Ven. Hyangdeok receives Voluntary Service Medal from U.S. President
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Ven. Hyangdeok receives Voluntary Service Medal from U.S. President
  • By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik, Editor Kevin Lee
  • 승인 2022.01.26 17:31
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A most diplomat-friendly Buddhist leader in Korea

By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik, Editor Kevin Lee

Venerable Chief Abbot Hyangdeok of the Cheonman-sa Buddhist Temple in Ulsan received a Voluntary Service Medal from the President of the United States of America.
The Medal was presented in a ceremony hosted by Korea Nobel Foundation at the Center Mark Hotel in Seoul on Jan. 19, 2022.

Ambassador Rodolfo Solano Quiros of Costa Rica and Chief Abbot Park Seung-eok of the Cheonman-sa Buddhist Temple (7th and 8th, foreground) pose with other vising ambassadors and senior diplomats with their spouses and family members pose for the camera on May 31, 2019. A total of 34 members of the Diplomatic Corps visited the Temple that day, including the family members.
Ambassador Rodolfo Solano Quiros of Costa Rica and Chief Abbot Park Seung-eok of the Cheonman-sa Buddhist Temple (7th and 8th, foreground) pose with other vising ambassadors and senior diplomats with their spouses and family members pose for the camera on May 31, 2019. A total of 34 members of the Diplomatic Corps visited the Temple that day, including the family members.

The citation is known to be awarded only to American citizens. Ven. Hyangdeok received this citation as an honorary citizen of California, and Secretary-General Yoo Jae-ki of the Korea Nobel Foundation delivered it directly to Ven. Hyangdeok at the ceremony on that day.
Statistics in South Korea show that there are some 7.62 million Buddhist believers in South Korea and in the past (2005) they were known to total 10.73 million. It means that at the time every third person in Korea was a Buddhist believer considering the fact that the population then is estimated at 30 million.

Photo shows, from left, Venerable Chief Abbot Hyangdeok of the Cheonman-sa Buddhist Temple, Ambassador Mwende Mwinzi of Kenya in Seoul and Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media. The photo was taken at the Korea Genius Forum held at the Center Mark Hotel in Seoul on Jan. 19, 2022.
Photo shows, from left, Venerable Chief Abbot Hyangdeok of the Cheonman-sa Buddhist Temple, Ambassador Mwende Mwinzi of Kenya in Seoul and Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media. The photo was taken at the Korea Genius Forum held at the Center Mark Hotel in Seoul on Jan. 19, 2022.

Whenever people have a hard time in Korea, they pray for mercy from Gwanseeum Bosal (Guanin Bodhisattva), although nowadays many others, especially Christians, pray to God.
There are many large Buddhist temples and famous Buddhist monks in Korea, small and large, and among them are some who are especially diplomat-friendly and among them stands out the Cheonman-sa Buddhist Temple in Ulsan led by Venerable Hyangdeok.
Ven. Hyangdeok is very friendly with the diplomats and invited many ambassadors and their families to his Cheonman-sa Buddhist Temple in Ulsan on many different occasions in the past as shown The Korea Post articles covering the events.

Buddhist leaders from all parts of Korea, the ambassadors and civic leaders of the Ulsan region pose for the camerafor a group photograph in memory of the Yeongsan-Jae Buddhist Rite on Oct. 25, 2009.
Buddhist leaders from all parts of Korea, the ambassadors and civic leaders of the Ulsan region pose for the camerafor a group photograph in memory of the Yeongsan-Jae Buddhist Rite on Oct. 25, 2009.

(Please visit: http://www.koreapost.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=6896
http://www.koreapost.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=8996
http://www.koreapost.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=9308)

Ven. Hyangdeok has won many prestigious awards and citations from many important persons around the world.
Ven. Hyangdeok is currently serving as UN (NGO) Peace Ambassador, president of Korean Buddhism Hall of Fame, chairman of the National Federation to Help Student Breadwinners, police monk of Ulsan Jungbu Police Station, and chief police monk of Ulsan Maritime Police Station.

Secretary General Yoo Jae-ki of the Korea Nobel Foundation (right) delivers a congrtulatory speech at the awarding ceremony for Venerable Chief Abbot Hyangdeok of the Cheonman-sa Buddhist Temple (second from left) at the Center Mark Hotel in Seoul on Jan. 19, 2022. Ambassador Mwende Mwinzi of Kenya is seen at second from right.
Secretary General Yoo Jae-ki of the Korea Nobel Foundation (right) delivers a congrtulatory speech at the awarding ceremony for Venerable Chief Abbot Hyangdeok of the Cheonman-sa Buddhist Temple (second from left) at the Center Mark Hotel in Seoul on Jan. 19, 2022. Ambassador Mwende Mwinzi of Kenya is seen at second from right.

Ven. Hyangdeok also serves as consul general of Ethiopia in Ulsan for economic and cultural affairs and an editorial writer of The Korea Post. He was also selected as a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize by the Korea Nobel Foundation.
Delivering his acceptance speech at this forum, Ven. Hyangdeok said, “I am very happy to receive the honorable award from the President of the United States of America, our staunch ally. And I think that I was able to receive this prestigious award because I worked hard for peace in the global village and on the Korean Peninsula.” 

Ambassador Antoine Azzam of Lebanon makes a Buddhist sign with his hands in front of the visiting members of the Diplomatic Corps at the main prayer hall of the Cheonman-sa Templein Ulsan.
Ambassador Antoine Azzam of Lebanon makes a Buddhist sign with his hands in front of the visiting members of the Diplomatic Corps at the main prayer hall of the Cheonman-sa Templein Ulsan.

Excerpts from his acceptance speech follow: 
While traveling around the world to spread peace, I felt that the land of Korea is really beautiful. We should feel great gratitude for the beautiful land of Korea.
I have seen many statues of Confucius and Mencius worshiped at temples in foreign countries such as China, I am enshrining Dangun, the progenitor of the Korean people at our Cheonman-sa Temple in Ulsan.

Visiting members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps pose in front of Cheomseong-dae, a stone meteorological observatory tower in Gyeongju. Chief Abbot Park Seung-eok who invited the ambassadors and other diplomats waves the Flag of The Korea Post.
Visiting members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps pose in front of Cheomseong-dae, a stone meteorological observatory tower in Gyeongju. Chief Abbot Park Seung-eok who invited the ambassadors and other diplomats waves the Flag of The Korea Post.

Everyone meets through cause and relationship, and I think that all bad things that have happened are due to our faults, so we have to embrace others with love and compassion.
Regarding the wealth that people covet, I would say that wealth comes by itself, not seized. There is no material happiness. Even if you have a lot of things and power, you are never happy. Who in the world has no worries? Is there anyone without envy or jealousy? Life is equal. We have to live together, and happiness comes from giving.

(From left) Honorary Citizen certificate, the White House document, the President’s Gold Voluntary Service medal, and the award document given to Venerable Chief Abbot Hyangdeok of the Cheonman-sa Buddhist Temple Park (Park Seong-eok)
(From left) Honorary Citizen certificate, the White House document, the President’s Gold Voluntary Service medal, and the award document given to Venerable Chief Abbot Hyangdeok of the Cheonman-sa Buddhist Temple Park (Park Seong-eok)

On other religions, I would say: “All religions need to be believed properly. Love is understanding and giving to each other. From this point of view, all religions will become one in the future.”
The presentation ceremony was attended by many well-known civic figures and some ambassadors were invited from the Seoul Diplomatic Corps. However, COVID-19 Pandemic was still a cause of worry and, on top of that, it rained that day some ambassadors who had applied to attend the ceremony were absent perhaps due to the weather.

Honorary citizen document issued by the City of Carson, California to Venerable Chief Abbot Hyangdeok of the Cheonman-sa Buddhist Temple Park (Park Seong-eok)
Honorary citizen document issued by the City of Carson, California to Venerable Chief Abbot Hyangdeok of the Cheonman-sa Buddhist Temple Park (Park Seong-eok)

However, one ambassador kept the promise and attended the meeting and the kind-hearted ambassador was Madam Mwende Mwinzi, the Ambassador of the Republic of Kenya in Seoul. She also made an impressive congratulatory speech which was very highly received bv the attendees at the meeting.
In her congratulatory speech, Ambassador Mwinzi said that she congratulated Chief Abbot Hyangdeok on the auspicious occasion and expressed hopes that there will be greater developments in the religious and cultural fields of Kenya and Korea in the future.

Ambassador and Mrs. Aleksandr Timonin (second and third from right) pose with Ven. Hyangdeok and Publisher Lee Kyuyng-sik of The Korea Post media (right and left, respectively).
Ambassador and Mrs. Aleksandr Timonin (second and third from right) pose with Ven. Hyangdeok and Publisher Lee Kyuyng-sik of The Korea Post media (right and left, respectively).

Ven. Hyangdeok made an impressive speech receiving the honor through the Korea Nobel Foundation. Excerpts follow:
I would like to present my gratitude to the executives of the Korea Nobel Foundation, including Chairman Dr. Ryu Jae-gi of the Foundation, who has organized the Korea Genius Forum.
In this difficult time around the world as well as in Korea deriving from COVID-19 Pandemic, we need to think about a famous Korean wise-saying, Gojingamrae, which means, “Happiness comes after hardship.”

Ambassador Abdulla Saif Al Nuaimi of the UAE (center) is flanked on the left by Chiarman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media (left) and Venerable Park Seung-uk at the Armed Forces Day of the United Arab Emirates.
Ambassador Abdulla Saif Al Nuaimi of the UAE (center) is flanked on the left by Chiarman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media (left) and Venerable Park Seung-uk at the Armed Forces Day of the United Arab Emirates.

Today, at the outset of the New Year, I am as happy as when I was a child with a fluttering heart because I receive a citation, entitled “President’s Volunteer Service Award” from President Joe Biden of the United States of America.
I have been serving as a peace ambassador to the United Nations NGO, president of the family aid association, and consul-general of Ethiopia, working hard for peace in the global community and peace on the Korean Peninsula.
I am very grateful for this rare opportunity to receive the most prestigious Presidential Citation from the President of the United States of America who is the staunchest and closest ally of the Republic of Korea.

Chief Abbot Park (second from right) introduces the properties of his Temple to the ambassadors. Ambassador and Mrs. Bruno Figueroa of Mexico are seen third and fourth from left.
Chief Abbot Park (second from right) introduces the properties of his Temple to the ambassadors. Ambassador and Mrs. Bruno Figueroa of Mexico are seen third and fourth from left.

Who has no worries? Who does not want to be successful in one’s career?
Is there anyone who's free from jealousy? Who is without faults and defects?
Don't be sad because you're poor. Don't be discouraged even if you have disability.
Don't get discouraged because you didn't learn much. Everything in the world is the same.
Even if you have a lot of things, don't try to show them off. Even if you are healthy, don't be arrogant.
Even if you get honor, don't be arrogant. Nothing is ever-lasting in the world.

National flags of the participating countries are hoisted high in front of the main building of the Temple.
National flags of the participating countries are hoisted high in front of the main building of the Temple.

You came to the world to live only for a while. Don't judge persons by their possession or the lack of it.
Don't judge people as being smart or stupid. Let's live all together in harmony.
All is like wind. What are you so worried about?
The joy of meeting or the sadness of parting is just one moment.

Chief Abbot Park and members of the visiting group of ambassadors pose in front of the image of Great Buddha led by Ambassador Solano Quiros of Costa Rica (12th and 13th from left, front row, respectively).
Chief Abbot Park and members of the visiting group of ambassadors pose in front of the image of Great Buddha led by Ambassador Solano Quiros of Costa Rica (12th and 13th from left, front row, respectively).

No matter how deep the love is, it is but breeze.
No matter how deep the misunderstanding is, it is rainstorm.
No matter how awful loneliness may be, it is just a blizzard.
No matter how strong the storm is, after it passes there is stillness.
No matter how gruesome the story may be, after it passes there is only a lonely wind.
The whole world is wind.

Ambassadors, madams and other senior diplomats circle around the Buddha image and pagoda for good luck, good health and prosperity as well as for peace and happiness of their country.
Ambassadors, madams and other senior diplomats circle around the Buddha image and pagoda for good luck, good health and prosperity as well as for peace and happiness of their country.
Tourists stroll around the images of Buddha offering prayers for happiness and blessings. The Buddhist-oriented Korean visitors (majority of Koreans feel they are influenced by the Buddha) feel very relieved after a visit to a Buddhist temple.
Tourists stroll around the images of Buddha offering prayers for happiness and blessings. The Buddhist-oriented Korean visitors (majority of Koreans feel they are influenced by the Buddha) feel very relieved after a visit to a Buddhist temple.
Visiting diplomats listen to Chief Abbot Park introducing some of these properties at the Temple.
Visiting diplomats listen to Chief Abbot Park introducing some of these properties at the Temple.
Chief Abbot Park and the visiting members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps make a victory sign at the opening ceremony of the 2019 Gyeongju World Culture Heritage Festival.
Chief Abbot Park and the visiting members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps make a victory sign at the opening ceremony of the 2019 Gyeongju World Culture Heritage Festival.
Buddhism aspires to offer happiness to all. At the end of May, Venerable Park Seung-eok of the Cheonman-sa Buddhist Temple in Ulsan invites ambassadors and madams, especially of the Buddhist countries, to visit his Temple and receive the blessings of the Buddah.
Buddhism aspires to offer happiness to all. At the end of May, Venerable Park Seung-eok of the Cheonman-sa Buddhist Temple in Ulsan invites ambassadors and madams, especially of the Buddhist countries, to visit his Temple and receive the blessings of the Buddah.
Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media introduces the Buddhist cultural objects to the visiting ambassadors and senior diplomats at the Cheonnam-sa Buddhist Temple. Seen clad in brown and gray Korean Buddhist robes on the foreground on the right of Chairman Lee is Chief Abbot Park Seung-eok, the host of the two-day tour for the ambassadors.
Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media introduces the Buddhist cultural objects to the visiting ambassadors and senior diplomats at the Cheonnam-sa Buddhist Temple. Seen clad in brown and gray Korean Buddhist robes on the foreground on the right of Chairman Lee is Chief Abbot Park Seung-eok, the host of the two-day tour for the ambassadors.
Visiting members of the Diplomatic Corps sit to see the performances at the Opening Ceremony of the 2019 Gyeongju World Culture Heritage Lantern Festival (a 5-day event) at the Silla Millennium Park located in the eastern sector of the Gyeongju City.
Visiting members of the Diplomatic Corps sit to see the performances at the Opening Ceremony of the 2019 Gyeongju World Culture Heritage Lantern Festival (a 5-day event) at the Silla Millennium Park located in the eastern sector of the Gyeongju City.
Photo shows, from left, Ambassador Peteris Vaivars of Latvia; Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of the Korea Post; Ambassador and Mrs. Shiferaw Jarso Tedecha of Ethiopia; Ven.Hyangdeok; Ambassadors Eero Suominen of Finland and Daúl Matute-Mejía of Peru; and Defense Attache Col. Mario Gutierrez Martinez of Mexico.
Photo shows, from left, Ambassador Peteris Vaivars of Latvia; Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of the Korea Post; Ambassador and Mrs. Shiferaw Jarso Tedecha of Ethiopia; Ven.Hyangdeok; Ambassadors Eero Suominen of Finland and Daúl Matute-Mejía of Peru; and Defense Attache Col. Mario Gutierrez Martinez of Mexico.
Ven. Hyangdeok of the Cheonman-sa Buddhist Temple (fourth from left) poses with Director General Demerash of the Police Bureau of Ethiopia and Minister Counsellor Nuredin Mustefa of the Ethiopian Embassy (second and third from left) and Minister Counsellor Amha Hailegeorgis of the Ethiopian Embassy.
Ven. Hyangdeok of the Cheonman-sa Buddhist Temple (fourth from left) poses with Director General Demerash of the Police Bureau of Ethiopia and Minister Counsellor Nuredin Mustefa of the Ethiopian Embassy (second and third from left) and Minister Counsellor Amha Hailegeorgis of the Ethiopian Embassy.
Ambassadors and spouses are dancing in a circle with hand in hand presenting a traditional Korean Ganggangsulae ring dance with Buddhist leaders and believers.
Ambassadors and spouses are dancing in a circle with hand in hand presenting a traditional Korean Ganggangsulae ring dance with Buddhist leaders and believers.
A traditional Korean folk art dancer offers prayers before a Buddhist Hand Sign at the Cheonman-sa Buddhist Temple.
A traditional Korean folk art dancer offers prayers before a Buddhist Hand Sign at the Cheonman-sa Buddhist Temple.

 


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