C.G. Jung in Korea

A Tribute to C.G. Jung

by Bou-Yong Rhi, Korea

When I came to Zurich in February, 1962 to study at the C.G. Jung Institute Zurich, several months after the death of C.G. Jung, there was still an atmosphere of solemnity hovering over the Institute at Gemeindestr. 27. My encounter with the psychology of C.G. Jung had begun with personal analysis under Dr. Franz Riklin.

One asks about the legacy of C.G. Jung in the world, particularly in specific cultures. I can answer this question only through my personal experiences with Jungian analysis, his psychology, and through my confrontation with the West.

In Europe I had to undergo several phases of an acculturation process. At the beginning of life in Zurich I discovered my Confucian persona, my old conventional value system, which I hadn’t recognized at home, and which I had to critically review in the West. In his journey to Tunisia Jung wished to see himself and Europe from an entirely different culture. During his journeys to Africa, America and India C.G. Jung always observed his unconscious reactions, which reminded him of his tasks in Europe as a European. It was Jung who opened to me the way to rediscover the meanings of traditional Eastern thoughts from his symbolic viewpoint.

At the beginning of my analysis under Dr. Riklin I had many questions. I could not easily accept the fact that dreams expressed contents unknown to me. About two years later, when I began to take analysis under Dr. Marie-Louise von Franz I finally recognized the unconscious as a living creature. I had also questioned why Westerners used to divide the unconscious from the consciousness. When I repeatedly insisted that Eastern mentality is different from Western men-tality, Dr. Riklin shouted: "What is the difference? You have two eyes, one nose, one mouth and two ears. What difference?!” Another time Dr. Riklin said to me: "I let an Americans be an American; a Japanese, a Japanese, and a Korean, a Korean." It was not only the words of Riklin but also the words of Jung. On the one hand, C.G. Jung had found the universal primordial basis of the human psyche, and yet, on the other hand, he was also conscious of himself as a European. He warned fellow Westerners not to imitate Eastern meditation without being completely ac-quainted with Eastern tradition.

In the same context I was reluctant to follow the recommendation of Dr.Riklin who recog-nized in my dreams the necessity to draw a picture. I thought, when I drew a picture in my dream, I’d already drawn a picture. Why should I repeat the same things outwardly? It looked like an arbitrary exteriorization of the inner unconscious contents. All Europeans looked extroverted at that time. After I drew a picture I realized the differences between passive imagination and its conscious actualization. Eastern tradition inclines to let the unconscious remain unconscious, cautiously protecting oneself from the conscious interferences into the subtle values of the unconscious contents. In encountering the West, however, I learned to practice more active expressions of personal feelings and thoughts, and it was all right.

In 1966 I was graduated from the C.G. Jung Institute Zurich with my thesis on Korean shamanism that I’d enthusiastically written from a newly obtained Jungian symbolic perspective. In the winter semester of the Institute in 1966/7 I gave a lecture on the psychology of shamanism. It was an experience through which I could get in touch with my ancestral spirits in the Central Asian and Siberian tribes. These undertakings were motivated by a dream I’d had before my completion of studies at the Jung Institute Zurich. In the dream I was with my fellow men in typ-ical white Korean clothes. In a cheerful atmosphere people made a procession as in a village fes-tival. I was walking at the head of the procession, rolling a small iron disc. On the disc I saw that a ram was engraved.

Since returning to my country in 1968 I’ve transmitted Jungian psychology to trainees, pro-fessionals, and to the Korean public as a professor of the Seoul National University Hospital until 1997, when I founded with my Jungian colleagues the C.G. Jung Institute of Korea in order to focus more on the training of Jungian analysts.

At the university hospital a new adventure in Jungian psychology in Korea was beginning. It was a kind of acculturation of Jung to Korean psychiatry, or Korean psychiatry to Jung's ana-lytical psychology. I didn’t actually perceive myself as the chief ram seen in my previous dream — fostering, caring, and guiding the sheep of my flock, but I felt responsible for the right transmission of analytical psychology to the Korean public. In 1978, I published a textbook of Analytical Psychology as a guide for the public to the basic approach of C.G. Jung toward the human mind.

Korean Psychiatry had been exposed to the strong influence of the Freudian psychoanalytic orientation of American psychiatry. Analytical psychology, however, was warmly welcomed in Korea, particularly by some theologians, scholars of Buddhism and literature. The young psychi-atrists were also very enthusiastic for this new approach. Medical students who took my elective course on analytical psychology later choose psychiatry as their major specialty. The students who read my first book on analytical psychology decided to become psychiatrists, etc.

My primary concern was, whether Jungian analysis was useful for Koreans in Korean culture and how well it worked - a verification of Jungian psychotherapy in Korean culture. At the beginning I realized some culturally determined problems in administering the analytic process. I presented my observations under the title: Analysis in Korea with special references to successes and failures in analysis at the IAAP Congress in London in 1971. From my further investigations and experiences in Jungian psychotherapy I became convinced that Jungian psychotherapy could be successfully applied to Koreans only if one takes some cultural factors into consideration.

Researches in Korea in the field of analytical psychology by my Jungian colleagues and myself are Korean amplifications of Jung's analytical psychology rather than any new invention arising out of Jung's hypothesis of the human psyche. Beginning with shamanism, Korean myth, fairytales, traditional thoughts in Buddhism, Taoism, Neo-Confucianism and the new Korean religion have been the objects of investigations by Korean Jungians. We found both common and different aspects in dealing with evil and in the concept of Self-actualization. I myself have pub-lished three volumes of the Studies of Analytical Psychology from 1999 to 2002 in which I com-piled my investigations on dreams of the Korean analysands and studies on Korean culture in connection with shadow, anima, animus and self-actualization. Prof. Z.N. Lee also published a book on Jungian Psychology and Eastern Thoughts in 2005.

Statistical investigation was not my favorite research object, but as a professor of psychiatry at the university I undertook several investigations with my assistants on Jung's word association test and the Gray-Wheelright Type Inventory. With my colleague, Dr. G.H. Suh we made an ab-breviated Jung's word association test with 50 Korean stimulus words. The Gray-Wheelright Test was standardized into a Korean version. We tried to elucidate the connections between psycho-pathology and psychological types without any reliable results.

C.G. Jung was the first one in the history of psychiatry who tried to understand the peculiar language of the schizophrenic patient and to make an attempt at psychological healing of the pa-tient, sometimes with fair success. I confirmed symbolic manifestations of the archetypal images in the experiences of the Korean schizophrenic patients. When I was later engaged in the psycho-social rehabilitation of schizophrenic patient, I recalled Jung’s humane attitude to the psychotic patient and realized that Jung was the pioneer who provided the basic philosophy of rehabilita-tion in the truest sense.

His concept of neurotic disorder as 'meaningful suffering' has found an echo only in V.E. Frankl among modern psychiatrists. The popular American textbook of psychiatry is still con-fined to the causal, reductive determinism of Freudian psychoanalysis. C.G. Jung is mentioned with only few words.

In an era of new materialism in psychiatry and in contemporary mass society, psychiatrists in the world as well as in Korea seem to have still great difficulties accepting Jung’s total view and approach. Today, psychotherapy has become merely one of many techniques, that are propagated and sold under so and so labeling like commercial remedies.

Even the name of Jung is in danger of falling into commerciality. With the growing public popularity of Jung and Jungian psychology in the non-psychiatric field in Korea the risk of su-perficiality of Jung's psychology has inevitably increased. Many people wish to be 'therapists' in Korea without painful self reflection. Seeking fundamental personality changes through the long way of analysis for individuation is less attractive to the majority of people. But, there are always sincere and courageous candidates for the training of Jungian analyst, healthy sympathizers, and suffering people who are thankful to C.G. Jung, for he has opened the way to a new horizon of life.

In the medical field, one also sees hopeful signs here and there. For instance, there is the growing interest among medical professionals and psychiatrists in the role of ‘spirituality’ in health. The World Psychiatric Association reportedly decided recently to establish "Person oriented psychiatry." It would be close to Jung's attitude toward the suffering person in his psycho-therapy.

The most effective way of preventing the psychic epidemics pro or contra C.G. Jung in the world as well as in Korea must be the regular training of each Jungian analyst and proper public education in analytical psychology. Therefore, since founding the Korean study group for analytical psychology in 1978 I’ve tried to focus on the training of professionals rather than the public propagation of Jungian psychology. The regular training by the Korean Society for Analytical Psychology began in 1983. The training program was revised more strictly when the C.G. Jung Institute of Korea took over the training from the Society in 1998. The IAAP further strength-ened and supported the training of Jungian analysts in Korea. At present we have 18 Jungian analysts in Korea who are IAAP members via KAJA, the Korean Association of Jungian Ana-lysts. In total we have 30 trainees from diverse academic backgrounds: 15 diploma candidates and 15 in Propedeuticum.

What is the legacy of C.G. Jung that should be succeeded? As an empiricist, C.G. Jung nev-er insisted that his theory of mind should be an unmovable doctrine and he was set against ‘lmi-tatio Jung.’ He was open to diverse approaches in psychotherapy and also to the revision of his hypothesis if it did not fit empirical facts. The point of emphasis in Jung’s analytical psychology may differ according to individual differences even among Jungians. However, C.G. Jung’s basic attitude toward the human psyche may be neither neglected nor discarded, if you wish to work in the name of C.G. Jung. As the crucial thing in his legacy, I see Jung’s holistic attitude toward the human mind and his psychic totality that comprises the numinous archetypal sphere in the immeasurable depth of the psyche; his insight into the whole-making creative potentiality within the unconscious called Self; his humane encountering with suffering individuals in the dialectic process of psychotherapy and his approach in pursuing the hidden purposeful meaning of suffer-ing and the intention of Self in the unconscious.

When we regard the legacy of Jung in this way, we must admit that we already had 'Jung' in the East. As Jung emphasized in his studies on Eastern meditation, Buddhism and Taoist phi-losophy are close to the views of Jung. In my observation, however, Jung's approach is more re-alistic and individually oriented than religious meditation.

A question can be raised: of what use is Jung’s thoughts for the socio-political crisis of the contemporary divided world, particularly in Korea, where sharp divisions between the north and the south continuously threaten peace in the land? If one prefers immediate visible change in the external world to changes in the inner psychic world, Jung’s approach can be regarded as im-practical. I, however, totally agree with Jung’s emphasis that real change in the outer world can be achieved only by changes in each individual’s attitude toward the world and the life.

Prof. Bou-Yong Rhi, M.D., Ph.D.
Korean Association of Jungian Analysts -- KAJA