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It is well known that Kores’s traditional morality has been strongly influenced by Confucianism centered around the family. On the other hand, today’s Korean student has the preconceived notion that Confucian moral philosophy is “obsolete” and that the family trend should also be drastically revised. However, our survey on the student’s moral view unexpectedly shows that he is conservative and that he is actually not so far away from the traditional moral views of Confucianism as he thinks he is. The Korean student agrees in principle that he should uphold filial duties and he does not dare deny parental merits or his duty to support his parents in their old age. . . . It is difficult, based on a man’s behavior, to conclude that he takes more care of his parents than he does of his wife and children. Thirty years ago the young Korean man not only thought he did but he actually did care of his parents more than for his wife and children. But the actual behavior of today’s young man shows he is not so strictly bound by his moral obligations even though he continues to think he is. The Korean college student agrees in principle with filial duty on the one hand but, on the other hand, he is not blindly devoted to his parents as Confucian morals would dictate. Instead, he believes that impractical elements should be eliminated from the traditional notion of “filial duty.” For instance, the average Korean does not think it right to sacrifice the freedom of his children for the sake filial duty, or to abandon an oppurtunity to study abroad in order to be with and care for his parents, and he does not agree with the unscientific notion that failure to produce male children is contrary to filial
the status of wife and daughters was inferior to that of father and sons. However. and particularly. few atudents call for the total abrogation of such ritual but many favor shortening the traditional “three-year period of mourning” and abandoning the custom that prescribed “circumspection in penance for sins”(the death of parents was traditionally attributed to the sins of sons and daughters). . However. the economic realities of society. . . as is well known. it is found that few college students have completely abandoned the traditional idea that there are professional barriers between man and woman. . The feudal society under Confucianism prescribed human relations in the order of superiors and inferiors. benn nullified in modern society and woman’s social status is being greatly enhanced. Funeral and memorial services for one’s parents and grandparents are extensions of the Confucian concept of filial duty. and undr such a system of social hierarchy woman could not but be socially inferior to man. many believe that linguistic differences when a man addresses his wife and when his wife addresses him must be done away with. today’s Korean youth trespasses the final decision concerning marriage should be made by the couple involve.duty. . in principle. and that chastity in a man is demanded just as much as honor is in a woman. In matter of marriage. . However. For instance. Korean college students welcome this development and most of them want equality of the sexes to be promoted even more. This idea of man’s predominance over woman was clearly reflected in family morality. discrimination between sexes has. This is interpreted as meaning that students reflect common sense that ritual should always befit the social. .
Their ideal is the person who lives in poverty but who has knowledge and integrity and not the man who enjoys wealth and power but lacks knowledge and character . . . Confucianists were most strict concerning sexual morals.Another characteristic peculiar to Korea’s traditional moral values conditioned by Confucianism and Buddhism is the predominance of spiritual values over material or physical values. but few retain such an attitude nowadays . . Although the opinions on sexual morals are said to be quite freed from tradtion they are still conservative in comparison to their Western counterparts. . they will become just and honest men that at the same time they treasure such spiritual values as the arts and friendship more than mere material values. They also believe that. ven if they live on the verge of starvation. . Korean students do not think it is good to have premarital sexual relations . and Korean college students seem to have inherited this intact. Such a conservative opinion has been maintained according to the letter but it has undergone such drastic changes that in actual practice few take feudalistic sexual morals without question. It is probably in sex that Korean students have managed to free themselves completely from the traditional moral code. . As the old saying “Boys and girls cannot sit in the same place after they turn seven” indicates. . replete with knowledge and the virtues than to become a technician skilled in one particular field only. Most of them believe that is better to become a man of character. . . and that amassing a fortune or succeeding in life justifies the means. For instance. Some thirty years ago it was commonly considered “bad” for a student to befriend a girl. .
It is thought that the reason why students still pay respect to the political ideas of Confucius and Mencius is. . the Confucian ideal of rule by virtue and favor. .We can draw the coclusion that today’s Korean college student does not desire to adhere blindly to the Confucian tradition concerning morals nor does he want to abandon tradition entirely . Korean students appear very critical on this point. The sensitivity to social justice among Koreaan college students of today appears keener than that of the old Confucianist. it is something different from modern democratic ideals. no student believes that it will ever be possible be to realize the “rule by virtue” envisaged by Confucius and Mencius. more often than not. that they believe man’s inherent noble spirit is in conformity to rule by virtue and democracy. . Of course. it will be welcomed. Such a keen sensitivity with respect to social justice makes them consider it a matter of course that they actively criticize the government and this at the same time gives rise to positive social participation. a form of democracy based on the teachings of Mencius. they are very skeptical about formal democracy which brings only hardship. . at least partially. and few find the ancient democracy of Mencius satisfactory in comparison to modern democracy. Due to the fact that Confucian political ideology is founded upon feudal society. Korean students appear to have inherited. As for political matters. If there is any way that guarantees both stability in material life and spiritual freedom. for it allowed good-intentioned dictatorship. this may be considered to indicate that their desire for democracy has become so much more urgent.
indeed. Herein lies the urgent need to establish a new morality with which our actions can be in accord. in some cases the idea must be changed and in others the action must be geared in another direction. . the tendency to slight material values is gradually fading among the younger generation while they tend to stress the importance of material living. but such a gap appears to be unusually wide in the Korea of today. there is confusion between the ideas that are still bound to family traditions and behavior that inclines ever more to the new current of individualism. . Knowing the importance of the material life. It is. they reject individualism at least in their concious view of values and morals. In other words. Korean college students long for rational consumption and because of this they reject empty formalities and extravagance . It may be common to all peoples of all ages that there is a gap between what one thinks and what he actually does. that individualism gradually holds sway over them. It is thought that the younger generation in Korea today thinks it better to realize spiritual values on the foundation of more stable material life.The traditional virtue of the Orient which treasures spiritual vaalues far more than material or physical values is still held by a great number of Korean students. But it is difficult to deny from their actual behavior. Because Korean students still live under the strong influences of traditional moral views concerning the family they are not yet fully prepared to embrace Western individualism in its entirety. . . one of the most important tasks people in a new age face to endeavor to narrow the gap between ideas and actions. However.