The History of Won


The History of Won-Buddhism (Wonbulgyo Kyosa)

Part 2. Founding of the Order

Chapter 5. Completion of the System of the Order

6. The First Publication of the Periodical, Won-Gwang, and the Korean War

In April Won-Buddhist year 34 (1949), 9 years after the suspended publication of the monthly periodical, Hwe-Bo [Won-Buddhist Newsletter], Won-Gwang-Sa was established. Moreover in July, the monthly periodical, Won-Gwang, was first published, which marked the rebirth of the Order`s edifying organ. Head Dharma Master Chŏngsan handwrote in the first page of the inaugural issue, "The light of Il-Won radiates in the ten directions" and recorded "Truthful things, whatever they may be, always remain in existence, after all is said and done, however hard one may try to erase them. While untruthful things disappear, after all is said and done, however hard one may try to keep them in existence."
After the publication of Won-Gwang`s fifth issue, it was temporarily discontinued due to the outbreak of the Korean War, but was re-published in April Won Buddhist year 37 (1952), through a joint endeavor of Bohwa-Dang(Song Hyehwan, the director) and the Advanced Sŏn Center (Yi Wunkwon, the deputy director) in Iri. In March Won-Buddhist year 40, it was re-located again to the General Headquarters and in February Won-Buddhist year 42, with the support of a fellow congregant (Kim Baekryeon of Busan), it was equipped with a printing apparatus, which enabled the Company`s self-sustenance and partial participation in the Order`s publishing operation.
When the Korean War broke out in Won-Buddhist year (1950), the Honam region was under threat, which forced the General Headquarters to temporarily suspend all of its operations and disperse all of its personnel to various provincial districts. On July 19th, the Communist army invaded the Iri-Iksan area and set up an office for its Honam troops in the Won-Buddhist Headquarters. Due to theunavoidable circumstances, all the buildings and facilities in the General Headquarters were turned over to the Communist army. Several executives of the Order (Appendix 23), who still remained in the General Headquarters, accompanied the Head Dharma Master to the outer block of the Compound, where they carried out the task of maintaining the Order`s existence, even under heavy bombardment. Only after the Allied Forces reclaimed the Iri-Iksan area on September 29th, was vitality in the Order`s activities restored. The scattered documents and disarrayed housing were put in working order, and preparations for setting the Order`s operations in good condition were made.
On October 4th, upon Head Dharma Master Chŏngsan`s command, official letters were sent out to various temples, that outlined the following directives: 1) thorough and exhaustive guidance was to be provided to the congregants to lead them to act harmoniously based on the truth of Il-Won, and to steer them clear of acting on impulse or revenge; 2) the families devastated by the war were to be paid a consolation visit, without fail, and a Cheon-Do-Jae (Memorial Service for the Departed Spirit`s Journey into Nirvana) for the victims was to be performed in each temple; 3) regular dharma meetings and nightly dharma meetings were to be strictly carried out again in temples not under threat.
The evidence of war was culpable, especially the complete destruction by fire of the Bo-Hwa-Won in Seoul, and the long-term ordeals suffered by the temples in the Yeonggwang region. Temples such as Yeong-San-Wan had to be completely evacuated, and other temples in Kaeseong and Chuncheon were temporarily evacuated. The number of congregants who fell victim to the War was three from the ordained (Jeonmu-Chulshin) and five from the laity.