Dr David William Kim

PhD (Syd), MA (Qld), GDip (Qld), BMin (CHC)
Visiting Fellow, School of History,
T: 61-2-(0)490-107-579

Areas of expertise

  • Historical Studies 2103
  • Australian History (Excl. Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander History) 210303
  • Asian History 210302
  • Religion And Religious Studies 2204

Research interests

Religion and Politics, Transnational Asia, Women in East Asia, Korean Society, Colonial Studies, Asian Christianity, new religious movements, Diaspora Studies, Gnosticism, and Coptic Literature.


David W. Kim (PhD: Syd) is a Visiting Fellow at the School of History, College of Arts and Social Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra. He is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society (RAS), UK and the Editor for Book Series in Modern East Asian Religion and Culture (MEARAC). 

David is a book editor, Journal editorial board member and reviewer:

  • Editor: Book Series in Modern East Asian Religion and Culture (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, UK)
  • Article Editor: SAGE Open Publications (A&HCI, April, 2015 – Present)
  • Editorial Board Member: Journal of Koreanology (KCI, June, 2016-present)
  • Editorial Board Member: Journal of Busan Studies (KCI, Jan., 2019-)

Journal Reviwer:

  • Routledge (New York) (May, 2015 - Present)
  •  Journal of Religious History (A&HCI: Mar., 2017 - Present)
  • Journal of Church and State (A&HCI, Oxford University Press: June, 2017 – present)
  • International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society (SCOPUS: Jan., 2017 - Present)
  • Journal of Cogent Education (ESCI and SCOPUS: July, 2018 - Present)
  •  Korean Journal for Religious Studies, Volume 36, 37 (KCI, June, 2014 - Present)
  •  WonKwang Journal for Religious Studies (August, 2014 – 2015)
  •  Horizon Research (March, 2015- Present)

Kim’s publications include Sacred Sites and Sacred Stories Across Cultures: Transmission of Oral Tradition, Myth, and Religiosity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021), Daesoon Jinrihoe in Modern Korea: The Emergence, Transformation and Transmission of a New Religion (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2020), New Religious Movements in Modern Asian History: Sociocultural Alternatives (Lexington, 2020), Colonial Transformation and Asian Religions in Modern History (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018), Religious Encounters in Transcultural Society: Collision, Alteration and Transmission (Lexington, 2017), Religious Transformation in Modern Asia: A Transnational Movement (Brill, 2015) and Intercultural Transmission in the Medieval Mediterranean (Continuum, 2012).

Researcher's projects

1. New Religious Movements in Modern Asian History: Sociocultural Alternatices (Lexington Books, London): 2017-2020. 


Modern history is a popular topic in global colonialism. The regions of Africa and America have often been studied by contemporary scholars. The topics of global aspiration and industrialism of the eighteenth-twentieth centuries have also been introduced in Asia as the countries of the Eastern world were altered by the wave of Western enlightenment. Such a cultural transnationalism has motivated scholars to explore the life, culture, custom, and history of Asian people. Books such as Laffan’s Islamic Nationhood and Colonial Indonesia (2003), Turner’s The Irish Pongyi in Colonial Burma (2010), and Marshall’s British and Asia in the Eighteenth Century (2003), reflect the curiosity and passion of writers who have endeavoured to understand the multi-cultural and multi-ethnic communities of modern Asia.

However, there are only a few texts on the religious transformation of Asian society. Western authorities introduced advanced skills of technology, navigation, medicine, education, and civilization, but whether they always respected indigenous people is a question worth pursuing. If not, what were the main concerns at issue? The influence of imperialism has been criticised in various ways, but the role of colonial power over the emergence of new religious movements (NRMs) in Asian cultures has not received significant attention. Overlooking this perspective disregards an undeniable truth that the Asian continent is the home of many religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, and Shamanism. Therefore, this research project, New Religious Movements in Modern Asian History, will unveil multi-angle perspectives of socio-religious transition of Asian society. The writings of fifteen contributors will describe the religio-political experiences of each nation: How were traditional beliefs changed to survive in the form of new religions? How did the new religions settle down in the process of modernization? What did the new religions provide to the local people? Did the new religions pose any political challenges or compromises to local government or authorities? This book uses the cultural religiosity of Asian people as a lens through which readers can re-examine the concepts of imperialism, religious syncretism and modernization. In addition, the book interprets the growth of new religions as another perspective of anti-colonialism. This new approach offers significant insight to comprehending the practical agony and sorrow of the regional people of Asia.


2. Syngman Rhee and East Asian Democracy: Political Philosophy, Religion and Korean Modern Politics (Manuscrpt: 2018-2022)

South Korea has been a republic for over a half century (since 1948). During the post-colonial period the national leaders not only politically tried to demonstrate Americanised democracy from the traditional monarchy of the Chosun dynasty, but also socio-culturally developed the Korean Peninsula under the critical mentalities of anti-communism and anti-Japanese colonialism. In this regard, Dr Syngman Rhee (1875 – 1965) has been researched by Korean and international scholars, but this research will re-picture his political philosophy in relation to his religious ideology. Unlike former presidents of South Korea, Rhee was a westernised leader who had a strong network with foreign political and religious leaders. The nation of South Korea received support from international organisations during the Korean War (1950-1953). For there were few Korean people who were educated from the western society in the early twentieth century of Korea, it could be a question if the Harvard and Princeton educated Rhee was not considered as the first president of the Republic of South Korea. It would be another wonder if one realises that Dr Rhee was a Methodist who attended the world Methodist conference in USA in early twentieth century as a representative of the Korean Methodist congregation. His intellectual nationalism and religious transformation, supported by American missionaries, became the internal and external strength for the political achievement of Dr Syngman Rhee who is the father of Korean democracy.


3. Daesoon Jinrihoe in Modern East Asian Society: The Emergence, Transformation and Transmission of a New Religion (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, UK): 2016-2020.


When the colonial wave of Great Britain had been flooding into the Qing dynasty of China after the First Opium War (or the Anglo-Chinese War: 1839-42), Japan, by the Kanagawa Treaty with the United States, experienced the modernization of the society over the periods of the Tokugawa shogunate (1860s) and the Meiji Restoration (1870-80s). The Western powers and authorities sequentially affected the Choson dynasty of Korea as the last nation of the East Asian region. The global imperial movement brought political confusion and conflict between the cultural enlightenment and the isolationist policy for the early modern Confucian Korea. The national crisis left the corrupt government and the citizens desperate with lack of food. Such a historical difficulty directly caused the transformation of society, culture, religion, and thought in the nineteenth century.

The new religious movement (NRM) was another common phenomenon in the same region. While Christianity was introduced as a new religion, there were indigenous new religious movements in each nation of China, Japan and Korea. China initially witnessed the appearance of Xiantiandao, Yiguandao, Zailiism, Yaochidao, Jiugongdao, De Religion, Weixinism, and Tiandism. There was also Qigong schools related to the Chinese folklore religions: Falun Gong, Zhong Gong, Yuanji Gong and Wang Gong. The Japanese NRMs were mainly based on the religious philosophy of Buddhism and Shintoism. For example, Omoto-kyo, Nakayama-Shingosho-shu, Honmichi appeared during 1837-1881, but the Meiji Restoration of 1887-1906 confronted with numerous NRMs like mushrooms such as En’no-kyo, Nenpo-shinkyo, Reiyu-kai, Tensho Kotai Jingu-kyo, Zenrin-kyo, and Myochikai Kyodan.

The transformation of the local Korean religions was not exempted from the colonial encounters, but caused the emergence of NRMs in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Korean NRMs of Donghak (later called Cheondogyo), Jeongsan group, Daejonggyo, and Wonbulgyo arose from 1860 against the Western learnings (Suhak). Among the post-1860 movements Daesoonjinrihoe of Jeongsan group that was transmitted by its heirs of Jeongsan Cho and Wudang Park was one of the most successful movements in its size and social impact. The Deasoon religious community has delivered an innovative voice over the traditional religions (Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and local shamanism) of contemporary Korea. This project will explore the socio-religious character of the new religion in the context of East Asian religious culture and its history. 



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