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Jiyul continues hunger strike

by By Lee Sun-young, The Korea Herald, Jan 31, 2005

Seoul, South Korea -- Despite appeals from the public and supporters, Jiyul has no intention to stop a hunger strike, and instead has decided to stay under the protection of a Buddhist group in Seoul, her supporters said yesterday.

<< Nun Jiyul, on the 96th day of a hunger strike, lies in a room at Jungto Society headquarters, a training center for Buddhists, in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul, yesterday. [The Korea Herald]

Concerns have been mounting over the fate of the 46-year-old Buddhist nun as she had been out of contact for more than a week after leaving the venue of her fast on Jan. 21.

"We could not move her mind from the fast but we did persuade her to move into a safer place. Jiyul is now with us at Jungto Society headquarters, since she stubbornly refused to go to hospital," said Monk Beopryun, leader of Jungto Society, a Buddhist civic group, at a press conference held at its headquarters in Seocho, southern Seoul, yesterday.

Jiyul, a Buddhist nun from a Naewon Temple in Mount Cheonseong, has been demanding the government suspend tunneling work that she claims will endanger more than 30 rare animals.

However, authorities have refused to review the project, saying it is being implemented through proper procedures including the appraisal of environmental influence.

If constructed, the tunnel will be used for linking the nation's two major cities of Seoul and Busan within two hours by high-speed train.

Jiyul, 47, is a Buddhist nun from a temple in Mount Cheoseong, where the controversial 13-kilometer tunnel is now being constructed.

"A person's life or death is at stake here, we should all join our effort to think of a solution, rather than holding onto the who-is-wrong question," said Monk Beopryun.

"She is a person of superb mental strength, that is how she lasted this far," he said, adding her condition is as critical as one can imagine. Yesterday was Jiyul's 96th day of fasting.

The nun did not show up at the press conference yesterday, staying in a small prayer room.

A group of religious leaders and environmentalists met with reporters instead and called on the government to act on the matter and save Jiyul, until it is too late.

"All she asks is to conduct a proper environmental influence appraisal. Just suspend the use of explosives for three months for the joint appraisal. Does the administration have to stake a person's life over this?" the religious leaders attending the press conference said in a joint statement.

A group of religious leaders including the largest Buddhist Order Jokye, where Jiyul belongs to, has been holding a marathon prayer to save Jiyul. Hundreds of citizens have been holding candlelit vigils in eight cities across the country.

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