The History of Won


The History of Won-Buddhism (Wonbulgyo Kyosa)

Part 2. Founding of the Order

Chapter 5. Completion of the System of the Order

1. Japanese Oppression and Korea`s Liberation

The first obstacle that confronted Head Dharma Master Chŏngsan, after his inauguration, was how to deal with the aggressive Japanese oppression and exploitation, which grew more severe with each passing day, as the specter of defeat from the War loomed larger. The Japanese police, who implicitly anticipated the self-destruction of the Order after Sot`aesan`s death, instead witnessed a smooth transition and consistent progression, which led them to intensify their oppression and exploitation. All the bells, installed in the General Headquarters and in the temples around the country, were forced to be delivered as a contribution to the colonial government, and all sermons delivered during dharma meetings were subject to censorship by a police officer attending those Meetings. Not only did the burden of monetary contributions toward the national defense and that of labor mobilization increase, but in addition the agricultural crops raised by the industry department were also forced to be offered as contribution to the colonial government. This caused the provisions for the congregants in the General Headquarters to become scarce. Due to commandeering and compulsory military training, young male officials of the Order had difficulty leading a communal life, and thus were dispersed to various parts of the country under the name of industrial corps. Young female officials, with an exception of clerical workers, were dispersed as well to take jobs in hospitals and factories in order to avoid conscription into Jeong-Sin-Dae (squads of comfort women).
From Won-Buddhist year 30 (1945), the Japanese police took the edification groups as a threat and thus banned their formation. In the end, with the military in the lead, it imposed its final scheme, the so-called "imperialization of Buddhism", on the new Order and forced the revision of the Principal Book and the Rules and Regulations to suit their form of government and their national policy. Head Dharma Master Chŏngsan, while gradually putting down their trenchant argument with the help from his strong supporter, Reverend Ueno Shun-ei of Hakafumi Temple, and a few other people, procrastinated in complying with their demand under the pretext of making a tour of the temples in provincial districts. He stayed in Busan for the purpose of buying time, which tied him over the crisis until the country`s liberation on August 15th, and a new chapter in the history of the development of the Order with a promising future unfolded.