Center of the World, 1861–1863
Between 1861 and 1863, Ch'oe Cheu had spread his teaching throughout the south, attracted tens of thousands of followers, and became famous throughout the peninsula. Examining developments in the doctrine, this chapter discusses Ch'oe's attempt to court rural notables to expand his teaching, as well as the relationship between texts and practice. An analysis of the interrogation records offers new angles on Tonghak, including medicine, spirit possession, popular rituals, and claims of Ch'oe's supernatural powers. The analysis reveals that Ch'oe's teachings were about spiritual renewal and social cohesion, though the clash with the government sent later generations of Tonghak followers in different directions.
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