity, and observations. Therefore, Art is testament to humanity and being human (a concept I further developed in talks with Amber Park). Art encompasses artful living, all the recognized “art forms”,and the technological and creative fields of science-such as engineering and architecture.And most importantly, art encompasses love.

Some of what you see here at CarlAtteniese may not seem to be art to you (indeed, some of my work is sketching from the unconscious), but another way of looking at art is how an acquaintence named Joshua-a dancer and choreographer-described it to me:

‘Art is the asking of questions not focused on specific answers.’

I would add that art is not solely journalistic, which means it is meant to be more than something in a personal diary; it is meant to be seen. To some, Art may be art only after it is viewed, meaning it is not art until perceived in the mind of a viewer. In this vein, Amber Park says ‘art is for the observer.’

Please look at my art. Try, if you would be so kind, to feel what you might think I felt when I made it, or…don’t. Observe your feelings when looking at it.

I present my art with heartfelt apologies to the victims of war, execution, and global climate change, and with apologies to the memory of Masters Hokusai Katsushika and Hiroshige Ando; former President George W. Bush, George Herbert Walker Bush, and to my father, to whom along with my mother, I dedicate my work.

Many thanks to my mom and dad, Robert M. Diefendorf, Lois Diefendorf (RIP), Amber Park, Christopher Barbaria, Gary Kim, Louis Trentidue, Adam Hoffman, Mike Stewart, Michael Kozzloff, Andrew Gerndt, Sardi Klein, Patti Bellantoni, Leigh Benkhi, Marshall Arisman, and Bing Lee.

With Love, Peace, Joy, and Imagination,

Carl Atteniese Jr.

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