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Korean Buddhist Head to Visit North Korea

By Han Sang-hee, The Korea Times, Jan 27, 2010

Seoul, South Korea -- The most venerable Ja Seung, head of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, will visit North Korea, according to the biggest Buddhism sect Thursday.

<< Ven. Ja Seung, head of the Jogye Order, will make a four-day visit to North Korea starting Saturday. / Korea Times File

He will leave Saturday for a four-day visit along with other high ranking monks.

"We believe the visit will not only be focused on religious exchanges, but also on the stagnated relations between South and North Korea,'' Ven. Won Dam, the spokesman of the sect said.

The Buddhist leaders were invited by the Korean Reconciliation Council in North Korea.

They will meet the leaders of the Joseon Buddhism Federation and discuss exchanges between South and North Korean Buddhism and also visit Yonghwa Temple, Beobunam; Bohyeon Temple; and Mt. Myohang.

Ven. Ja Seung will further discuss with his counterparts about revitalizing Shingye Temple on Mt. Geumgang, the restoration of Yonghwa Temple in Pyongyang and about cooperation in digging for and restoring Buddhist cultural assets. They are also looking into building a humanitarian welfare center in Pyongyang, signing a cooperation agreement between major temples in both Koreas and also inviting the North to a Buddhist cultural festival next year, to celebrate the 1,000th anniversary of the ``Palman Daejanggyeong'' or ``Tripitaka Koreana,'' one of the world's largest and most comprehensive collections of Buddhist scriptures.

Ven. Ja Seung stressed the need of communication during his New Year press conference at Jogye Temple early this month. Citing the need for exchanges, he said he was planning to contact Buddhist leaders and temples in North Korea and further cooperate in promoting the Buddhist faith.

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