The South Korean Buddhist Chaplaincy: Buddhist Militarism, Violence, and Freedom


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


Asian Languages and Cultures


Studies have shown the lasting impact of militarism and violence on gender, class, the economy, and religion in Korea’s 20th century history. This dissertation seeks to explain Korean Buddhism’s place in these developments through a study of the Buddhist military chaplaincy. It centers the chaplaincy because it represents continuity in a long history of war and violence in Korean Buddhism while bridging the colonial, early South Korean, and contemporary periods of modern Korean history. The chaplaincy deepened ties between the major Buddhist order and the government. State violence acquired justification from the Buddhist community. The South Korean Buddhist military chaplaincy is a distinct example of religious violence that overlaps with issues of religious freedom, militarism, and politics.