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Presidential office highlights respect for BuddhismBy Kim Hae-yeon
Published : April 8, 2022 - 13:43
“President Moon appeared to be at a loss after receiving a report on the media reports that said that it was inappropriate to have sat on the cornerstones of what is thought to be the site of Beopheungsa,” Park Soo-hyun, senior presidential secretary for public communication, posted on Facebook.
Park wrote that in 2017 Moon ordered a reevaluation of the Buddha statue on Cheong Wa Dae grounds. Upon further research and review, the statue, then designated a heritage item by the city of Seoul, was elevated to a state treasure.
“President Moon’s reverence for the Buddha and respect for Buddhism are unchanging,” Park added.
Park’s social media post is seen as a response to a Buddhist newspaper article that said that sitting on the cornerstone was inappropriate behavior by the president.
“Why can’t the president understand that such light treatment of traditional culture will have a negative impact on the general public?” wrote the Ven. Tantan, director of the Central Buddhist Museum.
The incident was also criticized by the Ven. Seonggong, cultural department head of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, who said, “Even if the president and the first lady did not know (the importance of the cornerstones), it is incomprehensible that the Cultural Heritage Administration chief did not intervene at the site.”
“We sympathize with the criticism that the event was not prepared more sensitively in advance.” the CHA said, adding that all efforts will be made in the future to “fully preserve the precious value of Beopheungsa.”
The statement, rather than quieting criticisms over the incident, caused further controversy as it fell short of a full apology, and was seen as an excuse for Moon and Kim’s behavior.
By Kim Hae-yeon (email@example.com)
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