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  • » 10/05/2010, 00.00


    Three days of interfaith prayers against the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project

    Theresa Kim Hwa-young

    Catholics, Protestants, mainstream Buddhists and members of the Buddhist Jogye Order are against the plan, which could put at risk the country’s environmental stability and destroy communities living along the affected rivers. They also plan to boycott all businesses that back the project, which the authorities are trying hard to sell.

    Seoul (AsiaNews) – South Korea’s four main religious denominations are still together to stop the “Four Major Rivers Restoration Project”, a major development undertaken by the administration of President Lee Myung-bak. Catholics, Protestants, mainstream Buddhists and members of the Buddhist Jogye Order agreed to a three-day prayer vigil against the plan. Religious leaders are also planning to boycott the companies that are backing the project.

    A pet project of the Blue House (residence of the South Korean president), the project involves a number of works that would substantially affect the country’s four main rivers. Seoul would be linked to Busan by a 540-kilometre super “water highway” that would also connect the Han and Nankdong Rivers. The diocese of Incheon already disavowed the project in 2008.

    For critics, the whole plan could threaten drinking water and the country’s environmental stability.

    For the government, it is a “unique” opportunity to move the transportation of goods from roads to waterways and revive the tourist sector.

    For this purpose, the government has also already allocated $US 20 billion, “wasted money” according to opponents.

    Religious groups announced on Sunday that they would carry out a prayer vigil and boycott the project. They also said that they are planning to campaign for a referendum on the project as part of a movement of civil disobedience against the Lee Myung-bak administration.

    “This may be the first time in South Korean religious history that believers of the four major religions are gathering together to hold a fast and prayer vigil for three days,” said Maeng Joo-hyung, a member of the Catholic Solidarity Executive Committee.

    If carried out, the boycott would affect some of the country’s main companies, including Hyundai, Samsung, Daewoo, Posco and the Hanyang Consortium.

    Such inter-faith cooperation is nothing new. Since 13 August, various faith-based groups have been rallying for the cause in front of Seoul’s Daehan Gate.

    Others are organising pilgrimages and torchlight rallies at construction sites.

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    See also

    20/07/2010 SOUTH KOREA
    Religions united for the environment against Four Major Rivers Restoration Project
    Catholics, Protestants and Buddhists are working together to stop the project. Strongly backed by the South Korean government, the scheme could destroy the ecosystem of the country’s major river systems. Masses, demonstrations and prayer vigils are held for strictly religious reasons.

    03/09/2013 SOUTH KOREA
    Church celebrates “Mass for Life” of the Four major rivers
    The Lee Myung-bak’s administration devastated the nation's water resources. Catholics are asking the new government to return things as they were and open an investigation to find out who profited from the project. For Bishop emeritus of Suwon, "The country must be able to breathe again."

    31/03/2010 SOUTH KOREA
    Korean Catholics united against the Four Rivers Project
    For the first time since 1987, the South Korean community of faithful unite to stop the government project that poses a serious risk to the development and ecology of the country. The path indicated by the Episcopal Conference, quoting the Pope: "Nature is God's gift to man, and we are responsible for it."

    15/12/2010 SOUTH KOREA
    Four Rivers controversy hits South Korean Church
    In a speech Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-Shuk announces he is in favour of the "Four Rivers Restoration project. The statement is in total disagreement with the position of the Korean Bishops' Conference, who have opposed to this project for months. This is the first time in the history of the Korean Church that priests have demanded the resignation of a prelate.

    07/04/2016 21:14:00 SOUTH KOREA
    Jogye Order makes public temple revenues, pledges transparency

    In the wake of a new law, South Korea’s largest religious denomination makes public for the first time its revenues. Last year, its two largest temples had a combined revenue of about 40 billion won (US$ 36 million). In the media, the decision was praised. The Catholic Church is cited as an example to follow.

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