Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Korea: Tens of Thousands of Buddhists in Seoul

Although Korea has many religions, there have not been serious religious conflicts. Different religions have peacefully coexisted. Until now… Peaceful coexistence now seems on the verge of breaking. Tens of thousands of Buddhists protested against religious discrimination from the current government. President Lee Myung Bak is famous for being a devout Christian and has had public activities as a presbyter. Since there were several episodes in which he described his strong religious belief in public and new high officials have expressed their passion for their religion, there have been concerns that preference for Christianity might lead to imbalanced religious power and lead to benefits for a specific religion.

Buddhist monks and believers have been angered by a scandal in which the Reverend Jigwan, the Buddhist order of Jogye's respected head monk, was taken out of his car outside Jogye-sa temple and was searched by the police. The Buddhists ask for a public apology from the President and legal regulations to avoid favoritism toward specific religion. They speak out in the street. Many netizens are concerned that a new kind of conflict will arise in Korea.

[…]불교계는 정부의 종교 편향에 항의하기 위해 스님, 신도 등이 오늘 서울시청 앞 광장에서 `헌법파괴 종교차별 이명박 정부규탄 범불교도대회'를 연다고 합니다. 현재 이명박 대통령과 정부의 일부 고위 관료들은 기독교인입니다. 그동안 불교계에 이에 대해 수차례 우려를 표명하기도 하였고 조계종 총무 스님을 검문하는 과정에서 강력한 항의를 했습니다. 불교의 현실 정치에 시위하는 일은 매우 드문일입니다.[…]

[…]The Buddhist Sect will have a protest, ‘Buddhist rally to denounce the Lee Government that disregards the Constitution and discriminates religions.’ At present, the President and some high government officials are the Christians. Several times, some Buddhists expressed concerns about this and there were strong protests about inspecting the revered high monk of the Jogyejong (a Buddhism sector). It is very rare that the Buddhists protest about the politics.[…]

Netizens worry that it could be the harbinger of more conflicts and protests against the government.

[…]우리 사회가 종교문제로 시끄럽습니다. 8월 27일(수) 오후 2시 서울시청 앞 광장에서 대규모 범불교도대회가 열립니다. 도심 한 복판에서 수천 명의 스님들과 십 수만의 불자들이 정부에 항의하는 대회를 치르는 것은 불교사에 없었던 일이라 세인의 주목을 받고 있습니다.새 정부 들어서서 기독교 공화국으로 가는 게 아니냐는 불안감을 주는 공직자들의 종교 차별적 사건들이 연이어 터졌고, 이러한 일들은 장로 대통령 임기 내내 이어질 것이라는 우려가 있기 때문일 겁니다.조계종 총무원장께서 불쾌하게 검문을 당한 뒤 스님들 분위기도 격해진 듯합니다. 만시지탄이긴 하지만, 내부 싸움에만 몰두하느라 남의 일처럼 무심했던 것을 생각하면 불교계가 이 기회를 어떻게 활용하느냐에 따라 전화위복이 될 수도 있다는 생각입니다.

[…]Our society is noisy due to the religious issue. There will be a big meeting at the square in front of Seoul City Hall at 2 pm on the 27th of August. It will get a lot of attention because it is the first time in Buddhist history that several thousand monks and several hundred thousand Buddhists gather together in the middle of the city. There have been a series of events in which government officials made religious biased-comments and there have been worries that the new government would pursue a Christian Republic. After the head of Jogyejong was inspected with displeasure, it seems that Buddhist monks are not happy about it. It might be late. Buddhism has also disregarded other issues because of internal conflicts. It could be a good chance for Buddhism to think about it and to use this opportunity for its own sake.

While continual religious comments from government officials upset people, some recent changes in public service generate more conflicts.

[…] 2008.6.20 국토해양부의 대중교통정보이용시스템 ‘알고가’에 수만 평에 달하는 봉은사의 경우 흔적만 존재할 뿐 어떤 곳인지는 알 수 없고, ‘조계사’란 명칭은 어디에서도 확인할 수 없었는데, 반면 봉은사 주위에서만 삼성제일교회 등 7~8개의 교회 정보는 상세했다고 소개함.

2008.7.11 국토해양부 ‘경관법’, ‘경관계획수립지침’의 대상에 향교와 지방문화재 등은 포함되었으나 전통사찰은 의도적으로 대상에서 제외됨

2008. 8.7교육과학기술부, 교육지리정보서비스 학교현황 서비스에 조계사는 물론 봉은사 등 전통 사찰과 대형 사찰들의 정보가 누락된 반면 교회는 명칭과 함께 교회 한 눈에 알아 볼 수 있는 아이콘이 상세히 표시돼 있음.[…]

조계사와 봉은사가 표기를 놓칠 수도 있다.문제는 그에 비해서 교회의 표기를 너무나 자상하게? 했다는 점이다.바로 형평성을 잃은 문제다.문제는 관광자원인데도, 대통령은 경제를 살리겠다고 있는데…

바로 전통성을 버린 문제다.문제는 예전에 표기되었던 것까지 치밀하게 지웠다는 점이다. 바로 고의성이 담긴 문제다.문제는 국가 공권력을 국가 행정력을 사심으로 행사했다는 점이다. 바로 공공성을 밟은 문제다.
이건 실수가 아니라 계획적인 음모다.우리가 두렵고 무서워하는 것은 그들은 그것을 사명이라 여기기 때문이다.그들은 우리가 인내하는 것을 못난 것으로 무시한다.[…]

문제는,
이러한 국가 공권력을 행사하는 국무에 일부 종교인들로 편중되고
이러한 국가 행정력을 움직이는 국정이 일부 종교쪽으로 편향하고
이러한 국가 공공성을 유지하는 국부가 일부 종교인들이 편식하는 것이다.[…]

[…] June. 20. 2008. There is a public transportation information system, ‘Algoga’ at the Ministry of Land Transportation and Maritime Affairs. According to the information, it is hard to know what Bongeunsa Temple, which is bigger than 60,000 sq.m, is. It is impossible to find Jogyesa Temple. On the other hand, around Bongeunsa Temple, 7-8 Christian churches including Samsung Jeil Church are introduced in detail.

July 11. 2008. According to the ‘Landscape Regulation’ from the Ministry of Land Transportation and Maritime Affairs, old schools and local cultural properties are included, but traditional temples are intentionally excluded.

August 7. 2008. According to the Geography Information Service at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, information about Jogyesa Temple and Bongeunsa Temple is omitted. However, Christian churches are introduced with their names and have geographical icons.[…]

It is possible to think that they forgot to make signs of Jogyesa and Bongeunsa temples. However, the problem is that, compared to the mistake, all churches are so well introduced. It means that there is imbalance. Aren’t they tourism resources? I thought that the President wants to revive the economy… Another problem is to abandon orthodoxy. They even deleted parts of the Buddhist temples that had been inscribed before. The problem is the intention. The national authority and administration are used for self-interest. The problem is that they pressed down the generality. These are not mistakes, but planned plots. What we are afraid and scared is that they think of their deeds as missions. They disregard us because we put up with it. […]

The problem is,

State affairs to handle national authority are controlled by these religious people.
National administration is inclined toward this specific religion.
National wealth is held by these religious people.[…]

A rare case of a series of Buddhists’ protests draws strong attention from people.

그동안 정부의 기형적인 종교적 성향에 대해서 다양한 성토의 장이 열렸습니다. 우선 시청 광장을 넘치고 플라자호텔까지 찾아온 불교 신자와 시민들은 현정부에 대한 다양한 의견들을 쏟아 냈습니다. 오늘 서울 광장에서 주로 다루어졌던 것은 이명박 정부의 정치적인 편향보다는 종교 자체에 대한 편향이 옳지 않다는 것에 대해서 얘기하는 자리였습니다. 본질이 너무나 뚜렷한 집회였던 거죠. 결국 불교계는 이명박 대통령의 실질적인 사과를 요구하는게 전부였습니다. 그 이상도 그 이하도 아니었습니다. 오늘 집회에서 또 특이한 점은 불교 신자 뿐만 아니라 천주교 단체의 신부님까지 오셔서 일갈을 하셨습니다. 어떤 잘못을 따지기 보다는 이번 정부가 제대로된 종교관과 정치적 중립성을 통해 평화화 화합을 다지자는 것이었습니다. 이러한 기본적인 집회를 마치고, 거리행진을 시작하였습니다. 행진은 서울시청을 출발하여 광화문 방향으로 향한 후 종각으로 진행하여 조계사로 향하는 순이었습니다. 전반적으로 할머니나 아주머니 등 노인 분들이 많이 참석한 관계로 움직임이 힘들 수 밖에 없었습니다. 다른 그 어떤 집회의 참석자보다 육체적으로 약하지만 마음만으로는 풍요로운 분들의 작지만 커다란 움직임이었습니다. 우선 모임 자체가 순수하고 참가 자체가 평화적이기 때문에 많은 경찰이 나왔지만 행진은 평온하였습니다. 앞으로 이런 집회를 다시 볼 수 없을 것이라는 생각이 들었습니다.

부디 정부는 귀를 열고 이 분들이 원하는게 무엇인지 다시 한번 생각해봐야 할 것입니다. 그리고, 이번 집회가 무력 충돌 없이 잘 마무리 되기를 바랍니다. 끝까지 같이 하지 못해 아쉽네요.

공정한 대한민국을 원합니다.

An event related to the unbalanced favoritism of a specific religion of the government happened. Buddhists and citizens who gathered at the square in front of Seoul City Hall and Plaza Hotel expressed diverse opinions about the current government. Today we talked about how the religious favoritism of the Lee Government is not right rather than talking about the problems of political favoritism. The topic was clear. What they want is simply an apology from President Lee Myung Bak. It’s not more than that. An interesting thing was the Catholic priests as well as the Buddhists also attended the protest. It was a meeting to ask the government to strengthen peace and harmony through righteous religious perspective and political understanding. After the event, people started having a street march. It started from Seoul City Hall, to Kwanghwa-moon, to Jonggak, and to Jogyesa Temple. Generally, old people attended and, therefore, the march was slow. It was physically slow, but their hearts were conveyed to people enough. The meeting itself was pure and peaceful. Even though there were many policemen, the march was peaceful.

The government should open their ears and think one more time what those people want. I hope that all meetings for this issue finish well without any physical conflicts.

I hope for a righteous and fair Korea.

Bloggers continue to analyze the issue.

퇴근하고 돌아와서 뉴스들 보니 오늘 하루도 정말 많은 일이 일어났다. 산속의 노스님들까지 거리로 나오게 만든 2mb의 힘은 정말 가공하다. 과연 이명박은 사과를 하고, 어청수는 퇴진하고 종교편향은 없어지게 될것인가? 언론 플레이하고, 시간 끌기 하고, 어영부영 다른 뉴스들로 잠잠해지길 기다리지나 않을까 예상되는데…좌우지간 초딩부터 산속의 노스님들까지 물러나라 외치는 2mb가 얼마나 버틸련지 내기할 사람 모아볼까?
20만 불자들이 모여 이명박 정부를 규탄한 날 마타하리 같은 미모의 여간첩 사건이 발표되었다.국정원은 10년동안 간첩 안잡고 머했는지, 정권 바뀌자 마자 언제쯤 간첩 나타나나 기다리고 기다렸는데.아주 센세이션하게 성을 무기로 한 미모의 여간첩이 20만 불자들이 모여서 정권 규탄한날 잡혔다 발표했다. 언제나 역사속에서 그렇듯이 발표 시점도 죽인다. 간첩사건 내용 다룬 기사… 때가 어느때인데 간첩이야 분노하며 읽는데…왜 선데이 서울이나 일요신문에 나올만한 이야기 같은거지….ㅋ.내용 보고 여간첩에 넘어간 군인들 왜케 많은거야. 국방부 장관 퇴진해야 되는거 아냐!! ㅋ 간첩활동 한 내용 보니 21세기 정보화 시대에 구글검색하고 gps이용하고 인터넷 검색하면 다 나올만한 내용들이던데, 참으로 한심한 간첩같고, 그 간첩 보내서 뭘 어쩌려구 했는지 이해가 가질 않지만… […]백골단 부활에, 여간첩에, 20년전 쯤으로 돌아가고 있는거 같은데….이제 삼청교육대에 장발단속에 미니스커트 단속 이런것도 좀 해야되는거 아닌지 모르겠다.[…]

After coming back from my work today and checking the news, many things happened in a day again. Old Buddhist monks who stay in the mountains plunged out in the street. The capability of Lee Myung Bak (2mb) is amazing. Will Lee Myung Bak apologize, will Eo Chung Soo resign, and will the favoritism toward a specific religion go away? I guess that, in order to let people forget about the issue, he will use the same tactics, such as working with media, dragging time, and bringing up other issues. Anyway how long can Lee Myung Bak withstand complaints from the primary school students to the old monks?
On the date when 200,000 Buddhists started the protest, the government announced a beautiful spy scandal like Mata Hari. What did the National Intelligence Service do for 10 years? I knew someday soon North Korean spies would be arrested once the government changed. And a beautiful spy who has sex as her weapon was sensationally caught on the same date when those Buddhists gathered. As history has proved so far, the moment of the public announcement is perfect this time again. The story is so similar with those you can see in Sunday Seoul or Sunday Newspaper. I read what she has done. In the technological period of the 21st century, what she did was to find information that we ordinary people can even simply find through searching on google, and using gps and the internet. Wow… she is such a stupid spy. I really don’t understand what North Korea tried to do with her.[…] Restoration of Baek-gol-dan and female North Korean spy… It seems that we return to 20 years back. Maybe, Samchung Revival Camp and control of hair and skirt lengths will start again.[…]

A blogger talks about this issue and the example of the general attitude toward Japan’s religion.

항상 누구나 말하지만 공인들은 종교에 대한 부분을 중립적 입장에서 바라보고 노력해야한다. 예전 일본총리 고이즈미나 아베 등등 야스쿠니 신사참배에 대한 한국의 모든사람들은 비판했다. 전범 무덤이 있는 신사에 왜 참배를 하냐고 강하게 항의했다. 일본에서 답변은 총리가 믿는 종교인데 강제적으로 못하게 할수없다는 입장이었다. 자 과연 현재 한국에서 일어나는 일들을 보자 정치인들이나 각 요직에 있으신 분들이 자신들의 종교와 타종교를 분리하고 탄압한다는 이야기는 뉴스를 보아도 알수있다.
과연 이분들이 일본의 총리들을 욕할수 있을까?

정치와 종교는 중립적이어야 하는 것인데 아직도 자신들의 잘못을 모르고 있다. 일본 총리와 다른점이 무엇인가? 둘다 똑같다. 참고로 일본은 죽으면 누구나 신이된다고 믿는다. 어느정도 유명하신분들이 모셔있는 신사를 참배하고 믿는다. 일본에서는 종교라고 한다. 그래서 일본은 다신교라고 할수있다.

종교의 중요한 점은 자신의 마음과 행동을 다시한번 고칠수있고 좀더 자신의 안식을 찾기 위한것이다. 다른종교를 배척하고, 탄압하며, 선과악을 구분짓는 행동은 종교인으로써 문제있는 행동이다.
다시한번 이점 깊이 생각하고 문제가 있는 사람들은 반성해야한다.

As everyone knows, men in public life should make efforts to have an objective view about religion. When the Japanese Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi and Abe made regular pilgrimages to Yasukuni, Koreans all criticized them. It was criticized why they worshipped at the shrine which has war criminals’ graves. The answer from Japan was because it was the religion that the Prime Ministers believed and therefore they couldn’t force them not to. Let’s see what’s going on to Korea now. We see news that politicians and some key positioned people divide the religion they believe in from others and suppress the others. Then, can they blame Japanese ministers?

Even though politics and religion should be separate, they still don’t get it. How are they different from the Japanese ministers? They’re the same. For reference, Japanese believe that if all people die, they can be Gods. They visit shrines that keep famous people and believe them. Therefore, Japan is regarded as polytheistic.

An important part of religion is that people correct their minds and behavior and can look for comforts. If they exclude other religions, suppress them, and try to divide them into good and evil, their behavior has problems. They should think about this part and reflect on their conduct.

5 comments

  • wei

    nobody can inflence other’s religion

  • Wei

    imitation is the best form of flattery…but could you use an initial so people won’t be confused?

  • R. Elgin

    One big reason why churches are listed on these transportation websites are because many churches also aggressively lobby and even pay money to have their church listed since this is a form of advertising for them and they are notorious in their attempts to recruit everywhere they can.

    A few years ago the Isu station (Orange line) on the subway changed part of its name to Chongsin University, which is a Christian University that is not very close to that station, yet the university paid to have their name put on the subway stop.

    Buddhist temples are simply not as active in promoting their temples.

  • Quixote84

    Many churches fanatically support LMB just because he’s Christian. It’s true that the government should work to be impartial in matters of religion, but the many churches in Korea (especially the large ones with thousands of church-goers) should try harmonizing with other religions.

  • That is very true “Quitxote”. I have noticed that it is always the protestant-style churches that have trouble getting along with other religions in South Korea since they are of the mind that these other people are wrong and are “going to hell” for it. It turns out that more than a little arson committed in temples are done by some of the more intolerant protestants in Korea too.

    Despite these problems, I still remember seeing a Catholic nun and a female Buddhist monk walking arm in arm, in the subway one day. That sort of harmony is rare in other parts of the world too.

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site