The 27th International Conference on Confucianism and T'oegye Studies

Monday - 19/11/2018 05:10
On October 17th, 2018, USSH and the International T'oeguyhak Society (South Korea) co-held the 27th International Conference on Confucianism and T'oegye Studies themed "The universality and locality of Confucian culture". The conference attracted the participation of 50 leading scholars from South Korea, Vietnam, the US and Germany.

Participating in the conference, (i) from the VNU side there were Assoc. Prof. Dr Nguyen Kim Son (VNU's Director), Prof. Dr Nguyen Van Kim (USSH's Vice Rector), and Dr. Nguyen Tho Duc (President of the Institute for Chinese studies, VNU); (ii) from the Society of Toegye Studies there were Mr. Lee Kwang-ho (President of the International T'oeguyhak Society), Mrs. Park Ke-Chin (Center for Vietnam-South Korea cultural studies), Mr. Ryu Hang-ha (President of the Korea Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam), and Mr. Song Jea-so (President of the T'oegye Studies Institute). 

Yi Hwang (pen name T'oegye, 1501-1570) was a great South Korean culturalist, educator and thinker of the 16th century. A renowed Confucian of the Choson dynasty, Yi T'oegye decidated himself to the thorough and in-depth study of Zhu Xi's philosophy. He was considered the person that successfully received, innovated and introduced the core and essential Confucian ideas, especially the complex philosophical reasonings in classical Confucian works, into Choson's social and academic system. Today, although material cultures and the industrial revolution 4.0 greatly affect humans' daily lives, the spiritual foundation is still rooted at T'oegye's teaching. The 27th International Conference on Confucianism and T'oegye Studies was held to share the thoughts and sentiments of the life and contributions of this cultural personality in South Korea.

In addition, from a comparative perspective, Vietnam and South Korea are both influenced by Confucianism and share many common values of an East Asian civilization. In cultural and educational terms, in both Vietnam and South Korea, Confucianism contribute to developing a learning society and nowadays, the heritage of this society is still regarded a valuable treasure of both cultures. However, each country has its own approach to selecting, adopting and applying Confucian philosophical and ideological values concerning human lìfe and society. Therefore, this Conference was aimed at finding out the similarities and differences in the historical and cultural processes of two countries in relation to Confucian ideas.

On behalf of the organizing Committee, Mr. Lee Kwang-ho (President of the International T'oeguyhak Society) said, the South Korean T'oegye Studies Institute was established in 1970. Up to now, it has published 143 issues of the Journal of T'oegye Studies. From 1976, the International T'oegyehak Society held 26 international conferences at diverse places such as in the US, Germany, China, Russia, Japan, and Taiwan. This was the first time an international conference on Confucianism and T'oegye Studies had been held in Vietnam. Before, between Vietnam and South Korea there had been interactions between Confucianism Research Institute, Chungnam National University, Tasan Cultural Foundation and Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences. Thus, he said this conference was an opportunity for the two sides to learn from each other and a basis for positive exchanges between Vietnamese and South Korean Confucian ideas.

Mr. Lee Kwang-ho speaks at the conference

On behalf of USSH, VNU Hanoi, Prof. Dr Nguyen Van Kim (USSH's Vice Rector) said, cooperative relations among Vietnamese universities and foreign universities, research institutes and international associations have been extended and gained many important achievements. Thus, this conference was an encouraging sign for Vietnam-South Korea bilateral academic cooperation. It was an opportunity to promote understanding of Vietnam-South Korea academic traditions and cultural depth. For USSH alone, this conference was a foundation for potential academic exchanges between the University and South Korea's T'oegye Studies research institutes.

Prof. Dr Nguyen Van Kim speaks at the conference

Prof. Dr Nguyen Van Kim receives a ceremonial gift from Mr. Lee Kwang-ho

On behalf of the South Korean government, Mr. Do Jong-Hwan (Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism) delivered his congratulatory address to the conference. He highly appreciated its meaning as it had been held for the first time in Vietnam. He hoped the conference would contribute to analyzing Confucianism and promoting the scholarship of  T'oegye studies. The South Korea Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism will do its best to advance the education of character, culture and humanity.

Minister Do Jong-Hwan speaks at the conference

On behalf of T'oegye Studies Institute, Mr. Song Jae So (President) said, in the past intellectuals from South Korea and Vietnam met each other as envoys in China and made active cultural and intellectual exchanges there, such as when one of the most celebrated Vietnamese scholars Le Quy Don met with the Josun envoys Hong Kye-hee and Yi Hwi-chung in 1970. During the modern period, when Vietnam and South Korea were under the annexation of France and Japan, respectively, President Ho Chi Minh contacted some Korean communists. After South Korea and Vietnam established official diplomatic relations in 1992, the two countries have become important economic partners. He hoped this conference be an opportunity to improve Vietnam-South Korea bilateral cooperation based on cultural similarities. 

Mr Song Jae So speaks at the conference

Next, the conference listened to three opening papers:

- The paper "Confucianism and Industrial Revolution 4.0" by Assoc. Prof. Dr Nguyen Kim Son (VNU's Director) dissected some positive and stable features of Confucianism in relation to the challenges and risks posed by the industrial revolution 4.0. The author then proposed some solutions for promoting these features, in order to minimize the negative impact of this revolution; promote humanity and continue to develop humanistic values in the new era.

- The paper "A contemporary assessment of the 'Four-Seven Debate': A comparative study on the moral psychology of Yi Hwang and Ko Dae-Seung" by Dr. Jee Loo Liu (California State University at Fullerton, USA) filtered the important issues in the two opposing views of Yi Hwang and Gi Dea-Seung, two influential characters of South Korean Confucianism.

- The paper "Thinking about the universality and particularity of Confucianism" by Lee Kwang-ho (President of International T'oegyehak Society) compared the common features of Confucianism through such classical works as The Four Books and Five Classics with its particular features in each context and locality, especially in societies that have been Westernized and thoroughly penetrated by Western science and technology with the aim of creating a deeper and more accurate perspective for Confucian scholars. 

Assoc. Prof. Dr Nguyen Kim Son speaks at the conference

After the opening ceremony, the conference continued with two panels:

Panel A with such papers as "Toegye, the poetic philosopher with ecological spirituality who worship the heaven and love the man" by Kang Heui-bok (Yonsei University, South Korea); "Lee Hwang's study of Jia Li and its succession" by Lee Bong-kyoo (Inha University, South Korea); "Toegye and Eastern studies, the concept of 'heaven' in Taoism" by Pyon Yong-ho (Tsuru University, Japan).

Panel B with such papers as "Two paths to 'expanding ego': The Confucian view of the Sage and the modern view of citizens" by Kim Hyoung-chan (Korea University, South Korea); "Examplars and Human Flourishing in Mengzi 6A6" by Tim Connolly (East Stroudsburg University, USA); "Some notes on T'oegye's notion of the Genealogy of the Way" by Vladimir Glomb (Freie Berlin University, Germany), "Yi T'oegye's "Diagram of the Great Learning" and Nhu Ba Si's "An explication of the diagram of the Great Learning" by Dinh Thanh Hieu (USSH, VNU Hanoi).

Author: Tran Minh

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