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On 22 March 2024, the Czech UPF hosted a lecture at the Prague Peace Embassy on the topic: Korea - a country unknown? Its History and Traditions.

Korea, as one of the oldest nations in the world, has been influenced by various religions, philosophies and schools of thought such as Buddhism, Confucianism, Shamanism, Christianity and others. But the nation has retained its identity until this day. The Korean nation has been ruled by various dynasties and today the North is ruled by the Juche ideology and the South is a democracy.

South Korea is today one of the most advanced economies in the world and is often referred to as the miracle on the Han River.

Dr. Miloš Procházka, PhD, Assistant Professor at the Department of East Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Bratislava and Director of Sejong Institute in Slovakia was our guest speaker.

Dr. Procházka gave an overview of the most important factors that have shaped contemporary Korea, with reference to the influence of Shamanism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism and last but not least Christianity.

Confucianism has had a profound influence on many aspects of Korean life, especially in the context of relationships and social order. Five basic relationships are clearly defined: ruler-subordinate, father-son, elder brother - younger brother, husband-wife and friend -friend. Only the last relationship is between equals.

Of great interest is how Confucianism views the position of women. A woman must obey her father, husband and eldest son. Marriage is decided by the parents. A woman keeps her own name but has rare access to education.

With its inflexibility and non-adaptability to change,  Confucianism in the 15th century greatly influenced Korean society; it was separated from the world and today it is seen as rigid with many restrictions.

However, at the end of the 19th century, Christian missionaries, especially from America and Canada, arrived in Korea and spread universal education. Under this influence, Korea began to open up.

Today, Korea is divided into North and South. South Korea has a democratically elected government, and all religions are represented. 

North Korea is ruled by an authoritarian regime which rejects everything 'un-Korean'. The state ideology is Juche.

After his interesting presentation, Dr. Procházka answered many questions, and a special interest was shown about the birth rate and pension system.

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