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Seoul to allow joint inter-Korean Buddhist event

Yonhap News, June 20, 2014

SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea plans to approve South and North Korean Buddhist groups' plan to hold a joint religious event on the North Korean mountain of Kumgang later this month, the unification ministry said Friday.

South Korea's mainstay Jogye Order and North Korea's Buddhist association are seeking to hold the joint event marking the 70th anniversary of Han Yong-un's death on June 29 in a Buddhist temple on the North Korean mountain.

Han is a well-known 20th century Korean Buddhist reformer and poet who fought for the independence of what are now the two divided Koreas against Japan's imperialist ambition to colonize the peninsula.

"The Unification Ministry has consistently maintained its position that it will allow nonpolitical, purely social and cultural exchanges between South and North Korea," ministry spokesman Kim Eyi-do said in a briefing,

"(The ministry) is reviewing the plan to hold the joint event under the same position."

   The Buddhist groups from the two countries are now reportedly taking necessary steps to host the event, including the issuance of the North Korean group's official invitation to the South side.

The planned event, if successfully held, would mark a rare contact between any inter-Korean entities, especially since February when the North began to shun meetings with the South amid a series of joint Seoul-Washington military exercises.

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