Korean Way of Accepting Christianity Observing Korean culture here and there, one can find a unique culture only in Korea. The number of church in the city, people going to the church on weekends, Olympic sports players praying with a cross after the match, inviters for the Church on a street are Just some examples how Christianity is widespread throughout the country in Korea. This is what makes Korea distinct from neighboring countries like Japan and China, where Buddhism is more popular for the major part of the people within.
However, on the other hand, there is much deeply rooted Confucian influence when seeing the culture in Korea as well. It is so fundamental norms in Korean culture that people do not even recognize the fact that it is actually originated in Confucian teachings. Many “invisible rules” at the drinking table, using respecting way of talking to parents, the fgure of ideal woman and such are expected to exist there as long as being part of the Korean society.
These phenomena are remarkable in a sense that long standing history of Confucianism and newly came yet strong ower of Christianity are somewhat greatly mixed together. The reason behind this is because the purpose of religion after all is receiving “care” from them, especially for the country like Korea where it has traumatic memories deeply engraved in the heart of its people. Both religions have been playing significant role in not only giving care but also healing to the people; therefore, introducing Christianity to Koreans is historically and sociologically important.
A Record of the Words of Ryu-Han-Dang rovides us the first adapting process of Christianity coming into Korea where Confucian teachings and behaviors were strictly conducted. With an emphasize on “Word of the Lord of Heaven”, Ryu-Han-Dang introduces the instructions of life for women in Joseon society. It is a great story to learn how Christianity came into Korean society, because the role of woman was one of the strictest Confucian teachings that basically controlled women in time how to behave and carry on her own life from born to death.
When reading A Record of the Words of Ryu-Han-Dang, there are hree major contexts about which she tries to instruct for the women; 1) the way of carrying one’s own being, 2) the role of wife for the husband, and 3) the role of daughter-in-law for the parents. Although in all twelve chapters that the writing is consisted her main focus is always based on Confucian teachings and traditional instructions, it is with the new concepts from Christianity as described “Word of the Load of Heaven”. The role of wife for the husband is the crucial part of the reading because the union f man and woman is like heaven and earth that drives the world being.
Moreover, wife is supposed to help the head of the household, husband, to make the family stand for the society, according to Ryu-Han-Dang; “the wife is called the ‘inside master’ or the ‘inside child’ for her role in assisting her husband’s virtue, not merely for her assistance in managing the household. A wife should earn the praise of her parents, affectionate to his siblings, agreeable to his relatives, and gracious in serving his guests. (43) Therefore, it is not an exaggeration to say that wife is in charge of not only the household, but also its relationship to the outer world by helping husband.
In Confucian teachings, the role of wives in helping their husband is part of their duties in order to achieve their own Li and Qi; therefore women at the time often suffered from the power of father, husband, son until their death. However, Ryu-Han- Dang focuses on the function of wife in the family being essential existence who takes care of the entire family including the parent-in-law. She is the driving force of he family because it is entirely wife’s fault when husband loses his good heart and goes against from keeping the familys virtue.
Wife is the care-giver for husband more than anything. Just like the relationship of heaven and earth, the wife should always stay calm for the husband no matter how the circumstances are in their life. Ryu- Han-Dang discusses very detailed instructions and examples of the everyday life of wife. However it all represents the idea of how wife in the household is important in keeping peace and the virtue of the family; without the work of wife, the family could ecome corrupted and lose well-being of itself.
In that sense, wife could be more important than husband because wife is the one that produces next generation, the one that balance the human relationship within the family, the one that carries those responsibility until she is buried with her husband in death. Although men’s power and duties are emphasized much more in Confucianism, Ryu-Han-Dang focus on how wife is important in creating not only the household but also the society to become peaceful and well-being with the help of Christianity.