Korean Buddhist Nuns and Laywomen

Hidden Histories, Enduring Vitality

Edited by Eun-su Cho
Foreword by Robert E. Buswell Jr.

Subjects: Buddhism, Religion, Asian Religion And Philosophy, Asian Studies, Korean Studies
Paperback : 9781438435107, 224 pages, January 2012
Hardcover : 9781438435114, 224 pages, March 2011

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Table of contents

Robert E. Buswell


1. Introduction
Eun-su Cho

2. Female Buddhist Practice in Korea—A Historical Account
Eun-su Cho

3. Male SÆn Masters’ Views on Female Disciples in Later KoryÆ
Young Mi Kim

4. KoryÆ Ladies and the Encouragement of Buddhism in Yuan China
Tonino Puggioni

5. Two Female Masters of Two Eras: Differences and Commonalities in Roles
Heung-sik Heo (translated by John Jorgensen)

6. Marginalized and Silenced: Buddhist Nuns of the ChosÆn Period
John Jorgensen

7. Buddhist Nuns and Alternate Space in Confucian ChosÆn Society
Ji-Young Jung

8. The Establishment of Buddhist Nunneries in Contemporary Korea
Pori Park


Explores the roles of Korean Buddhist nuns and laywomen from the Koryo period to the present.


Uncovering hidden histories, this book focuses on Korean Buddhist nuns and laywomen from the fourth century to the present. Today, South Korea's Buddhist nuns have a thriving monastic community under their own control, and they are well known as meditation teachers and social service providers. However, little is known of the women who preceded them. Using primary sources to reveal that which has been lost, forgotten, or willfully ignored, this work reveals various figures, milieux, and activities of female adherents, clerical and lay. Contributors consider examples from the early days of Buddhism in Korea during the Three Kingdoms and Unified Silla periods (first millennium CE); the Koryŏ period (982–1392), when Buddhism flourished as the state religion; the Chosŏn period (1392–1910), when Buddhism was actively suppressed by the Neo-Confucian Court; and the contemporary resurgence of female monasticism that began in the latter part of the twentieth century.

Eun-su Cho is Professor of Philosophy at Seoul National University of Korea.


"…a long overdue contribution … This collection of essays will also be a welcome addition in the classroom for the study of Korean Buddhism and Korean society, as well as for courses on women and religion." — Journal of Korean Religions

"…this work is a great success, and is an important first step in opening an area of research that will hopefully see continued expansion in the years to come." — Journal of Buddhist Ethics