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North Korea invites South Korean Buddhist leader to Pyongyang

Yonhap News, Nov 22, 2006

SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korea has invited the head of South Korea's top Buddhist sect, the Jogye Order, to visit Pyongyang before the end of the year, officials at the Buddhist order said Wednesday.

North Korea made the invitation to Ven. Jigwan during a ceremony commemorating a renovation of a temple at North Korea's Mount Geumgang on Sunday, but he replied it would be difficult this year due to his tight schedule, the officials said.

A Jogye Order official said the visit had been discussed since the turn of this year and the two sides agreed that it would take place around Aug. 15, but the plan was delayed due to heavy flooding in North Korea.

Jigwan said there was no reason for him not to visit Pyongyang if his trip could help the nation.

About 700 officials and Buddhists from South and North Korea attended the ceremony to celebrate the restoration of part of Shingye Temple that was burnt down during the 1950-53 Korean War.

In January 2003, the Jogye Order agreed with the (North) Korean Buddhist Federation on restoring the temple on the scenic mountain, which is on the North's east coast. About 80 percent of the temple has been restored.

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