Mankong Wolmyon (1871-1946)
Son Master Mankong was one of the most eminent disciples of son Master kyeongheo.
Son Master Mankong was born in 1871 in Taein in Jeollabuk-do Province.
His father’s name was Song Sintong, his mother’s family name was Kim, and he was named Song Doam.
In 1883, when he was 13 years old, son Master Mankong happened to visit Kumgangsa in Kimje.
The Buddha statue there deeply impressed the young man and occasioned a turning point in his life.
That year he ordained at Donghaksa in Kongju and began his novitiate training within the lineage of Jinam Sunim.
Soon thereafter, however, he met son Master Kyeongheo and in the following year followed his new master to Cheonjangsa in Seosan.
There he received his junior monk precepts and the Buddhist name, Wolmyon, with Taeheo Sunim as his teacher and son Master Kyeongheo as his Master Preceptor.
In time, son Master Mankong attained enlightenment and received Dharma transmission from son Master kyeongheo.
Afterward, he went to Doksungsan and built the Kumsondae pavilion where he spent the next few years engaged in meditative practice.
During this period he also organized and led Buddhist monks and laypeople from all over the country in renovating Sudeoksa, Jeonghyesa, and Kyonseongam.
During the Japanese occupation period, Son Master Mankong assumed leadership of the Friends of Son Economic Aid Movement which sought to establish Son study centers and consolidate an economic foundation for son monks.
The Office of the Japanese Governor-General of Choson had organized a conference of the leaders of the thirty-one central monasteries of Korea.
Japanese officials intended to parcel out these properties to Korean collaborators and thereby gain complete political and economic control of Korean Buddhist institutions.
Son Master Mankong attended the proceedings and, directly addressing Governor-General Minami himself, sharply rebuked his administration’s oppressive policies with regard to Korean Buddhism.
This incident directly inspired reforms in those policies.
Son Master Mankong’s death-defying behavior also cemented his reputation as a teacher and activist who had transcended the concerns of birth and death.
In his final years, Son Master Mankong constructed a thatched hut which he named Jeonwolsa near the peak of Deoksungsan.
He lived there until he passed away on October 20, 1946. He was 75 years old, having lived as a monk for 62 years.
Afterward his disciples built the Mankong Pagoda on the same mountain, below the monastery, Jeonghyesa.
Within the pagoda they enshrined portraits of the son Masters Kyeongho, Hyewol, and Mankong.Son Master Mankong’s lineage, also referred to as the Deoksungsan lineage, produced many illustrious spiritual inheritors.
Male disciples include the Bowol, Yongum, Kobong, Sokyong, Hyeam, Jeonkang, Kumo, Chunsong, Byokcho, and Wondam. Female disciples include Bophui, Manseong, and Ilyob.