Chondogyo to celebrate Day of Heaven today
By Chung Ah-young
This year marks the 152nd anniversary since native Korean religion Chondogyo was established by Choe Je-u in 1860. The foundation day or Day of Heaven falls on April 5 and is celebrated as the biggest festival for Chondogyo believers across the country.
To celebrate the occasion, Yim Woon-kil, supreme leader of the religion, encouraged its believers in a statement to concentrate on more spiritual cultivation such as “isinhwanseong” (transformation from flesh (to blood through temperament) and “jeongsin gaebyeok” spiritual awakening) and spread the truth of the religion around the world.
“April 5 is the biggest celebration day for Chondogyo. To mark this day, we have to focus on ‘isinhwanseong’ and ‘jeongsin gaebyeok.’ Only through these spiritual disciplines, we can usher in a new era for Chondogyo and our nation,” he said.
Yim emphasized the need for harmony in the future by embracing others and to lay the foundation for the peaceful reunification of the peninsula. For reunification, he said Koreans have to strengthen self-determining spirits and pursue harmony among people. The way to achieve it lies in “innaecheon,” which means people are like heaven, and therefore, all people have equal dignity as heaven, he said.
“I think the fate of the nation hinges on the mindsets and attitudes of Chondogyo believers. So we feel a great sense of responsibility,” he said. He will host the celebration at 11 a.m. at the central headquarters of Chondogyo in Gyeongun-dong, central Seoul, Tuesday.
An archived exhibition to display historic documents and 10 Chondogyo magazines such as “Gaebyeok,” “Children” and “Joseon Peasants” from the 1920s and ’30s and the March 1 Independence Declaration and the documents used for the Donghak peasant revolution will open on the second floor of the Seoul headquarters.
In the exhibition, “Gaebyeok,” the first of its kind as a monthly modern magazine, includes 15 tips for how to live long and remain healthy and introduce the experiments of a British doctor along with instructions for spiritual health by controlling minds, settling anger and maintaining a good diet and exercising properly.
Based on the founding spirit of Chondogyo the magazine was launched in 1920 under the banner of nationalism and was severely oppressed by the Japanese during colonial rule. The inauguration issue was confiscated on June 25, 1920 and two days later extra issues were also seized by the Japanese colonial government. But publication resumed on June 30. The publication of the magazine was suspended 34 times and imposed with fines until it was forcibly discontinued with the last 72nd issue on Aug. 1, 1926.
In the afternoon, Chondogyo believers will take a walk along the “Chondogyo Olle trails” from the old site of the central headquarters, the historical site of Boseongsa where the Declaration of the Independence was printed and the house of Son Byong-hi, the third supreme leader succeeding Choe Si-hyung, and some parts of Bukchon such as the houses of other Chondogyo leaders.
Chondogyo is rooted in the Donghak (Eastern Learning) Movement of the late Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910). On Dec. 1, 1905, Son officially changed the name from Donghak to Chondogyo, to identify it as a religious group.
Chondogyo has led social and political activities as a modern religious organization. From the independence movements against the Japanese occupation to cultural movements for justice, equality and spiritual and moral reform during the dawn of modern Korea, it has affected the development of nationalism and democracy throughout modern history.
It is based on the fundamental doctrines “Donggyeong Daejeon” (Great Eastern Scripture) and “Yongdam Yusa” (The Legacy of Yongdam) with the religion’s core principle being “innaecheon.” Chondogyo currently has some 200,000 believers in Korea and about 130 district parishes nationwide.