A Buddhist monk speaks with two Templestay participants near a stone pagoda at Dogapsa, a temple in Yeongam, South Jeolla Province, in this 2018 photo from the Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism. (Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism)
The Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism announced Monday that it has resumed some of its Templestay programs.
The Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism, an affiliate of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, currently operates Templestay programs at 139 temples around the country. All its programs were suspended Feb. 24 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
In line with the government’s social distancing guidelines, only Templestay programs for individual participants have reopened. Group programs remain suspended.
“Our decision came after the government decided to ease its social distancing guidelines,” Ven. Wonkyung, the religious group’s head monk, said in a statement.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun announced on Sunday that the government would soften its social distancing guidelines, conditionally allowing churches, bars, gyms and cram schools to resume business.
“Due to the prolonged virus pandemic, many people are depressed and tired. To assist the public in overcoming the ‘corona blues,’ we have decided to resume our Templestay program,” Ven. Wonkyung added.
The corps ordered all temples to follow the government’s COVID-19 regulations strictly. They must install hand sanitizer, hand out masks on-site and sanitize the temples regularly.
The program operator also said the temples are required to check their participants daily for any symptoms of the disease.
Established in 2004, the Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism promotes Korean Buddhism and related cultural content.
Meanwhile, the corps is providing free Templestays at 16 of its temples to medical staff who are on the front lines of the battle against the new coronavirus. It will accept up to 2,000 people in the free program, which runs until Oct. 31.
By Song Seung-hyun (email@example.com