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Poets, actors and monks help Dongguk University turn 100

May 08,2006

Buddhist priests are among a diverse group of religious and political leaders celebrating the centennial anniversary of the founding of Dongguk University in central Seoul. By Kim Hyung-soo

Dongguk University in Jhung-gu, central Seoul, celebrated the centennial anniversary of its founding yesterday in a ceremony attended by religious and political leaders.
The university, established by Buddhist priests of 17 temples nationwide in 1906, became the fourth private university in South Korea to mark its 100th birthday, following Yonsei University, Ewha Womans University and Korea University.
The school, which initially opened only for Buddhist monks, has had more than 200,000 students attend. Currently, 28,000 students are enrolled in the two campuses in Seoul and Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang province.
Among Dongguk alumni are renowned novelists and writers, including poets Han Yong-oon and Suh Jhung-joo, as well as more than 30 famous celebrity actors and actresses. The department of theater and film was established in 1960.
“In the history of this nation, which will continue forever, always thrive my alma mater,” read a poem written by the late Mr. Suh. It was read by the popular actor, Ryu Si-won and actress, Chae Jung-an, both alumni of the school, at the ceremony yesterday.
Mr. Suh wrote the poem in advance 10 years ago for the celebration of the 100th anniversary. Around 1,500 guests applauded the poem at the ceremony held at Manhae Plaza, named after the pen name of the poet and Buddhist monk Han Yong-oon, who was one of 100 first students of the school.
In the celebration, 30 religious leaders representing the Catholic, Christian, Anglican and other faiths attended.
The groups did not have lunch together, however, as around 20 Buddhist officials had vegetables, bread and soup while other religious leaders ate at a buffet at a separate restaurant on the campus.
The ceremony was also attended by Park Geun-hye, chairwoman of the Grand National Party; Lee Myung-bak, Seoul Mayor; Kim Jin-pyo, the education minister and Chung Un-chan, president of Seoul National University.
In an interview with the Joong- Ang Ilbo, Hong Ki-sam, president of the university, said, “We will continue our proud academic tradition in the fields of human sciences and arts as well as Buddhism, while focusing on developing the college of medicine and industrial sciences.”


by Yang Young-yu, Ko Jung-ae


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