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Korean monks hold protest

The Dong-a Ilbo, JULY 5, 2008

Seoul, South Korea -- Following Roman Catholic and Christian priests, Buddhist priests finally held their own candlelight vigil to express opposition against U.S. beef imports.

The Buddhist Commission consisting of progressive Buddhist organizations such as the Buddhist Solidarity for Reform, Lotus World, and Solidarity of Buddhism and Environment Protection held “The Buddhist Ceremony to Protect the Sovereignty of the People and Encourage the Government to Repent” at Seoul Plaza, in front of Seoul City Hall, at 6 p.m. Friday.

Buddhist priests from temples across the nation, Buddhists, and citizens participated in the ceremony.

In his opening address, Rev. Sugyeong, co-host of the ceremony, said, “One million candles lit in 2008 prove that the people have sovereignty. Let’s brighten the world with bigger lights.”

The sermon was delivered by Rev. Cheonghwa of the Jogye Order. Rev. Hamhyeon, head of Bongam Temple, and Rev. Gangju of Haein Temple also addressed the crowd. Priest Jeon Jong-hoon of the Catholic Priests’ Association for Justice delivered his own speech.

After announcing a resolution saying, “We want a government that protects the lives and sovereignty of the people and communicates with the people,” the monks bowed 108 times along with Buddhists and citizens and marched through the streets in Namdaemun, Euljiro and Seoul Plaza.

At the same time, 50 members of a Buddhist Internet club undertook a “three steps, one bow” pilgrimage from Jogye Temple to Sejongno, Friday.

Meanwhile, the People’s Association for Measures Against Mad Cow Disease is scheduled to hold a candlelight vigil in major cities including Seoul, Saturday.

Police estimate that around 35,000 Koreans will participate in the protest in Seoul Plaza. It has created walls with military buses in central Seoul and mobilized 16,000 riot police to deal with the protest.

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