Religion of Chondo and Choe Je U


Religion of Chondo


It originated in Korea in the mid-19th century. Its founder is Choe Je U (1824-1864).

It was first called Tonghak to distinguish itself from the western learning (Catholicism). Tonghak means Oriental or Korean (tong) Learning (hak). It was renamed Chondo in 1905.

The key doctrine of Tonghak is that man is God. Choe Je U advocated that man is the most intelligent of all things in the universe and therefore there is no need for him to have a god above him; man himself and his mind are the very god and the will of the god. He asserted that there is no difference between man and god and among people. Tonghak preached the need to save the country, make people feel at ease and relieve them from distress.


Choe Je U (1824-1864)


He founded Tonghak in the mid-19th century. Born into a ruined noble family and bereaved of his mother at the age of five, he grew up, supported by his cousin. At 16 he was bereaved of even his father, and at 20 lost his family property because of a disaster.

He left his home, and wandered about renowned mountains such as Mts Kumgang, Kuwol, Jiri and Myohyang, witnessing firsthand the miserable life of the people who were suffering from misfortunes, troubles, poverty and hunger owing to the feudal domination and subjugation and the corruptness of the society in all aspects of politics, the economy, morality and religion; he realized the demand of people who were in uneasiness and despair, being at a loss which way to take. After 20 years of drift, he returned home and put his energy into creating a new religion.

In the early 1860 his new religion, Tonghak, was born. In 1863, three years after he embarked on the dissemination of the religion, he was arrested by the feudal government and executed the next year, in March 1864. His books include Tonggyongdaejon, Ryongdamga and so on.





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