Buddhist leaders of Koreas to meet in N. Korea for joint events

September 30, 2015

SEOUL (Yonhap) — Buddhist leaders of the two Koreas will meet in the North Korean border town of Kaesong this week to discuss planned joint events, the South Korean organizer said Wednesday.

The representatives from South Korea’s Cheontae Order will “meet with officials from the North’s Buddhist federation on Saturday to set details about a couple of joint religious events,” the sect said in a release.

The planned functions include one to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the reconstruction of Ryongtong Temple in Kaesong and a memorial service to mark the death of Cheontae’s founder and a Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) monk, Uicheon, the South’s second-largest Buddhist sect added.

The two entities have held a joint memorial service at the temple almost on a yearly basis since 2004 when the two-year project to restore the temple was completed with the help of the Cheontae.

Believed to have been the first Cheontae temple in Korea, Ryongtong Temple was destroyed by fire in the 16th century and damaged further by the 1950-53 Korean War.

“We are mulling to hold the event for the restoration in Kaesong while inviting North Korean religious people to the South for the anniversary of Uicheon’s death,” Cheontae official Shin Myun-kwan said.

The planned religious exchanges came at a time when the inter-Korean relations are standing at a crossroad.

Last month, South and North Korea reached a landmark deal to ease tension, but the bellicose regime has made good on threats urging the South to stop what it calls “hostile moves” such as Seoul’s plan to make a special military unit to be tasked with attacking the North’s strategic facilities.