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Japanese Religion as the Other in Korean Society and Change in the Mentality of the Other

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  • ‘The Other’ Mentality
  • The Japanese Religion
  • Sgi
  • Nichiren-Shoshu
  • Tenri-Kyo
  • Seicho-No-Ie
  • Political Science
  • Religious Science


In this paper, we analyzed the process by which Japanese religion is accepted in Korean society focusing on change in its growing pattern. This was done to examine the existence mode of 'the other' mentality and its change in Korean society. There are 18 sects of Japanese reigion in Korea, with the four sects ie, SGI, Nichiren Shoshu, Tenri-Kyo, Seicho-no-ie securing more than 100,000 followers. According to the data from the Statistics Office, the Japanese religion followers are estimated 2.1 million, which accounts for 4.4 per cent of the country population, and for 8.1 per cent of the religious population in the country. This records fourth in terms of number of followers, which follow Buddhism, Protestant Christianity, and Catholics. In Korean society, Japanese religion has persisted to grow while labeled 'the other'. This can be explained by the fact that certain circumstances under which Japanese religion can permisible into Korean society have been created and that groups open to accept it has been formed. This also indicates that another mentality towards Japan - this being different from negative 'the other' mentality towards Japanese religion - has been created. During the 1960s, Koreans considered Japan as the evil to deny its existence and the other to detest. However, at the same time it was the other to envy, and the role model to follow in the social development process. During this period, Korean Japanese undertook an important role as a messenger of Japanese religion. However, since the 1990s when Korea became significant in international community and particularly the Korean government allowed the Japanese popular culture to be imported to Korea, the perception that sees Japanese religion as the exclusive other has remarkably weakened. This also changed the way Japanese religion is introduced to Korean society. While the passive way that involves Korean Japanese as a significant messenger has gradually disappeared, missionary works actively organized by the headquarters of Japanese religion has been remarkably enforced. As a result, the sects of Japanese religion in Korea have been reshaped to be a branch with a strong connection to the headquarters. How this affects the domestic religious culture remains to be answered.

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