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Ex-Miss Korea wins Buddhist prize

By Yoon Ja-young, The Korea Times, Sept 29, 2017

Seoul, South Korea -- A former Miss Korea, Keum Na-na, won this year's Buddhist Prize by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, along with three other participants, on Buddha's Birthday.

<< Keum Na-na

The Jogye Order noted Keum's contributions to enhancing public awareness of Buddhism, by discussing how Buddhist teachings helped her through numerous media interviews, speeches and books.

Known for possessing both "brains and beauty," she has become a role model for many youths.

She came to the fore when she received the Miss Korea crown in 2002 while she was attending medical school at Kyungpook National University.

She also made headlines when she enrolled in Harvard two years later, giving up a comfortable life guaranteed for medical students here in favor of new challenges.

She received her bachelor's degree in biology from Harvard University, graduating cum laude. She went on to get her master's degree in nutrition from Columbia University, and recently got a Ph.D. at Harvard University School of Public Health. She also received an award for her outstanding performance as a teaching assistant at Harvard University.

Her continuous march forward to take on new challenges is depicted in her essay books, including the bestseller "Na-na's Neverending Story."

The Jogye Order also selected badminton player Lee Yong-dae, poet Jeong Sang-seok and lawyer Ahn Dong-il, as Buddhist Prize winners of this year.

Lee, one of the world's top badminton stars in the men's and mixed doubles, won various medals at international games, including a gold medal in mixed doubles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. After announcing his retirement from the national team last year, he has been playing in professional leagues. The 28-year-old has been actively participating in Buddhist events, helping the Jogye Order spread Buddhism.

Jeong, who has cerebral palsy, is one of most widely known Buddhist poets in the country. Despite physical hardships, he has been giving hope and courage to society through his poems.

The Jogye Order also noted Ahn's contributions to the order, serving as its legal adviser since 1994.

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