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Monk Wants Korea’s Buddhist Role Known

by Jong sik Kong, Dong A-Ilbo, April 4, 2006

Seoul, South Korea -- I met Hyungak, a Buddhist priest (42) at the International Asian Art Fair in New York City on March 31. He looked tired. He didn’t even allow us to take a picture of him, saying he had not shaved.

“I’ve only slept eight hours in the last four days,” he said. “I finished translating ‘The Mirror of Zen’ written by Master Seo San into English this morning. I came here right away after hearing that the Korean Art Exhibition was going to take place in New York.”

The book is the classic guide to the Buddhist practice of Zen. He explained that a translated English version of “The Mirror of Zen” will be published by Shambhala Publications soon.

Hyungak, the writer of the book, “Manhaeng - From Harvard to Hwagye Temple,” said it took two years to translate the book while devoting himself to practicing during the summer at the same time.

He started translation at the suggestion of the monk Beopjeong, who called him one day and had him translate the book. At first, he declined because he thought he couldn’t do it. But he had no choice but to accept it after Beopjeong said he was the only one who could do it. He translated it based on the book Beopjeong transcribed in Korea in the 1960s.

Currently staying at Jogae Temple in Manhattan, he said, “It is an urgent task to translate major Korean books into foreign languages in order to let the world know about Korean studies.”

“The United States and Europe still understand that Japanese and Chinese Buddhism take the central place in Asian Buddhism. They don’t even know that Korean Buddhism had affected Japanese Buddhism. So, I placed the story of what role Master Seo San played during Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592 on the preface of the translated book.”

He repeatedly emphasized the importance of the translation to let the world know about Korean Buddhism.

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