Constructing Korea's Won Buddhism as a New Religion

Self-differentiation and Inter-religious Dialogue


  • Don Baker University of British Columbia


Won Buddhism, Sot’aesan, Ilwŏnsang, Chŏngsan, Ethics of Triple Identity


Won Buddhism is one of the largest and most respected of Korea’s new religions, yet it still encounters difficulties in wining recognition as a new religion because of the use of Buddhism in its name and some Buddhist elements in its doctrines. To strengthen its claim to independent religious status, Won Buddhism makes sure its worship halls, its rituals, and its clerical wear are quite different from what is seen in traditional Korean Buddhism. It also emphasizes elements in its teachings that differ from those of traditional Buddhism. In addition, over the last few decades, it has become one of the most active promoters of inter-religious dialogue in Korea. Acting as an independent partner in inter-religious dialogue strengthens Won Buddhism’s claim that it is not simply another Buddhist denomination but is a separate and distinct religion in its own right.


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International Journal for the Study of New Religions