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108th Anniversary of Dongguk UniversityA moment to overcome hardships and make a new high leap forward

 

   
   
 
  Donggukians  practice 108  bows  every  morning  at  11 A.M.  for 365 days  in   Jeonggakwon.  Due  to  cold  weather,  the  relay  only  takes  place  in  Jeonggakwon,  but  as  soon  as  the  season  changes,  people  will  be  able  to  participate  in  the  relay  at  Paljeongdo as well.    

  /  Photograph  by  Jeonggakwon

   
 

It is the beginning of 2014 and probably many of Donggukians have seen people doing 108 bows in Jeonggakwon every morning from the first day of this year. This is due to the specialty of this year, the 108th Anniversary of Dongguk University. At the “New Year’s Address,” the 17th president Kim Hee-ok mentioned that the 108th Anniversary is not just any other ordinary anniversaries. He said that students should consider it more significantly as well. Also, he added “I hope Donggukians to keep the true newness and always wish the best for the school’s progress. Those hopes will gather together and become an enormous wave, which will assist the school to shine for more than 100 years.”


As President Kim mentioned, the number “108” should not be regarded as any other ordinary number since Dongguk is a Buddhist university. The number 108  is derived from 108 anguish, but the true meaning behind is not literally anguish. What the number really means is that people can earn true happiness by removing 108 causes of anguish. Hence, because the number holds an important meaning in Buddhism, the 108th Anniversary of Dongguk holds more meanings as well. “108th Anniversary of Dongguk University can be served as a momentum for the school to overcome the hardships and make a new high leap forward. I hope every Donggukian boosts Dongguk’s unique spirit and make an advance for both school and students alike,” said the President.


In order to celebrate the anniversary all together, the school is planning diverse programs and events that both Donggukians and citizens can participate. The biggest event of all is practicing 108 bows every morning at 11 A.M., for 365 days, which means that Donggukians will do 108 bows for a whole year of 2014. Any Donggukians can apply to participate in the event through online (uDrims) and phone call (02-2260-3017) application. An offline application can be filled out in Jeonggakwon as well. According to Jeonggakwon, there are about ten participants per day and added, “More students will participate when the new semester begins in March.” Last February, the Post had impromptu interview with one of the participants, Choi Su-gil. Choi is a junior majoring in Mass Communication and Journalism. She participated in the relay as a lifetime experience where she developed a lot of mixed thoughts in her head. “I had time to think back of my past, accomplishments and failures,” Choi said. She also cautiously recommended 108 bows to Donggukians who are in complicated situations so that they can also have time to arrange their thoughts and plan the future.


During chilly weather, the relay will only take place in Jeonggakwon, because of cold weather, but as soon as the season changes, people can also participate in the event at Paljeongdo. According to Jeonggakwon, staff and tents will be placed at Paljeongdo so any passing by Dongguk members can participate.


Another huge event of 108th Anniversary is Lotus Lantern Festival, which has been held every year. The difference from the past festivals is the number of lotus lanterns. The goal of this year’s Lotus Lantern Festival is to encourage ten thousand people to hang their own lotus lanterns all over the campus. The reason for choosing the number “ten thousand” is in its pronunciation, which is read as “maun” in Korean. The sound “maun” in Korean means not only ten thousand but also whole, full and satisfying. Therefore, the word implies Dongguk will make a full and satisfying progress in the future, especially through the “Second Foundation Campaign,” a promise of improving the school that President Kim made when he took office in 2011.


Dongguk University was founded in 1906 by Jogye Order under the name of Myeongjin School. From 1922 to 1928, the school closed due to the Japanese Occupation, but reopened in 1944. Dongguk gained the university status in 1946 and has been accumulating high reputation ever since. The school celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2006, which served as a turning point that brought many improvements such as changing names of departments, and remodeling Paljeongdo and Central Library, etc.


In recent years, Dongguk has been experiencing the biggest and most significant changes in its history, and all of those were influenced by President Kim. As soon as he took the place, he has been putting all his effort in improving the school through the “Second Foundation Campaign,” which has a final goal of placing Dongguk University as the world’s 100th university at least.


Numerous renovations continued around the campus, including construction of Namsan Residence Hall. Moreover, the quantity and quality of studies have improved. The number of researches and studies has increased by 15 percent. Not only did the number increase, but also the quality of published thesis, where the top five percent, has showed a substantial growth by more than ten times in 2013. Moreover, Dongguk University has been striving to make it global by accepting more international students, opening more English courses, and increasing the number of sister universities. Dongguk ranked third in globalization by JoongAng Ilbo and the foreign professors and students have increased. The number of foreign exchange universities has increased from 119 to 169 in last three years. In addition, 3.86 percent of Dongguk students are inbound foreign students and 4.2 percent are outbound students, studying abroad. The growths in various aspects helped achieve higher ranking among universities in South Korea. Dongguk is currently placed in the 13th, which is a great improvement from the 17th in 2010.


For this year, there are a lot of events and plans prepared to help Dongguk grow further. First, Ilsan Bio-Medicare Campus (BMC) will be completely open to students and professors, and the dormitory will have ground-breaking ceremony in March. The dormitory is expected to be completed by July so students can take residence in the second semester, beginning from September. The dormitory will consist of 190 double rooms and 20 single rooms, meaning about 400 students can take residence in the dormitory.


Furthermore, in order to improve the lecture quality, the school will implement an incentive compensation system on every professor at Dongguk. The system was applied only partially before this school year, but after seeing positive changes it had brought, President Kim decided to apply it to the entire teaching staff. The compensation system is expected to bring positive influence among professors and prompt them to prepare better lectures.


As for facility improvement, the school is planning to develop Hyehwamun, the school entrance located near the Dongguk Univ. station. A five-story high building with three underground floors is expected to be built around Hyehwamun. Its basement will be connected to a new building which will be built in the current location of Dongguk University Museum. It means that the Museum will be moved to another area and the new building will consist of three stories below and three above the ground. The cost of construction will be about 40 billion won, which will be paid with internal funds and Dongguk International Seon Center’s donation (five billion won). As soon as Dongguk receives an official permission from the city hall, the construction will take place.


Secondly, the site of swimming pool and field will be developed. Dongguk has not decided on whether to construct a huge musical theater or dormitory. The decision will be made soon and Donggukians can have high hopes on a brand new building that is going to rise up on a 7,900 square meter ground.


The third project is developing Chungmu-ro Film Gallery. The school is attempting to invest in new business accommodations and planning to build a hotel building with five stories below and fourteen above the ground. When the school locates an appropriate corporation to work with, the project is planing to begin at 2015.

 

   
 
  Jung  Mok  Sunim  congratualtes  the  108th  Anniversary  in  her  note  by  saying,  “In  celebration  of  the  108th  Anniversary,  I  hope  every  Donggukian  develops  and  shines  along  with  the  university.  

/ Written by  Jung  Mok  Sunim


Dongguk as a Buddhist university is also at a superb status. Its unique features include ringing a huge bell, “Dongguk’s Bell” that echoes to every part of campus and a temple named Jeonggakwon, where students take meditation classes. When students are overloaded with studies and other stress, Jeonggakwon serves as a place that provides comfort and calmness which relieves students’ stress. Moreover, there are diverse lectures that are related to Buddhism such as “Practice in Seon,”“Buddhist Ceremony Theory,” “Silk Road and Buddhist,” and so on. Due to diverse Buddhist lectures, students learn not just the theories but practical application of Buddhism in everyday life. In addition, there is a Department of Buddhism, the symbolic major of Dongguk University, which helps spread the spirit and knowledge of Buddhism through the nation and to the world. Dongguk takes the first in Buddhist university ranking, followed by Wonkwang University, Inje University, Geumgang University and etc. According to International Relations Team, as Dongguk is the top Buddhist university of South Korea, East Asian students interested in studying Buddhism give more interest to Dongguk than any other universities in South Korea. “Dongguk University is the symbol of Buddhist university and many people think that it is a trustable university,” said Krishna, an Indian Buddhist monk studying at Dongguk. Dongguk students also have affections and beliefs in their Buddhist university. Choi Kwang-baek, the president of the College of Social Science Student Council said that he has pride in Dongguk as a Buddhist university and likes the monks and temple in campus. “I like when Dongguk holds Lotus Lantern Festival since it can bring all Donggukians as one,” Choi added.

 


To celebrate the 108th Year of the school founding, some Dongguk students participated in the 108 bows event and others are looking forward to seeing how Dongguk University is going to go forward in the future. Dongguk University, one of the top three private schools in past days, had been in its recession for a while but after its foundation campaign in 2011, is regaining its reputation. By the 108th foundation campaign, Dongguk hopes for the success of reconstruction of Dongguk University that is high in the air.

Kim Ji-yeon  tj703@dongguk.edu

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