By Albert L. Park, Assistant Professor of History, Claremont McKenna College/Im Colloquium of Korean Christianity
As capitalist modernity ruptured and transformed the social and ideological landscapes of 1920s and 1930s colonial Korea, various religious organizations set forth to meet these new challenges posed by capitalism through massive rural movements that would realize their utopian dreams of a spiritual agrarian nation-state. These religious rural movements supplied new ways to understand and envision the relationship between humans, society and the economy by rejecting industrial capitalism and communism in favor of cooperatives that were to overcome economic abstraction and return control over production to Korean peasants. This talk explores why and how the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) under the leadership of Hong Pyong-son worked to fundamentally transform rural areas into “heavenly spaces” of stability, harmony and hope where fast-paced, ceaseless changes produced by capitalist modernity would be contained. Specifically, this talk critically examines the YMCA’s use of the Danish Cooperative Model as the primary social/economic mechanism to revitalize the Korean countryside and create an alternative path to modernity for Koreans.
Open to the Public.
Sponsor(s): Center for Korean Studies
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