Buddhists Join Interfaith Journey to Demilitarized Zone for Korean Peace

- through Henry Oudin

Published on

Taken from ucanews.com

A number of South Korean clergy, lay people and supporters of two Christian and Buddhist organizations gathered earlier this month for a trip to the border with North Korea. The aim was to commemorate the war, which ended in 1953 with an armistice agreement but without a formal declaration of peace, and to issue a "Declaration for Life and Peace".

The border visit took place on March 1 at Peace Bell Plaza in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, northwest of Seoul. The bell, inaugurated by the mayor of Gyeonggi-Do on January 1, 2000, is a popular site for tourists wishing to visit the demilitarized zone (DMZ). There, representatives of the four religious groups prayed for peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Peace Bell Square. From google.com

The statement released read in part: “Peace is a fundamental value that encompasses all religions, and peace is never something that can be achieved through physical force. We recognize differences, accept differences and walk together while looking in the same direction. (UCA News)

The event was organized by the DMZ Life and Peace Pilgrimage Committee, composed of Presbyterians, Catholics, Won Buddhists and representatives of other Buddhist traditions in Korea.

Father Timothy Lee Eun-hyeong of Uijeongbu Diocese offered greetings on behalf of the Catholic Church: "There is an old saying: 'A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,' and this is the step that we do. I think it will be a good step towards the advancement of peace and the creation of peace,” he said, adding: “We urge everyone to join us on the path to peace and salvation . » (UCA News)

To end the ceremony, the peace bell rang seven times. This was to serve as a symbol of hope for peace, life and solidarity between the two Koreas.

The pilgrimage provides an opportunity for people from diverse religious backgrounds to express messages of kindness toward North Korea. Religious figures in South Korea have recognized their vital role in advancing the people's desire for peace.

The pilgrimage began on February 29 and ends on March 21, passing a number of peace monuments, including the Daegwang-ri Peace Center in Baekmago, the Cheorwon DMZ Ecological Peace Park and the observatory of the unification of Goseong.

The Korean Demilitarized Zone remains a painful 250-kilometer reminder of the war fought on the peninsula from 1950 to 1953. The war followed the capitulation of Japanese colonial forces, which annexed the unified Korean nation in 1910 and remained there until their defeat in World War II in 1945. After Japan's defeat, the Allied countries divided Korea, with the Soviet Union overseeing the North along with the United States. supervise the South. During the split and subsequent unrest and war, some 1,5 million Koreans were displaced from their homes. After the war, many families stuck on opposite sides of the DMZ were never able to reunite or even see their loved ones again.

In July 2023, on the 70th anniversary of the Korean War armistice, a larger interfaith gathering of leaders expressed the sense of urgency, noting:

North Korea continues to pose a military threat with its ballistic missiles and artillery. In response, the United States and South Korea have conducted large-scale joint military exercises on land, sea and air to pressure Pyongyang. The South Korean and North Korean governments have designated each other as their main enemy and are intensifying their rhetoric and confrontations. The United States and North Korea have also suspended negotiations. Additionally, the war in Ukraine triggered by the Russian invasion is increasing tensions between the United States and China and between Europe and Russia. In particular, the war in Ukraine reminded us that war can break out at any time and anywhere, even in a civilized society of the 21st century. If South Korea's support for Ukraine and Russia's military support for North Korea were to occur in tandem, it would not be surprising if war broke out on the Korean Peninsula tomorrow.*

* Fri. Pomnyun Sunim Joins Religious Leaders in Interfaith Peace Declaration on 70th Anniversary of Korean Peninsula Armistice (BDG)

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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