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Initiation into Buddhism

Cho joined the Buddhist sect at the Eunseon'am on Jongnamsan, near Miryang City, in 1937. He made a commitment to uphold the Ten Precepts when he was 27 years old and was later ordained as a Buddhist priest at Jikjisa under the guidance of Venerable Seong-jun. Under the guidance of Venerable Seok-am, he took the 250 Precepts (Upasampada) Oath in 1968 at Beom'eosa. Later, he served as a member of the 8,11 Central Temple Council, the editor-in-chief of a Buddhist publication, and the editor of a Buddhist review. He was the chief monk (abbot) of Gyerimsa, Haeunsa, and Bongjeongsa prior to becoming abbot of Sinheungsa, the third parish's principal temple. He served as an international missionary in the U.S. for three years beginning in 1981, imparting the essence of Korean Seon Buddhism through meditations and sermons. He attained Enlightenment in 1989 while engaging in religious purification at Naksansa, an experience about which he penned a well-known poem.

Buddhist Teachings and the World of Seon

Byeok-am’s Records: A Translation (Buddhist Era Publishers, 1997); Baek Yu-gyeong’s lessons: How Do I Know How to Live If I Don't Know How to Die? (Jangseung Publishers, 2005); The Entryway Without a Door (Buddhist Era Publishers, 2007); and Seon Questions and Seon Answers (Jangseung Publishers, 2010) were all written by Cho in an effort to spread Seon Buddhism's principles and teachings. Among them, Byeok-am’s Records is renowned as a work that uses distinctive themes to reveal the world of Seon and its subtle logic.

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Founding of Buddhist Review

Cho established the quarterly Buddhist Review (editor-in-chief: Hong Sa-seong) in 1999 to promote new, original interpretations and scholarly investigation on Buddhist issues, in honor of the 120th anniversary of Han Yong-un's birth. Manhae Foundation continues to provide financial assistance to the publication, which works to publicize and promote Buddhist studies. Buddhist Review has earned positive reviews since its debut for putting light on contemporary social concerns from a religious and critical social perspective, in contrast to most religious periodicals employed as a vehicle for simple promotion and propagation. The quarterly's 85 issues, spanning 22 years, have just been turned into e-books and made freely accessible on the website.

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Resurrection of Yusim Magazine

Yusim, a publication launched in 1918 by Han Yong-un, was relaunched in the spring of 2001 by Cho as a quarterly magazine. It focused on poetry and other forms of creative writing in an effort to engage the secular world and promote Buddhism as a modern faith. The Yusim Literary Award was created in 2003 to honor notable individuals for their literary accomplishments. Yusim began to appear bimonthly in January 2009, after being published as a quarterly up until the 2009 Winter edition (No. 35). With the love and support of the literary community, it eventually became a monthly publication starting in January 2013. Yusim was reorganized with Cho serving as editorial advisor and Dohu, the abbot of Naksansa, serving as publisher. Yusim also benefited from the knowledge and experience of external advisors Gong Gwang-gyu, Mun Hye-gwan, Seo Anna, Sohn Heung-ki, and poet Lim Yeon-tae, who helped with planning and editing. Hong Sa-seong served as editor-in-chief, and Hong Seong-ran served as senior editor. Yusim was discontinued in December 2015 with the 92nd issue being the last. <br />In 2023, Manhae Musan Foundation is in readiness for re-relaunching Yusim.

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Manhae Foundation and the Manhae Grand Prize

Manhae Foundation was established in 1996 as an incorporated foundation, and the same year, Manhae Memorial Hall opened at Baekdamsa, with the goal of advancing Han Yong-un's national consciousness and his ideals of freedom, equality, and peace. The Manhae Grand Prize has been given yearly to organizations and individuals who have made notable contributions to the arts and academia, world peace, and humanitarian service since 1997 in order to honor the spirit and philosophy of Han Yong-un. The Manhae Grand Prize, likewise created in order to honor the spirit and philosophy of Han Yong-un. has been given yearly since 1997 to organizations and individuals who have made noteworthy contributions to the arts and academia, world peace, and social service. Past recipients include South African President Nelson Mandela, Tibet's Dalai Lama, Nigeria's Nobel Prize-winning poet Wole Soyinka, Chinese novelist Mo Yan, American poet laureate Robert Pinsky, Korean director Im Kwon-taek, master singer Ahn Sook-seon, Father Ham Se-wung, poet Ko Eun, poet Hwang Dong-gyu, author Cho Jeong-rae, world-renowned Buddhist scholar Professor Louis Lancaster, and Prof. Kim Yun-shik, among others.

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Manhae Grand prize recipients in 2007
Manhae Village, Manhae Festival, and World Peace Poetry Contest

Manhae Village, a public cultural and creative space celebrating the spirit of Han Yong-un, was established in Baekdam Valley in 2003 by Manhae Foundation. This was just the latest addition to a series of projects like "Manhaesa," "Manhae Museum," "Manhae School," and "Writers" House", all constructed to provide gathering places for everyone who admires Han Yong-un. Since its beginnings in Manhae Village in 1999, the Manhae Festival has grown to be the most popular regional cultural event in Korea. Manhae Village was entrusted to Dongguk University in 2013.

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Painting by Cho (2012) displayed at the Manhae Festival in 2012
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Manhae Grand Prize recipients at the 2005 World Peace Poetry Contest. From left: Chope Paljor Tsering, head of the Tibetan Dharma East Asian Mission, who attended on behalf of the Dalai Lama; Poet Wole Soyinka; Venerable Jigwan; and Father Ham Se-ung.
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Peace poetry recital at Mt. Geumgang Hotel in North Korea (2005. 8. 21)
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Peace poems installed at the ‘Wall of Peace’ at the entrance to Manhae Village.
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