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The Dynamics of Knowledge Circulation

Cases from Korea

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Edited By Eun-Jeung Lee and Marion Eggert

The book is about the evolution and transformation of knowledge and knowledge systems in the context of cultural contact. The articles take Korea as an example and deal with the configuration, dissemination and consolidation of knowledge in certain contexts of the past and present. Combining philological and social scientific approaches, this book is the result of a joint research project of the Korean Studies institutes at Freie Universität Berlin and Ruhr University Bochum pursued between 2009 and 2014.

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Jörg Plassen - Some remarks on the Notions of “Freedom” (chayu) and “Love” (sarang) in Manhae Han Yong-un’s (1879–1944) Nim-ŭi ch’immuk

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Jörg Plassen

Some remarks on the Notions of “Freedom” (chayu) and “Love” (sarang) in Manhae Han Yong-un’s (1879–1944) Nim-ŭi ch’immuk1*

Abstract Through an analysis of Manhae Han Yong-un (萬海 韓龍雲, 1879–1944)’s use of “freedom” (chayu 自由) and “love” (sarang) in Nim-ŭi ch’immuk, the article attempts to show how Manhae, only seemingly following Western notions, seamlessly blends Western concepts into a traditional Buddhist worldview.

Few literary works have spurred more conflicting interpretations than the poetry collection Nim-ŭi ch’immuk (compl. 1925, publ. 1926) written by the Buddhist monk, independence activist and literatus Manhae Han Yong-un (1879–1944). The enigmatic title, perhaps best rendered as the “Silence of the beloved”, has been interpreted in various ways: as referring to the yearning for Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule, for Buddhist deliverance in Nirvana, for a reunion with a lover, or a combination thereof.

Most obviously, some of the dominating themes in the poems are passionate love, separation, and yearning. What, however, is yearned for? The preface seemingly points to a polyvalent reading of ‘nim’:

‘Nim’ alone is not nim; all that is missed and wished for is nim. Just as all creatures are the nim of Buddha, so too philosophy is nim for Kant. As the spring rains are the nim of rose blossoms, Italy is nim for Mazzini. Nim is not merely a thing which I love; it too loves me.

If passionate...

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