A Buddhist Colonization?: A New Perspective on the Attempted Alliance of 1910 Between the Japanese Sotoshu and the Korean Wonjong (Pulgyo jŏk sigminjihwa?: 1910nyŏn ŭi Chodongjong/Wŏnjong yŏnhap)
One of the most infamous events in modern Japanese and Korean Buddhist history was the alliance attempted between the Japanese Sotoshu (Soto Sect) and the Korean Wo?njong (Complete Sect) in late 1910, 46 days after Japan annexed Korea. The Japanese Buddhist priests involved have been characterized as colonialists and imperialists trying to conquer Korean Buddhism on behalf of their imperial government while the Korean monks orchestrating the initiative have been cast as traitors, collaborators, and sellers of Korean Buddhism. All the key figures—Takeda (1863–1911), Yi Hoegwang (1862–1933), clergy from the Wo?njong and Sotoshu, and colonial government officials—are portrayed in historiographies as villains. But the politicized narrative of the alliance has neglected two crucial points among others. First, behind Yi and Takeda was a bilingual Korean monk named Kim Yo?nggi (1878–?) who played a key role in this movement. Second, the Sotoshu was not enthusiastic about the alliance, which reveals that Takeda’s vision for the alliance was at odds with that of the heads of his sect. This article draws upon these two findings in overlooked primary sources—about the influential players, the Japanese and Korean sects’ conflicted motives, and the governments’ responses—to draw out the complex power relationships and discourses surrounding the attempted alliance.
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