Dok Hyon Sunim was born on 25 December 1963. He grew up in a rural area of Korean south in Jeollanam-do province.
Sunim met Buddhism in the 1980s while studying at the university. At that time South Korea was under a strong military government control. Many students, scholars and generally all educated people were concerned about their country and tried to fight the government to achieve justice, democracy and prosperity.
After graduating in the university, Sunim entered military service. For two years he was fulfilling his duties as a soldier and than supported himself as a worker at various construction sites. While working, he had many doubts about life, so started to practice Buddhism and finally decided to become a monk.
In 1989 entered Songgwangsa temple at Jogye mountain.
In 1990 obtained novice monk precepts and became disciple of venerable master Bop Jong Sunim (법정 스님), who was at that time practicing at Puril hermitage above Songgwangsa. While attending his teacher, he entered Songgwangsa Kangwon seminary.
Between the years 1992 to 2008 Sunim practiced Zen meditation in various Zen meditation halls, hermitages and other secluded places.
Since March 2009 Sunim acts as an abbot of Kilsangsa temple in Seoul.
From March 2010 Sunim also serves as a successor of venerable Bop Jong Sunim.