The History of Won


The History of Won-Buddhism (Wonbulgyo Kyosa)

Part 3. Fruition of the Sacred Work

Chapter 4. Moving Forward with the Fruition of the Sacred Work

5. Taking Part in Religious Cooperation and Launching Overseas Propagation

In April Won-Buddhist year 50 (1965), the General Headquarters` Seoul Branch Office (with Yi Wunkwon as the head) reopened. It was the measure taken by the new Order to further promote its domestic fruition upon entering the 1950`s. Finally, in June of that year, Hwang Jeongsinhang and two others (Appendix 27) participated as the Won-Buddhist delegates in the meeting of religious persons representing the six major religious denominations in Korea: Buddhism, Confucianism, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Cheon-Do-Gyo. In December, the Religious Persons` Association of Korea was inaugurated, and the new Order became one of the six member religions of the Association.
The Seoul Branch Office also began the monthly publication of the "Religious Circle" (with Yi Eunsuk as the editor-in-chief) and by setting up the Association`s office within its office, it seemed as though it would become the center of religious cooperation. Although the monthly periodical had suspended publication after seven issues, due to financial hardship, discussions about the new Order that the periodical brought forward, served as an opportunity to inform the world of the status of the new Order.
In February Won-Buddhist year 51 (1966), negotiations with the government to dispatch Won-Buddhist ministers as military chaplains began. On October 15th of the same year, the third research meeting of the Religious Persons` Association, (which was the meeting for the understanding of Won-Buddhism), was held at the General Headquarters. This in turn led the people of other religious denominations to become aware of the new Order. Since then, the Order actively took part in the activities of the Association. The Order`s Chief Administrator (Pak Jangsik) in February Won-Buddhist year 55 (1970), and the speaker of the General Assembly (Mun Donghyeon) in December Won-Buddhist year 56 (1971), were respectively elected to be the vice president of the Association.
Meanwhile, the Won-Buddhism Research Society of Won-kwang College, acting in concert with the Order`s religious cooperation activities, started the University Students`Religious Festival, which turned into a regular practice for many years. In November Won-Buddhist year 52 (1967), the representative from the Youth Association participated in a social meeting of other youth representatives fromseven major religions, through which measures to solidify religious cooperation were proposed. Pak Jangsik and many other representatives of the Order participated in the World Conference of Buddhist Leaders held in Seoul in October Won-Buddhist year 55 (1970), and the following year, they participated in the Korea-Japan Buddhists` Friendship Seminar, which was held in Busan in July Won- Buddhist year 56 (1971). This marked the beginning of international religious cooperation activities.
The overseas propagation objective, which the Order had been meaning to accomplish since the early 1940`s, took its first step when Pak Kwangjeon and 2 others (Appendix 28) visited Japan for a month in search of an opportunity to propagate in Japan. Two Americans who read the English booklet "Won-Buddhism" and articles written about the new Order in the overseas Buddhist papers joined the Order for the first time. In Won-Buddhist year 50 (1965), the provisional version of the "Won-Buddhism Handbook" was translated into Chinese, German, and Japanese while the new Order was first introduced in a Chinese newspaper. In March Won-Buddhist year 51 (1966), a minister (Seo Sein) was dispatched to Japan for two months, again to search for ways to propagate. In November, Hwang Jeongsinhang was sent to the World Conference of Buddhists held in Thailand, while Yi Kongju was sent on a tour of Hongkong, Thailand, and Japan. In August Won-Buddhist year 52 (1967), the students who had been studying in the United States (Jeon Palgeun and Jeong Chuseong) were placed in charge of American affairs for the first time. That year, the Principal Book was published in Chinese as a provisional version. In September Won- Buddhist year 53 (1968), Yi Wunkwon was sent to China for an inspection of the Chinese Buddhist Circle while in December, the Dharmakaya Buddha was enshrined for the first time in the home of a believer in New York who was of American nationality. Dr. Kang Wijo, a religious scholar, introduced the new Order to the American academic circle by presenting the result of his study entitled "Won-Buddhism of Korea and Korean Society".
In April Won-Buddhist year 54 (1969), Kim Jeongyong was sent to participate in the World Conference of Buddhists held in Malaysia and in the same year the English version of the Won-Buddhism Handbook was published. In July 1969, a student studying in China (Kim Daehyeon) was placed in charge of the affairs in China for the first time. In July Won- Buddhist year 55 (1970), Pak Jangsik was sent for 10 days to inspect Japan`s religious circle and in October, Pak Kwangjeon and three others (Appendix 29) were dispatched to the First World Peace Conference of Religious Persons held in Japan. This marked the Order`s first participation in international religious cooperation activities. Prominent religious figures were invited to the Order`s half centennial commemoration conference. Also, in May Won-Buddhist year 56 (1971), Pak Kwangjeon and three others (Appendix 30) participated in the Peace Conference of Religious Persons to Promote World Federation, and in October, the Scripture of Won-Buddhism, the English Version (translated by Jeon Palgeun) was published as one of the half centennial commemoration projects. Entering the 50`s, the new Order began to further direct its attention to overseas propagation.