Buddhist Rev. Seokjoo Passes Away

By Park Chung-a, The Korea Times Staff Reporter, Nov 15, 2004

Seoul, South Korea -- Buddhist Reverend Seokjoo, Great Zen Master of the Chogye Order of Korean Buddhism, regarded as the greatest teacher of Pongun Temple in Seoul, died at age 95 last Sunday at Pomun Temple in Onyang, South Chungchong Province.

Seokjoo was born in 1909 at Ongchon village in North Kyongsang Province. He entered the priesthood in 1923 and after going through life as an ascetic for six years, he achieved spiritual enlightenment at Pomo Temple in Kumjong Mountain, Pusan, in 1928.

He is renowned for advocating and maintaining the traditional values of Korean Buddhism during the Japanese colonial period. After Korea regained its independence, he contributed to liquidating Japanese Buddhism and promoted Korean Buddhism nationwide.

The reverend also left his mark in missionary work focusing on supporting young believers by founding the Buddhist Children Association at Chilbo Temple in Samchong-dong in Seoul in 1965. Since 1969, he oversaw the translation of the Sutras into Korean as vice chairman of Dongguk Sutras Translation Institute.

Within the Chogye Order, Seokjoo became the first executive director of missionary work in 1977.

A cremation ceremony is set for Thursday at Pomo Temple in Pusan.