The Legacy of Confucius in Korea

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Confucianism is a system of ethics that stresses on the importance of correct behavior, obedience and loyalty to hierarchy. The philosophy of Confucianism was developed by Kongzi a Chinese philosopher. The philosophy of Confucianism has been influential to societies and culture in China (Adler 20). Korea, China and Japan have a common tradition of Confucianism and is unique compared western countries. Confucianism is defined and characterized as a system of ethical and social philosophy rather than a religion in the three countries. Within the three countries, Confucianism does not only stress about social rituals but also humaneness which describes love and kindness. The concept establishes harmonious existence between two people and the potential to live together in a humane way. Confucianism was introduced in Japan in 285 AD through Korea (Adler 20). Some of the sites related to Confucius and his teachings in Japan include; Nagasaki Confucius shrine, Ashikaga Gakko and Yushima Seido. During Japan's formative years, Confucianism played an important role in the establishment of political and ethical philosophies.


Introduction of Confucianism had a substantial influence on intellectual history in the Korea. Confucianism legacy has remained to be an instrumental part of the Korean society and has been used to shape morals, social relations between the old and young, the way of life and high culture. In addition, Confucianism is the basis of most of the legal systems in Korea. The people of Korea consider Confucianism as a pragmatic way of holding the nation together and prevent civil wars which were inherited from the Goryeo dynasty (Ebrey 13). However, with the fall of the Joseon dynasty in 1910, neo-Confucianism lost most of its influence and for example in South Korea, only a few people identify themselves with the religious affiliation. However, the traditional Confucianism respect for education has remained a vital part of South Korea. Confucian concepts have been replaced by other aspects of education such as, economics, modern language, mathematics and history. In addition, the importance of group and family over an individual has been emphasized in South Korean businesses. Employees are advised to perceive the workplace as a family. Although Buddhism is still present in Korea, Confucianism played a vital role in political affairs and the education system.

Impact on Society

Confucianism philosophies were important for teachers and rulers to always lead by example. In addition, rulers in the three countries were taught on the importance of winning the trust and affections of the populace and not to always do it by force (Ebrey 14). Moreover, Confucianism was important for the three countries since it created an affirmation of accepted norms and values in the primary social institutions and human relationships. Although Confucianism is classified together with other major religions such as Islam and Christianity, it differs from them because it is not organized. The spread of Confucianism was to the countries in the east of Asia such as China, Japan and Korea through the Chinese cultural influence.

Works Cited

Adler, Joseph A. "Confucianism in China today." Recuperado de http://www2. kenyon. edu/Depts/Religion/Fac/Adler/Writings/Confucianism 20 (2017).

Ebrey, Patricia Buckley. Confucianism and family rituals in imperial China: A social history of writing about rites. Vol. 1222. Princeton University Press, 2014.

November 13, 2023




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