Fri. Jinwoo, the new president of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, South Korea’s largest Buddhist order, officially took office today, marking the official start of his four-year term.
Earlier in the day, the monk arrived at Jogyesa, a late 14th-century temple in downtown Seoul that became the order’s main temple in 1936. There he paid homage during a ceremony held in the main hall of the temple before taking office.
The Jogye Order is a school of Seon (Zen) Buddhism with roots dating back 1,200 years to the unified Silla Kingdom (also known as the Later Silla) (668–935). The Jogye school as a distinct entity emerged in the late 11th century when the monk Bojo Jinul, credited as the school’s founder, sought to combine Seon practices with the theological foundations of Buddhist schools based on the sutras, including Korean Pure Land Buddhism. The order now represents the largest segment of South Korea’s Buddhist population, administering around 1,900 active temples, more than 13,000 monks and seven million lay worshipers nationwide.
The Jogye Order maintains a vast collection of historic Buddhist artifacts which make up nearly 70% of all Korean cultural property. The order is also active in interfaith activities as a member of the Korean Council of Religious Leaders, along with representatives from Korea’s Christian, Confucian, and traditional religious communities.
The Supreme Patriarch (or jongjeong, 종정) of the Jogye Order, who began his five-year term in March this year, is Ven. Seongpa, although the power of the organization is concentrated in its administrative division, which controls all financial and administrative decisions.
Fri. Jinwoo was elected as the 37th President of the Jogye Order last month, replacing his predecessor Ven. Wonhaeng, in an unopposed vote. This is the first time the Jogye Order has elected its leader through a clear winner-take-all election since the order adopted the new system in 2019. Ven. Jinwoo’s nomination was finalized in a special selection session last month by the Central Council of Senior Monks of the order. In 2018, Ven. Wonhaeng was elected to a four-year term by a majority of 235 votes out of 315.*
Born in 1961, Ven. Jinwoo was ordained in 1978 and has held several leadership positions within the Jogye Order.
According to 2015 national census data, the majority of South Korea’s population (56.1%) has no religious affiliation. Christians are the largest religious segment of the population at 27.6%, while Buddhists make up 15.5%.
* The Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism elects a new chief monk (BDG)
Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism
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