Thursday, October 24, 2019

'Hwa-byung' is it only a Korean Problem?

In Korea, the term 'Hwa-byung' made up of two words: 'Hwa' meaning anger and Byung, illness is used frequently. The International Classification of Diseases lists this as a Korean folk disease. 

 

The word 'Han' from the Chinese character (恨) expresses the feeling of sorrow, resentment, vexation that has not been resolved. English doesn't have any good equivalent. 

 

All Koreans know and understand what is meant. An ache of the heart may be a good rendering of the meaning.

 

'Han' is both the symptom and the cause of Hwa-byung. This feeling of victimization, resentfulness, feeling helpless and not able to resolve the situation leaves one with pent up feelings that are said to pervade the culture.

 

Koreans have had more than there share of unjust issues to deal with in their history. The many invasions, the caste system in Korean history, the period from 1910 to 1945 under the Japanese colonial rule, followed shortly after by the Korean War and the division of the country. But the reasons are not limited to external situations of the country but are expressed as arising when people are restrained from confronting their feelings of anger as a consequence of circumstances which may be in the family.

 

A doctor professor in psychiatry gives the readers in a diocesan bulletin an understanding of the symptoms and causes of the malady. Problems affect the body and become an obstacle in regulating and dealing with anger.

 

The common and major symptoms: heat welling up from inside, resentment, pent up emotions, lumps in the throat and breast. The healing process, according to the doctor is similar to many other mental problems in society. Finding what the reasons are for the feelings and working to eliminate them. Both to change thinking and behavior.

 

To prevent the onset of the illness it's necessary to keep the right balance between control and expression of the emotions. It is not healthy to become angry and not know the reason or have a good reason to be angry and to bottle it up inside. It's necessary to express our emotions properly.

 

One can't help wondering in the world today whether this is a trait limited to Korea. With the unrest we see in the world it may be a good idea for the specialists to begin studies on the existence of the 'Hwa-byung' in other cultures.

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