It is a great honor for me to receive the academy Manhae Great Prize.  I must, however, admit some doubt that I am worthy of this honor when I consider the outstanding scholarly accomplishments of the earlier recipients of this prize, including Professor Kang Man’gil who was my teacher during my undergraduate years at Korea University, not to mention the attainments of Professor Kim Hak Sung, who is also receiving the academy prize this year.

Manhae Pak Yongun is well known in Korea for his struggles to reform Buddhism, to realize social justice, and to attain the independence of Korea from Japanese colonial rule. But he should also be considered as one who represents the struggles of the oppressed peoples throughout the world to attain freedom and independence in the twentieth century.  If Manhae were alive today, he would surely be in the forefront of the effort to attain the democratic, autonomous, and peaceful reunification of Korea.

I do not believe that receiving the Manhae Grand Prize is a reflection of some particularly outstanding individual attainment on my part.  Rather it is recognition of all those who have helped my in my efforts over the years.  I have a lifelong debt to my teachers of the Department of History at Korea University.  The faculty there in the early 1970s were world class in both their scholarly achievements and their personal qualities and they were unstinting in their encouragement of me despite my many shortcomings.   My classmates also gave me a great deal of help as I was struggling with my studies; I don't believe I could have learned what I did and gotten my degree without their generous assistance.  After I returned to the U.S. for my graduate studies, I was blessed with guidance from such outstanding teachers as Hugh Kang and Yong-ho Choe of the University of Hawaii and James Palais of the University of Washington.  I was also fortunate enough to get a position at UCLA, where professors Robert Buswell and Peter Lee had already begun to build a substantial Korean Studies program which made it relatively easy for me to do my work.   I suppose that my research accomplishments are of some merit, but what I take the greatest satisfaction from is the new generation of Korean Studies scholars who have studied with me at UCLA.   They have show much attachment to the field of Korean Studies and to Korea itself and have gone on to take positions at various top-notch universities in the U.S., as well as at universities and research organizations in Korea where they are actively researching and teaching about Korea.  

I have no words to express my gratitude to the Manhae Foundation for awarding me the Grand Prize and can only say that I will do my best to uphold Manhae Han Yongun’s spirit of cherishing and respecting human beings.