I have systematically organized the usage of ‘gaebyeok’ used in Donghak and Chondogyo in the early 19th and early 20th centuries. The traditional meaning of ‘gaebyeok’ in East Asia was ‘opening the world’.
In the middle of the 19th century, Choi Je-woo, a founder of Donghak, proposed ‘Dashi (New) Gaebyeok’, which has the meaning of ‘the world is turned upside down’, an innovation of the traditional meaning.
However, this usage was not widely used due to its subversiveness.
The discussion on the succession of ‘Dashi Gaebyeok’ appeared centered on the Chondo denomination in the 1910s. ‘Hucheon (Later Day’s) Gaebyeok’ succeeded ‘Dashi Gaebyeok’, but its meaning was expanded to include the Hsiang-shu-hsueh (象數學)-thinking of ‘Seoncheon-Hucheon (Former-Later)’. But the discussion of this period was limited to the religious denomination level. On the other hand, in the 1920s, ‘Gaebyeok’ was widely known in society, given various meanings, and discussed in the theory of gradual development. This trend could be called ‘conceptualization’, but such ‘conceptualization’ was limited in scope.
The limited conceptualization of ‘Gaebyeok’ can be seen as a rejection of modern signification. This was the case of emphasizing the subversiveness of “Geomgyeol” or relativizing the theory of social evolution and the unilinear development theory. Of course, ‘Gaebyeok’ did not become a competitor to ‘history’ or ‘revolution’. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that Chondogyo figures insisted on using ‘Gaebyeok’. At first glance, this attitude may appear to be an intermittent case in the trend of progressive time perception. However, this is a starting point for revealing the fact that the ‘Hucheon Gaebyeok’ has spread and continued to many Koreans, including new religions.