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Korean Christians Stir Controversy By Holding Service At Sacred Buddhist Site

HuffPost Korea, Jul 10, 2014

Seoul, South Korea -- The local Buddhist newspaper Beopbo Shinmun reported this week that “Korean Christians were observed singing hymns and missionary prayers, allegedly doing Ddangbarpgi in a Buddhist temple and UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Mahabodhi Temple." Ddangbarpgi refers to the act of Christians worshiping at sacred locations of other religions, primarily Buddhism.

The incident came to light through a video sent to Beopbo Shinmun by a Buddhist nun, Venerable Beopsu, who has been at the Mahabodhi Temple for several months practicing silence, the newspaper reports. The temple is in Bodh Gaya, an area in the northeast of India that is reputed to be where Buddha obtained enlightenment.

In the video, a Korean man plays the guitar while two others appear to be singing and praying. Beopsu broke her silent meditation to ask them to stop immediately and leave the temple, wondering how they could "do such a disrespectful thing in a shrine where Buddha found enlightenment," the paper reports. However, they reportedly told her that the Christian God is the only savior and that they were “preaching the word of God because [they] pity those who have not been saved.”

When Beopsu told the Christians that she would "inform Korea what they did," they left in a hurry, according to the paper. Beopbo Shinmun reports that "this state of affairs is significant because, when it becomes public that Korean Christians performed such an outrageous missionary act in the Mahabodhi Temple, serious religious conflicts and diplomatic problems may come into play.”

Even among Korean Christians, Ddangbarpgi is seen as controversial and is often criticized. In 2010, a video was circulated in which young people held Christian services in Bongeunsa, one of the biggest Buddhist temples in Seoul. Following the video's controversial reception, the group officially apologized to Bongeunsa. Also in 2010, the Christian Council of Daegu was seen in a video holding Christian services at the Donghwasa temple, a Buddhist temple in the city of Daegu. In December of that year, the Korean Church Press Association stated via the daily newspaper Kukmin Ilbo that "Ddangbarpgi is not considered to reflect legitimate Christian doctrine or practice.”

This post was translated from Korean and was originally published on HuffPost Korea.


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