Fulbright Forum – March 8, 2013

Andrew Arnold

Emerging Engaged Buddhism in South Korea

Andrew Arnold will present on the recent emergence of “Engaged Buddhism” in Korea. In a creative research endeavor, Andrew will use the medium of film to portray his research on the movement here in Korea. Starting with the work of Vietnamese monk and peace activist Thích Nhất Hạnh, a new wave of Engaged Buddhism has inspired Buddhist monastics to take more socially and environmentally active roles in communities across Asia. Despite their long history of seclusion and remote religious practice in the mountains, Korean Buddhist monks and nuns have begun to follow this worldwide trend, reentering the political and social arena to stand up for the moral and ethical precepts of their religion. Due to its particularly strong institution in Korea, Korean Buddhism has become a focal point of Engaged Buddhism.
 At the forefront of this movement in Korea, three monastics have taken leadership in different aspects of society; Jiyul sunim, Dobeop sunim, and Pomnyun sunim. Each of these individuals approached their environmental and social activism differently, yet all three adhere to their traditional Buddhists beliefs, speaking to a new dynamic in the relationships between society, politics, and religion in Korea today. Andrew Arnold is recording his investigation through the creation of a documentary composed of various interviews and dialogues with various members and organizations within the Korean Buddhist community. Using this lens, Andrew examines the actions of these prominent individuals through their words and will share his understanding of their work.


Andrew Wyatt Arnold received his BA degrees in International Affairs, and Japanese Language and Literature from the University of Georgia in 2011. During his undergraduate career, he began his studies of Korean language, culture and film under the tutelage of Dr. Hyangsoon Yi, whose acclaimed research in the study of Buddhist women monastics forged Andrew’s own interest in Korean Buddhism. Andrew’s studies on Korean politics and North and South reconciliation have also been greatly influenced under the direction of Dr. Han Park. For the past nine months he has been working on a documentary research project on engaged Buddhism in South Korea through the Fulbright program. Andrew plans to continue working as a new filmmaker who explores cross-cultural issues in both Asia and the West.