chapter  2
Su-un’s Life and Times
Pages 22

The Donghak religion grew and expanded after the execution of Su-un due to a variety of reasons, some of which have already been considered. In Korean and East Asian history, however, the term Donghak is not associated solely with Choe Su-un and the Donghak/Cheondo-gyo religion. The chapter examines briefly historical events which shaped the Korean peninsula in this crucial period of Korea's history. This examination will attempt to place Su-un and the religion he founded in historical perspective, so that the elements which contributed to the emergence of Donghak as a religious and political force can be identified within the context of the national and international events which surrounded them. The political focus of the Donghak organization under Haewol's leadership was initially directed towards exerting pressure on the central government to exonerate Su-un and to allow the Donghak faithful to practice their religion openly and without persecution.