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Oxford student killed himself hours after being told PhD thesis wasn't good enough

By Daily Mail Reporter
Updated: 17:45 GMT, 25 February 2009

An Oxford University student killed himself just hours after being told his PhD thesis needed to be improved, an inquest has heard.

A coroner was told how former Buddhist monk Juncnok Park hanged himself after what he saw was a colossal disappointment and an embarrassment.

The criticism was probably the first time the South Korean mature student had ever failed at anything in his life.

Oxford University student Juncnok Park, who attended Wolfson College, killed himself after being told his PhD thesis needed to be improved

The inquest heard how Mr Park, who had served ten years under holy orders in his native country, shunned television and other pastimes to devote himself to gaining a doctorate in Buddhism.

It was hours after his academic supervisor confirmed his fears - that examiners believed he was not yet ready to be awarded a doctorate from the university - that the 37-year-old student took his life.

Police were called to Wolfson College, Oxford, on Friday, July 18 last year after a cleaner found Mr Park's bedroom door blocked and noticed blood on the floor.

Police constable Henry Gillingham, of Thames Valley Police, who was joined by a paramedic, said: 'I immediately attempted to open it. I barged the door and a male's body fell on to a table pushed up against the door.'

PC Gillingham shouldered the door open, causing Mr Park's body to tumble on to his bed and then to the floor.

The paramedic confirmed that the scholar was dead.

Consultant pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt gave the cause of death as hanging, despite wounds inflicted on his wrists.

Mr Park, from Incheon, near Seoul, arrived at Oxford University in 2003 on a scholarship to read Oriental Studies, with a doctorate in Buddhism.

Lance Cousins, a fellow of Wolfson College and one of Mr Park's two supervisors, said the student had already completed his thesis and returned to Oxford from South Korea for an interview on it with two examiners.

He had been due to return to Korea the day after he died.

But Mr Park began to worry after receiving no feedback, and at lunch with Mr Cousins on July 17 - the day before his body was found - he asked what the outcome was.

'He was extremely well thought of,' said Mr Cousins, of Mr Park's academic standing.

'He was very committed to what he believed in. As a student he was very capable.' 

He added that he had not expected the student to be found wanting by the examiners.

Describing the scholar's attitude to the news, he told the inquest in Oxford: 'He was clearly not very happy and worried about it, but it was difficult for me without the final report.

'I was urging him to wait and see what he actually got.'

When asked by the coroner if he was concerned for his student, Mr Cousins said: 'No. I was a little worried about the longer term but it simply didn't occur to me that there might be a more immediate problem.' 

He added that Mr Park would have considered the news an embarrassment and something which could badly affect his prospects back home.

Sowon Park, a friend of the undergraduate and the last person to see him alive, described him as 'an exceptional student.'

She said: 'He had been a Buddhist priest for about ten years and had a very calm, detached manner about him.

'When I saw him he told me it (the interview) hadn't gone well and he told me he didn't know if he would get his degree or not.

'This must have been a real shock to him as he had never failed anything in his life.'

Oxfordshire Coroner Nicholas Gardiner said: 'It is very clear that Mr Park took the bad news, or what he perceived to be bad news, not very well.

'It would have been an embarrassment to him. He took his own life.'

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J'Tia Taylor
Contestant Profile
Born: September 1, 1981 (1981-09-01) (age 36)
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Occupation: Nuclear Engineer
Survivor Career
Version:United States
Finish: 15/18
Challenge Wins: 1
Votes Against: 7
Days Lasted: 11

J'Tia Taylor is a contestant from Survivor: Cagayan.

Despite infamously dumping her tribe's rice supply into the fire and failing in challenges, J'Tia managed to survive two Tribal Councils on the dysfunctional Luzon tribe before being voted out immediately before the tribe switch.


Retrieved from CBS.com

Name: J'Tia Taylor (31)
Tribe Designation:Luzon
Current Residence: Chicago, Ill.
Occupation: Nuclear Engineer
Personal Claim to Fame: Passing my dissertation defense, because I was the expert on the subject matter and held my own against my professors, and being the first black female to successfully defend and receive a PhD from the department.
Inspiration in Life: My mother who is 61 years old and still kicking, running marathons, traveling, and learning new things.
Hobbies: Watching movies, reading and playing strategic games.
Pet Peeves: Ignorant, close-minded people, being late/off schedule, and chunks in food/drinks (e.g. rocky road ice cream).
3 Words to Describe You: Intelligent, adaptable and competitive.
If You Could Have 3 Things on The Island What Would They Be and Why? My favorite "I Love Nerds" T-shirt, mint-flavored Mentos, and a really thick intricate novel that I could read repeatedly and find new meanings to.
SURVIVOR Contestant You Are Most Like:Richard Hatch. He played the game authentically and originally since he had no precedence, and was true to who he was.
Reason for Being on SURVIVOR: Winning a million dollars and beating everyone else, while on the adventure of a lifetime.
Why You Think You'll "Survive" SURVIVOR: I'm very analytical so I'm good at breaking down/solving a problem and I'm also really good at getting people motivated and helping them achieve a goal.
Why You Think You Will Be the Sole Survivor: I have an irrepressible drive and tenacity.
Do You Consider Yourself a Brain, a Beauty or a Brawn? I'm definitely easy on the eyes but I'm a true Brain at heart. I would say I'm 1/4 Beauty, 3/4 Brain. My answer, in which I give myself a narcissistic compliment and then use fractions, pretty much confirms this.
Who Do You Think Has the Best Chance in the Game of Survivor: Brains, Beauty or Brawn? Brains always win... "Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." -Ghandi[1]


J'Tia was put on the Luzon ("Brains") tribe at the start of the game because of her work as a nuclear engineer. Once they got to camp, she explained that she knew how the shelter should be built and began to tell everybody what to do and how to do it, annoying her tribemates. She didn't pull her weight around camp, preferring instead to bark out orders. After Luzon lost the first Immunity Challenge by a large margin, J'Tia aligned herself with Tasha Fox. Kass McQuillen told J'Tia individually that she felt that J'Tia did nothing around camp and that she was planning to vote her out. Garrett Adelstein, however, approached J'Tia and Tasha, saying that they would try to get out David Samson because he was too cunning and strategic. After J'Tia argued with David at Tribal Council, he was blindsided in a 4-2 vote.

Once again, J'Tia contributed to the tribe loss at the second Immunity Challenge when she failed to complete the puzzle, despite being the first person to begin working on it. Back at camp, Garrett suggested having an open forum about Tribal Council to discuss voting out J'Tia. Tasha objected, saying that she would rather talk to people individually; this led to a small argument. Garrett and Spencer made it clear that J'Tia would not escape elimination this time.

Tasha decided to stir things up, seeking a more powerful role in the tribe. Down at the beach, she tried to persuade Kass to vote with her and J'Tia and form a majority. Garrett and Spencer Bledsoe came over to them to see what they were conversing about. Alone in the shelter, J'Tia assumed that she would be leaving, so she dumped most of the bag of rice into the fire. When everyone else returned to camp, J'Tia denied dumping the rice even though she was the only one not by the water, but later admitted it at Tribal Council. Even though J'Tia was obviously a large detriment, the women of the tribe decided to vote for Garrett due to his domineering ways and poor strategic skills, sending him home.

Although J'Tia was now in an alliance, she still managed to annoy her tribemates by asking if she could eat some of their dwindling rice supply before going to the next challenge. Luzon finally managed to win their first challenge, a combined Reward/Immunity Challenge, earning the tribe a tarp.

However, Luzon soon returned to their old ways, losing the next Reward Challenge. At the fourth Immunity Challenge, J'Tia was slow to retrieve the balls thrown by Spencer and Tasha, costing them valuable time. Luzon was beaten again, despite rival tribe Aparri attempting to throw the Immunity Challenge. At camp, J'Tia pled her loyalty to Kass and Tasha, saying she would stick with them, while Spencer would not. Despite her lobbying, the tribe deemed her to be too big of a disadvantage and she was sent home by a unanimous 3-1 vote, finishing in 15th place.

Voting History

J'Tia's Voting History
Episode J'Tia's
Voted Against
1DavidDavid, Kass
2GarrettGarrett, Spencer
3Luzon Tribe Immune
4SpencerKass, Spencer,
Voted Off, Day 11


  • J'Tia got married to her fiancé Graeme Ross Hart on March 20, 2015.[2]
  • In January 16, 2016, Brice Johnston revealed on his Twitter J'Tia and Graeme are expecting their first child.[3]
    • Their daughter, Aashna Brynn, was born on February 10, 2016.[4]




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