From the Mountains to the Cities covers some of the same ground as Hwansoo Kim's Empire of the Dharma: Korean and Japanese Buddhism, 1877–1912 and Pori Park's Trial and Error in Modernist Reforms: Korean Buddhism under Colonial Rule, but distinguishes itself by covering a longer period, from the 1870s to the present, and by its particular focus, as reflected in the subtitle, “A History of Buddhist Propagation in Modern Korea.”1 A central theme in this book is “to consider what this systematic and sustained effort to propagate Buddhism”—which, Mark Nathan argues, is characteristic of the modern period—“reveals about the transformation of the Korean Buddhist tradition since the start of the twentieth century” (p. 2). Nathan, moreover, devotes a great deal of attention to the legal aspects of propagation, or p'ogyo, which he deems crucial to Buddhism's recognition and functioning as a religion in the modern age.

Propagation...

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