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Modern Korean philosophy movements Modern Korean philosophy movements
by Joseph Gatt
2019-02-03 10:47:14
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Korean thinkers are not celebrated and tend to be anonymous. Furthermore there is a strict hierarchy among Korean scholars meaning there is often very little room for debate, and papers rarely contradict other papers. So here I won't be discussing any Korean authors, but general thinking movements I have observed in South Korea.


Lately, a lot of papers have been celebrating the strict social hierarchies you will find in South Korea. The general discourse tends to celebrate those who are considered great figures. If you read between the lines, be it presidents, company leaders, historical leaders or local leaders, they tend to be portrayed as all-powerful and all decisions tend to be attributed to those leaders who are celebrated. No consultations are discussed.

Sex, drugs and rock'n'roll

When dealing with popular culture, although drugs are rarely discussed, popular culture tends to be eroticized and sexually emancipated. Women can sometimes be portrayed as sexual objects who have to stick to strict physical features, including a round-shaped face, big eyes, a v-shaped chin, legs as thin as chopsticks, and a slender figure. Women are both idealized and fetishized. On the one hand women who adhere to the strict physical criteria are considered divine, almost geisha-like. While raw sexual references and pornography tend not to be discussed, casual sex, or lust tends to be normalized.


Of course many Korean thinkers tend to view what I described above with skepticism, yet don't always have solutions to offer to improve the living conditions among Koreans. A lot of times Korean thinkers will be very critical of the society they live in, be it in economic, social or political terms, yet they rarely offer solutions to fix such problems.


Some Korean thinkers have become masters at causing disgust among readers. From discussing women in an overly sexual way, or discussing medical or social conditions in not so tactful ways. Such thinkers also tend to misrepresent Korean society, often representing Korean society as a group of deviant people.

National symbolism

Among some of the older people, a lot of papers will deal with the national symbols of Korea, and will discuss symbols at length. Age and its symbols, food and its symbols, animals and their symbols, architecture and its symbols, music, art, dance and their symbols, Korea and its symbols.

Unconditional nationalism

Many papers will be written with unconditional love and support for the Korean nation. Korea will be portrayed in a very positive light, and the writer's affection for the Korean nation will show.

Historic idealism

Finally, a lot of papers deal with historical revisionism of a unique kind: historical idealism. That is many thinkers will look to the past and try to find aspects of past social, architectural, agricultural or other aspects of past life and idealize them. Korea having a long written history, historians often looks to the past and try to find things from the past they would like to see in the present.

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