NAKPA Newsletter

Many readers will be interested in the doings of the North American Korean Philosophy Association (NAKPA), the newsletter of which follows. 


A Quarterly E-Newsletter of the North American Korean Philosophy Association
No. 4, December, 2014


Season’s Greetings from the Desktop Editor

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Greetings once again from Omaha, Nebraska, US! I hope this letter finds you and all your loved ones well. First of all, we have just launched our Facebook page “North American Korean Philosophical Association” so please visit and “like” us. (I am indebted to Joe Bolling for this project).

In this issue of the NAKPA Courier, you are able to find the full program of the conference Korean and Comparative Philosophy and History of Philosophy that will be held at City University of Hong Kong, Dec. 12-13, 2014. In addition, the full program of the two sessions on Korean philosophy at the upcoming Eastern APA (American Philosophical Associations) in Philadelphia in December 2014, the session at the Central APA (St. Louis) in February 2015 and also one at the Pacific APA (Seattle) in April 2015 can be found. The first will be focused on the Korean traditional philosophy in general, the second one on the Korean Studies on the Book of Changes, and the last one on the Korean political philosophy. (For details, see the section below.)  I am also pleased to let you know that “The Spirit of Korean Philosophy: Six Debates and Their Significance,” an international conference recently held in Omaha under the auspice of University of Nebraska at Omaha as well as the Academy of Korean Studies and NAKPA, went very well.

Several requests are in order now:

(1) We are now looking for individuals or groups of individuals planning to organize group sessions at the upcoming APA meetings. If you have any suggestions or proposals please let me know. Potential topics for the sessions could be:

Doing philosophy with diagrams, Debates in Korean philosophy, History of Zen Buddhism in Korea, Philosophy of Wonhyo, Hwa-om philosophy in Korea, Consciousness-only School in Korea, The studies on the Book of Changes in Korea, Daoism in Korea, The philosophical foundations of Tonghak, Japanese philosophy and Korean philosophy, Cheng Zhu school and Korean philosophy, Many faces of emptiness (nothingness) in Korea, Post Neo-Confucianism, Philosophy of Tasan, Sudden or Gradual?, The Korean studies in the philosophy of science, Korean studies in the contemporary epistemology, Korean studies in the contemporary metaphysics, Korean studies in the aesthetics, Korean philosophy of history, women philosophers in Korea, The concept of Sŏnbi, The concept of Ssi-al, Philosophy in North Korea today, contemporary Buddhist philosophy today, contemporary Christian philosophy today, etc.

(2) One of the puzzles I have at this point is: what are the top five philosophical works ever written in Hangul (Korean alphabet)? If you have any ideas, please let know.

(3) I am still looking for two bibliographers on Korean philosophy for this newsletter, one for the latest literature published in the Korean language, the other for the non-Korean literature. If you want to serve in this function or know someone who can do that, please give me a holler.

(4) Also do not forget: If you have a publication that appeared recently or will appear soon, or if you have any suggestions about our operations, please let me know. I will be happy to circulate the news on the cyber-space.

By the way, if you receive this email, it is because you are on my list as a member of the NAKPA or a potential member. If you would like to be removed from the group email, please let me know. I plan to issue an e-newsletter on a quarterly basis (February, May, August and December).

Once again I hereby send you my best regards on half of the NAKPA board. There is no question the best part of the season is remembering those who make the holidays meaningful. Hwa Yol, Jin, David, and I wish you all a beautiful holiday season and a new year of peace and happiness.



Halla Kim

Department of Philosophy

University of Nebraska at Omaha

Omaha, NE 68182

(402) 554-3934

(402) 201-9914

The North American Korean Philosophy Association (NAKPA)

NAKPA was founded in 2013. We are now an affiliate group of the American Philosophical Association. The notion of Korean philosophy here shall be understood broadly enough to cover not only the traditional philosophy such as the Buddhist philosophies of Wŏnhyo and Chinul or for that matter the Chosŏn Neo-Confucianism but also the contemporary philosophy done on important current topics in and out of Korea by philosophers of Korean extraction or by those who are interested in philosophy in Korea. At this point, there are neither dues nor special membership requirements for NAKPA. For further information, please contact Halla Kim, Department of Philosophy, University of Nebraska at Omaha, NE 68182

Membership Data-Base

If you have any announcement to make about the upcoming conferences, call for papers, or new publications that are broadly related to Korean philosophy, please do let us know – we will circulate them in the next issue of the e-newsletter. NAKPA is also making a data-base of institutions with courses that are broadly related to Korean philosophy by way of the English language. Please let us know if you teach one or know any. We would appreciate it. Also, for the effective delivery of the regular newsletter at the end of year, please fill out the membership application form at the end of our home page ( and send or email it to Halla Kim if you have not done so.

As for the NAKPA constitution and the organization of the group and its activities, it is posted on our home page at the cyberspace of Halla Kim’s home department at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.


University of San Francisco’s Center for Asia Pacific Studies (Director Dr. Melissa S. Dale) invites all those who are interested in their visiting scholars program to apply. The Center for Asia Pacific Studies promotes and fosters research, public programs and teaching focused on Greater China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and India. For example, its research focus:

•The Center organizes and hosts academic symposia and conferences on topics related to the history, culture, and politics of the Asia Pacific region.
•The Center annually funds fellowships designed to bring leading scholars to campus to work on center projects and publications and to promote interaction between these scholars and USF’s faculty and students.
•Three times a year, the Center hosts the Chinese Studies Research Group to bring together scholars and graduate students from the San Francisco Bay Area working in the field of Chinese Studies to meet and discuss their research.
•The Center welcomes visiting scholars to be in residence at USF for three to six months to promote independent research in the field and to contribute to the building of academic bridges across the Pacific. Visit

Upcoming Conferences on Korean Philosophy

  • Korean and Comparative Philosophy and History of Philosophy

    Date: 11-13 December 2014

    Venue: P4704, AC1, City University of Hong Kong

    Host: P. J. Ivanhoe and Sungmoon Kim (CUHK)

12 December (Friday)

9:00- 9:15 Welcoming Remarks: Philip J. Ivanhoe and Sungmoon Kim
9:15-10:15 Keynote speech: Another Look at Yi Hwang’s Views about Li and Qi : A Case of
Time-lag in the Transmission of Chinese Originals to Korea (Yung Sik Kim)
10:15-11:15 From Structure to Action: The Concepts of Ch’e and Yong in Kwŏn Kŭn (Halla
11:15-11:35 Break
11:35-12:35 An Ethic of Guidance in the Quest for Well-Being (Michael Kalton)
12:50-2:50   Lunch
3:00-4:00     A Hermeneutics of Confucian-Christian Ecology of Filial Piety as a Global Ecology
(Jung sun Oh)
4:00-4:20 Break
4:20-5:20 Ligi of Nature and Ligi of Mind/Heart: A Reflection on Physical Law and Moral
Norm in Korean Neo-Confucianism (Hyoungchan Kim)
5:20-6:20 Burdens of Modernity: Formation of Buddhist Philosophy in Paek Sŏnguk and Inoue
Enryō (Jin Y. Park)
6:30 Dinner at Hotel Plaza Metropolis

13 December (Saturday)
09:30-10:30 Keynote speech: On “Confucian Constitutionalism” in Korea: A Metacommentary
(Hwa Yol Jung)
10:30-10:50 Break
10:50-11:50 Doing Tasan’s Philosophy Analytically (Seung-Chong Lee)
12:00-2:00   Lunch
2:00-3:00     Joseon’s Post-Daoxue (脫道學) Trend in the 17th-Century Discourse on Publicity
(Soon-Woo Chung)
3:00-3:20 Break
3:20-4:20 Confucianism at a Crossroads: Confucianism and Democracy in KoreaYoung (Chan
4:20-4:40 Break
4:40-5:40 Religiosity in Filial Piety and Brotherly Love in Korean Confucianism (So-Yi Chung)

  • APA Eastern Division 2014


    Korean Neo-Confucianism

    Chair: Bongrae Seok (Alvernia Univ.)

    Session GIII-1 Sunday Dec. 28 11:15am-1:15pm


    Young Chan Ro (George Mason Univ.) – A Non-Dualistic Approach to Yi Yulgok’s Neo-Confucian Philosophy

    Hongkyung Kim (SUNY Stony Brook) – Pursuit of Universality: Dasan’s Reinterpretation of the Confucian Classics

    Weon-Jae Jeong (Seoul National Univ. South Korea) – Korean Confucianism in the Chosun Dynasty and Cheng-Zhu School of Neo-Confucianism

    Bongrae Seok (Alvernia Univ.) – Moral Psychology of Emotion and Toegye’s (Yi Hwang’s) Neo-Confucianism


    Korean Transformation of Asian Philosophy and Religion: Ki (Qi) Philosophy and Buddhism

    Chair: Suk Choi (Towson Univ.)

    Session GVIII-3 Monday Dec. 29 11:15am-1:15pm


    Suk Choi (Towson Univ.) – Ch’oe Han’gi on Ki (Qi) and Mind

    So Jeong Park (Nanyang Technological Univ., Singapore) – “Jigi” of Donghak as Experienced Ultimate Energy

    Pascal Kim (Academy of Korean Studies, South Korea) – Consciousness Intertwined:  Wŏnch’ŭk and Wŏnhyo on Amalavijñāna

    Date: 27-29 December 2014

    Venue: Marriott, Philadelphia

    Organizer: Bongrae Seok

    For the exact time and room, visit

    Abstracts of the papers at the 2014 NAKPA sessions, Eastern APA

    Young Chan Ro (George Mason Univ):

    A non-dualistic Approach to Yi Yulgok’s Neo-Confucian Philosophy

    This paper will examine one of the unique characteristics of Korean philosophy and ways of thinking by exploring Korean Neo-Confucianism, especially concentrating on Yi Yulgok and the implication of his non-dualistic approach. The paper will  also discuss about Yulgok’s way of thinking by examining his cosmology, ontology, and anthropology to show Yulgok’s attempt to overcome the dualistic tendency in understanding “principle” (i) and “vital energy” (ki) from the perspective of a phenomenological approach.

    HongKyung Kim (SUNY Stony Brook):

    Pursuit of Universality: Dasan’s Reinterpretation of the Confucian Classics.

    The outstanding proclivity in traditional Korean traditional thought evident in its most renowned philosophers’ works is arguably the pursuit of universality and emphasis on humanity. These two themes are interlocked in their thought, with a shared premise that each human being represents universality, but the form of this combination varies, consequently generating diversity of thought. This paper examines how this proclivity of Korean traditional Korean thought was theoretically formed in a reinterpretation of the Confucian classic texts by Dasan Chŏng Yak-yong.

    Weon-Jae Jeong (Seoul National University):

    Korean Confucianism in the Chosun Dynasty and Cheng-Zhu School of Neo-   Confucianism

    In this paper I will discuss whether Neo-Confucianism in the Chosun dynasty can be interpreted as a branch of Cheng-Zhu school of Neo-Confucianism. Against the popular interpretation that Korean neo-Confucianism is close to Cheng-Zhu school of Neo-Confucianism, I will argue that Korean Neo-Confucianism can be interpreted better from diverse perspectives and developments of Confucianism. Yi Yulgok’s philosophy, for example, can be understood more consistently from the perspectives of ZhangZai’s, Luo QinShun’s or even Xunzi’s philosophies.

    Bongrae Seok (Alvernia University):

    Moral Psychology of Emotion and Teogye’s (Yi Hwang’s) Neo-Confucianism

    In this paper, I will discuss three ways in which studies of human moral psychology can be either compatible with or supportive of Toegye’s view. Originally, Toegye’s dualism was presented as a theory of moral metaphysics and, for that reason, it has been regarded as a philosophical theory that has no essential bearings on empirical moral psychology but in this paper, I will compare Toegye’s theory with contemporary Western theories of moral psychology to show how his Neo-Confucian moral philosophy can give us an insight on the nature of moral cognition and enrich philosophical analysis of moral emotion.

    Suk Choi (Towson University):

    Choe Han-gi on Ki and Mind

    The aim of this paper is to introduce Choe Han-gi (1803-1877)’s Ki philosophy (氣哲學) and his idea of the human mind based on it. Firstly, I will explore how he understands and explains the world using the theory of ki. Ki became a significant philosophical concept during the Song and the Ming periods in China and the Chosun dynasty period in Korea. In order to examine the philosophical and historical status of Ch’oe’s Ki philosophy, it is necessary to examine the similarity and difference between the traditional view of ki and his notion of ki. Secondly, as is well known, Korean Confucians especially in the Chosun Dynasty have been developing  detailed and sensitive discussions on human nature and mind by focusing on their relations to the concept of ki and i (理). I will note Choe’s view of mind as shinki (神氣) to show how his view differs from the theory of mind as ki. In doing so, I will try to look for a unique aspect of Korean philosophy.

    So Jeong Park (Nanyang Technology University of Singapore):

     Philosophizing “Jiki” of Donghak as Experienced Ultimate Energy

    This paper explores a philosophical implication of “Jiki (至氣, Ultimate Energy),” a key concept of Donghak (東學, Eastern Learning). Existing studies explain “Jiki” as an eclectic idea drawn from different sources such as Neo-Confucian metaphysics and Catholic divinity, introducing Catholic God into the pattern-matter structure, “iki” (理氣 eq. lǐqì). This view is not surprising since Chosun Korea adopted and adhered to Neo-Confucianism as a state ideology, and, at the end of the regime, when Donghak formed, Catholicism affected the intellectuals in Chosun Korea. However, this common interpretation seriously injures the original implication of “Jiki” because Choe Je-u, the founder of Donghak, explicitly opposed Catholic concept of God. “Jiki” is not a mere variation of Neo-Confucian metaphysics but a significant move to be divorced from it.

    To make my point clear, I reexamine “Ki (氣 eq. qì)” of the Donghak scriptures in comparison to “Qi” of Neo-Confucian theory of cosmos and human nature, and then trace back to Daoist concept of Qi, the source of Neo-Confucian adaptation. Rethinking philosophical tradition in East Asia, this paper argues that Donghak sees the absolute as “Jiki” viz. experiential Ultimate Energy in a new light and by doing so converts Ki/Qi from a descriptive term of cosmic construction or a substitute for linking the absolute with the world or even necessary evil in process of cosmic actualization to a creative transforming power vividly experienced within every human being. The paper also argues that this understanding of the absolute as “Jiki” indeed makes Donghak distinctive from other religious traditions such as Buddhism and Christianity.

    Pascal Kim (Academy of Korean Studies, South Korea):

     Consciousness Intertwined:  Wonchuk and Wonhyo on Amalavijnana

    Two decades ago, a Zen/Son (禪) scholar Yanagida Seizan (柳田聖山) intrigued a group audience presented at Haeinsa Temple (海印寺) by connecting Yogācāra, specifically that of Xuanzang (玄奘, 602~664) with Zen/Son while commenting on the Vajrasamādhi-sutra. His comment in passing can now be realized in the form of study on consciousness. In this paper, I will select one of the most controversial aspects in the study of consciousness: the enumeration of consciousness—8th or 9th? To realize this task I have chosen Wonchuk (圓測; 613~696) and Wonhyo (元曉; 617~686), their interpretations on amalavijñāna.

    As for Wonchuk (圓測; 613~696), an influential scholar-monk in the field of Yogācāra epistemology, he has canvassed the nature of mind in the second chapter of the Commentary on the Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra (解深密經疏) to analyze some of the most basic onto-epistemic questions on the subject of consciousness. To be more specific, Wonchuk has methodically examined a number of influential texts and theories on consciousness to elucidate its nature, distinctive features and relations to karmic activities. Within the contours of the Yogācāra epistemological tradition, the text Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra (henceforth SNS, 解深密經) has been the fundamental, if not primary, material on mind upon which subsequent yogācārins built on their philosophical edifices. To this extent, Wonchuk’s commentary on the text provides ipso facto intricate analytical arrangements of different stratification of consciousness and their functions.

    Commeasurable to Wonchuk’s philosophical investigation on consciousness, Wonhyo has elucidated on the same issue from a different perspective: the one-mind (一心) or one flavor (一味). Without any doubt, the latter has an effulgent scent of Zen/Son. Contrary to Wonchuk’s severe criticism of Paramārtha’s assertion of the 9th consciousness (amalavijñāna), Wŏnhyo, on the other hand, fully embraced it in his commentary on the Vajrasamādhi-sutra (K: kŭmgang samae kyŏng ron). Here, within the scope of this paper, I will delve into Wonhyo’s philosophical explanation of the term amalavijñāna for two reasons. First, I claim that Wonhyo had not taken Paramārtha’s view on the 9th consciousness. To offer a critique on the issue, I will adopt Wonchuk’s argument. Second, I will analyze the term amalavijñāna depicted in the commentary on the Vajrasamādhi-sutra. Here, I surmise that Wonhyo did not adhere to the idea that the pure innate mind, amalavijñāna separated from the 8th consciousness. It is doubtful, therefore, whether or not Wonhyo actually had taken up Paramārtha’s assertion. To verify the claim, I will analyze several relevant textual sources both in the commentaries on the Vajrasamādhi-sutra and Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra in hopes of seeing any linkage between Yogācāra and Zen/Son.


  • APA Central Division 2015

    APA Central Division Meetings (Feb. 18-21, 2015, Hilton St. Louis At The Ballpark)

    Session Title: The Yijing Studies in Korean Philosophy (2-hour session)

    Thursday Afternoon, February 19: 12:10–2:10 p.m. (cont.)

    II-O. APA Committee Session: The Yijing Studies in Korean Philosophy

    Arranged by the APA Committee on the Status of Asian and Asian- American Philosophers and Philosophies

    Moderator: Prof. Chaehyun CHONG (Sogang Univ, South Korea).


    1. Prof. In BANG (KyungPook National Univ, South Korea), “Simulation and Philosophical Therapy: Semiotic Re-interpretation of Dasan Jeong Yagyong’s view on the Zhouyi”

    Commentator: Halla KIM (Univ. Nebraska, Omaha),

    2. Halla KIM (Univ. Nebraska, Omaha), “Kwon Kun and the Structure of the World in his Yijing Interpretation”

    Commentator: Prof. In BANG (KyungPook National Univ, South Korea)

  • APA Pacific Division Meetings (April 1-5, 2015, The Westin Bayshore, Vancouver, Canada).

    Friday, April 3, 9am-noon (session 7D.)

    Book Symposium: Sungmoon Kim, Confucian Democracy in East Asia: Theory and Practice

    Moderator: David Kim (Univ of San Francisco)


    Stephen Angle (Wesleyan University)

    David Elstein (State University of New York at New Paltz)

    Jeff Flynn (Fordham University)

    Sungmoon Kim (City University of Hong Kong)


Recent Venues on Korean Philosophy

  • The Spirit of Korean Philosophy: Six Great Debates and their Significance in Asian and Western Philosophies

    Date: 22-24 October 2014

    Venue: University of Nebraska at Omaha

    Host: Halla Kim (University of Nebraska at Omaha)

    Sponsor: The Academy of Korean Studies, NAKPA


  • APA Committee Session: Buddhism as Philosophy in Korea

    Arranged by the APA Committee on the Status of Asian and Asian-

    American Philosophers and Philosophies

    February 27, 2014, APA Central Division, Palmer House, Chicago


    Chair: Halla Kim (University of Nebraska–Omaha)


    Eunsu Cho (Seoul National University)

    “Mind and Reality in Wonhyo’s Philosophy”

    Jin Y. Park (American University)

    “Envisioning Buddhist Ethics”

•           APA Committee Session: The Development of Confucianism in Korea

Arranged by the APA Committee on the Status of Asian and Asian-
American Philosophers and Philosophies

Chair: Halla Kim (University of Nebraska–Omaha)
So-Yi Chung (Sogang University, Korea) “Tasan’s Confucianism”
Owen Flanagan (Duke University) “The Four-Seven Debate: A New Look”
Hwa Yol Jung (Moravian College) “Confucian Filial Piety in Theory and Practice in Korea Today”
Bongrae Seok (Alvernia University) “Korean Neo-Confucianism and Moral Psychology of Emotion: Qing and XingQing”

•           Intellectual and Institutional Trends of Korean Studies in North America.

Organized by the Academy of Korean Studies

Seoul, Korea. Oct 24-25, 2013.

Jin Y. Park, “Korean Philosophy: Reviewing the Present and Envisioning the Future”
•           Conference on KOREAN MODERNITY/COLONIALITY

Korean Philosophy Workshop at the University of San Francisco:
Organizer: David Kim
AUGUST 13-14, 2013
“Radical Enchantment in Donghak Syncretism” David H. Kim (U. of San Francisco)
“Kim Iryŏp and a Comparative Philosophy of Religion” Jin Y. Park (American U.)
“Ham Sŏkhŏn and the Rise of Philosophy of History in Korea” Halla Kim (U. of Nebraska)
“The Concept of Minjung: Inventing ‘A People to Come’” Boram Jeong (Duquesne U.)
“The Cunning Practices of the Inauthentic Asian American Woman” Emily S. Lee (CSU, Fullerton)
“Confucian Ritual Propriety for 21st Century South Korea:
A Reconstruction from Traditional Korean Resources,” Jung-Yeup Kim (Kent State U.)

Sponsored by the Philosophy Dept, The Mortimer Fleishhacker Fund, The Center for the Pacific Rim, and The Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Studies Program



Call for Papers


The organization I’m currently president of is the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy (SACP).  We have an annual conference as well as sponsor panels at the regional AAR and APA conferences.  We would be happy to arrange plenary panel presentations on Korean philosophy at our national meetings as well as sponsor them at regional ones.  Below is the link to the website, and anyone interested is welcome to contact with me questions, etc.
Hope all is well. Best, Doug
Douglas L. Berger
President, Society of Asian and Comparative Philosophy
Chief Editor: Dimensions of Asian Spirituality book series, University of Hawai’i Press
Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies,
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
980 Faner Drive, Mailcode 4505
Carbondale, IL 62901
Phone: (618) 453-7434; Fax: (618) 453-7428


Recent Publications

Owen Flanagan, Moral Sprouts and Natural Teleologies, The Aquinas Lecture 2014 (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 2014)
Sungmoon Kim, Confucian Democracy in East Asia (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014)
Jin Y. Park, trans., Reflections of a Zen Buddhist Nun: Essays by Zen Master Kim Iryop (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2014)
_____. “Buddhist Logic and its Transformation in Korean Zen/Sŏn Buddhism,” International Association for Buddhist Studies Conference. University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria. August 21, 2014.
_____. “Woman and Buddhist Philosophy: Engaging with Zen Master Kim Iryŏp.” St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY. October 1, 2014.
_____. “Logic of Thinking, Logic of Engagement: Zen/Sŏn Buddhism in the Life-World,” Annual Ahnkook Lecture on Korean Buddhism. Harvard University, Boston, MA. October 7, 2014.


Recent Ph.D. Dissertations

Sujung Kim, “Transcending Locality, Creating Identity: Shinra Myojin, a Korean Deity in Japan”
(2014, Columbia University)

Quick News and Jobs, etc.

Sujung Kim has accepted the offer to teach Buddhism in the Religious Studies Department at DePauw University, beginning August, 2014.

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