Peace Foundation and JTS Board Meetings;
Dharma Q&A for the Korea Producers and Directors Association

February 20, 2024

Hello! Today we have the annual board meetings of the Peace Foundation and JTS, socially engaged organizations founded by Ven. Pomnyun Sunim.

After morning practice and meditation, Sunim made his way to the Peace Foundation to attend a meeting with experts focused on gaining a comprehensive understanding of the reality of life in North Korea. 

At 7 am, they shared breakfast, then, at 10 am, Peace Foundation board members gathered for their regular board meeting. 

After the announcement of the formal start of the meeting and confirmation of a quorum, Ven. Pomnyun Sunim, chairperson of the Peace Foundation, delivered his opening remarks. 

After these opening comments, there was a presentation on project performances and financial statements for 2023, followed by an overview of project plans and budget for 2024. All board members unanimously approved the plans and budget. 

After lunch, Sunim attended the JTS board meeting at 12:30 pm. 

JTS is an international NGO established by Ven. Pomnyun Sunim in 1993 with the aim of eradicating hunger, disease, and illiteracy. Some board members attended the meeting in person, while others joined online. After presentations on project performances and financial statements for 2023 and plans and budget for 2024, the board members reviewed the materials and posed questions. 

Several questions were raised concerning the project plans. One board member proposed that JTS should increase its efforts in publicizing its activities. 

Why not consider more proactive publicity efforts?

“In the past year, JTS has expanded its projects across various countries, including in Southeast Asia. I believe that producing PR videos showcasing our relief efforts at these sites with drone footage could significantly enhance our PR impact. Given the multitude of beneficial activities in which JTS is involved, why not consider more proactive publicity efforts?”

After thorough questioning and discussion, the project plans were approved unanimously, and the meeting concluded with a resounding round of applause. 

After the board meeting, Sunim went to a funeral home to pay his respects to the late Kim Myung-hyuk, senior pastor of Kangbyun Presbyterian Church. He was accompanied by a priest, a pastor, and a supreme leader of Chondogyo, who have collectively served as members of the Association of Religious Leaders for National Reconciliation and Peace (ARLNRP) for the past 20 years.

Reverend Kim Myung-hyuk died in a car accident yesterday. He was the founder of Kangbyun Presbyterian Church, and served as chairperson of the Korea Evangelical Fellowship. Despite being a prominent conservative Christian, he actively participated in aiding North Koreans as a member of the ARLNRP. His sudden passing saddened everyone, but Sunim lightened the mood with a comforting remark. 

Initially, the religious leaders contemplated sending a funeral wreath, but ultimately decided against it to honor the late reverend’s modest lifestyle. 

When they arrived at the funeral home, they silently paid tribute before the reverend’s picture, in which he was captured smiling brightly. After paying their respects, they offered their condolences to the reverend’s family. 

Most of the mourners were Christians. Sunim exchanged greetings with several pastors before leaving the funeral home. Father Kim Hongjin, Supreme Leader Park Nam-soo, and Reverend Park Jong-wha each expressed sadness over the loss. 

“A man’s life is but a fleeting moment. We’ve worked together for more than 20 years and he left us without a word.”

Sunim also reminisced about the reverend:

If he had not passed away, he would have led the meeting of the ARLNRP scheduled for tomorrow, and everyone felt saddened by the thought of not being able to see him again. 

Sunim bid farewell to the religious leaders and returned to Seoul Jungto Center. 

At 5 pm, Sunim headed to Nurrikkum Square to give a talk at the invitation of the Korea Producers and Directors Association (KPDA). They had initially requested Sunim to give a talk last year, but due to his busy schedule, a date was set for this year instead. 

Upon arriving at the venue at 6:20 pm, Sunim was welcomed by KPDA executives. 

At 6:30 pm, Kim Se-won, chairperson of the KPDA, and Kim Jong-il, a former chairperson of the KPDA, delivered opening remarks and introduced Sunim.

“Producers are very sensitive to societal suffering. Many of my junior colleagues suffer from anxiety disorders. In considering various solutions, one idea was to invite Ven. Pomnyun Sunim to give us a talk. I hope you find it beneficial.”  

Amid a resounding round of applause, Sunim took the microphone and began the conversation with a talk about his recent visits to India and Bhutan. 

The audience raised their hands and asked questions. Over the course of two hours, seven people shared their problems and sought Sunim’s advice. Among them, one person asked about finding freedom from suffering, expressing difficulty in forgiving a senior colleague who had framed him to take the blame for an incident. 

I feel angry about the success of someone who tormented me

“In the course of my career, I’ve had plenty of awful experiences. About 20 years ago, I had a particularly bad one. It was the early 2000s and several entertainers had committed suicide due to negative public comments. Despite not being an entertainer, I, too, was harassed by negative comments. At that time, a senior colleague accused me of putting the company’s reputation at risk. I suffered greatly because of that. This senior colleague rose to prominence during the administration before last. Remembering what he did to me, I visited him and demanded an apology. However, he responded, ‘I feel sorry for what you’ve gone through because of me, but I won’t apologize.’ I retorted, ‘You speak like a politician.’ Subsequently, he left the company and entered politics. He’s running for office again in this legislative election. I search for news about him and think, ‘If he is elected again, I will suffer because I’ll have to see him in the news for four more years.’ I can’t forgive him. What should I do?”

“When I visited him, I spoke to him politely, using honorifics. However, he used casual language. If I had sworn at him at that time, I might feel less angry now.” 

“To heal myself, I went to a secluded place and cursed at him, shouting, ‘Bastard, son of a bitch.’ While I felt better temporarily, it wasn’t a lasting solution. I should have cursed at him to his face …”

“I did receive psychiatric treatment for a long time. I owe much of who I am today to that. Before seeking treatment, I couldn’t even bring myself to talk about it. But now, as I watch myself discussing it, I feel like I’ve been cured to some extent.”

“Now I can talk about it as if it happened to someone else. I’ve gradually been forgetting about him, but now that the bastard is running in the election again, my mind is troubled once more. Honestly, a feeling of ‘I hope that bastard loses in the election’ arises within me, and I can’t help it. I’m worried that I might get worse if he wins the election.”

“I’m worried that he might win the election.”

“I feel like I’ll be happy if he loses.” 

“It might sound like an excuse, but I can’t help but wonder why only someone like him is involved in politics.”

“Yes, I feel liberated a little bit.”

“Thank you.”

The questions continued;

  • My son stays in his room looking at his smartphone, and doesn’t come out. What should I do?
  • When I express my anger, others suffer and when I try to hold it in, I find it difficult to speak my mind. 
  • I’m having a hard time pursuing my dream of making music, which has been my passion since childhood, while also holding a job as a producer. 
  • I asked those who suffer from depression about the cause of their condition and they said they don’t know. What causes depression?
  • Somehow, I became a producer. What should my mission be?
  • Living with the despair of the impending climate crisis is challenging. I find it difficult to speak to members of younger generations about hope. What should I do?

The conversation ended past 8:30 in the evening. Sunim took a photo with the participants before leaving the venue, then returned to Seoul Jungto Center around 10 pm. 

Tomorrow, in the morning, Sunim will attend a meeting of the ARLNRP, followed by a live-streamed Wednesday Dharma meeting. In the afternoon, Sunim will participate in a peace research seminar and hold a meeting with members of the Planning Committee of the Peace Foundation. Finally, in the evening, there will be another live-streamed Wednesday Dharma meeting for evening participants.