a man in a suit and tie smiles in front of a stone building

Dr. Yoon Suk Koh, President Emeritus of the Won Institute of Graduate Studies passed away on January 4, 2022, at 95. Dr. Koh accepted the position of President of the Won Institute when he was 75, and for the next ten years guided the Institute through numerous challenges and successes. Working tirelessly, without thought of any compensation, Dr. Koh manifested his dedication to the mission and vision of the Won Buddhism masters. 

Through his selfless efforts, Dr. Koh laid the foundation for the sustainability of the Won Institute, the only Buddhist graduate institute on the East Coast of America. To further provide for the Institute’s future, in 2007 Dr. Koh established the Sungdok Scholarship in honor of his mother, to support English speaking students learn the principles of Won Buddhism. In 2020 Dr. Koh donated the funding to establish the Won Buddhist Studies Research Center. The Institute will name the fund supporting it the Dr. Yoon Suk Koh Won Buddhism Research Fund. Dr. Koh was a strong supporter of this effort.  

Dr. Koh graduated from Seoul National University in 1947 and earned his Ph.D. in nuclear physics from the University of Nebraska, in 1963. Following this, he returned to Korea to become vice president of Seoul National University and a professor of physics and astronomy at the College of Natural Science. He received national recognition and numerous awards,  including the Korean Science Award. In 2016, the Korean Physics Association established the “Bosan Nuclear Physics award,” after his Dharma name “Bosan.”

Dr. Koh received his Dharma name, Bosan, from Ven. Sot’aesan, the Founding Master of Won Buddhism. Bosan refers to one who is a pioneer in establishing an advanced human civilization through the integration of science and morality. 

In Korea, Dr. Koh served as President of the lay congregation of the Won Nam Won Buddhism Temple for 15 years. While serving, he created systems and policies for temple governance and recruitment of new members, members who later became ordained ministers or lay leaders. This then helped expand Won Buddhism within Seoul, Korea’s capital, by adding Won Nam’s branch temples and providing guidance to the lay young leaders’ association. 

Dr. Koh was a lay member of Won Buddhism Supreme Council, where he was regarded as a role model of Won Buddhism’s principal “Wise Person First.” He obtained the Dharma title of Bosan in 1982, and was elevated to the Dharma rank of Chulgawee, rank of transcending the boundary of self and others, in 2000.

After his retirement from Seoul National University, Dr. Koh  accepted the position as Director of Won Buddhism Charity Organization for Disability, and fulfilled this role without compensation. He accepted any request from the Won Buddhism order without any hesitation. 

Dr. Koh was born as the third son of late Ko Joon-bong, father, and Ye Tawaon, Kim Seong Deok, mother. He was married to his wife, Yi-gwan Park, Jeongtawonnim, for 73 years.  He is survived by his family in Korea: two sons and two daughters and four in-laws, eight grandchildren, six grandchildren-in-laws, and five great grandchildren.

Dr. Koh will be remembered as having lived his life serving as  a scientist, researcher, and educator. In the Won Buddhist community, he will also be remembered as transcending the boundary of self and others.

The Won Institute will sponsor Dr. Koh‘s memorial service for family, friends, and Won Buddhist members on February 20, Sunday, 3:00 pm at the Global Dharma Building (the Won Institute’s new campus in Warminster, PA).  

Donations in Dr. Koh‘s name may be made to Won Institute of Graduate Studies.

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