Buddhists in two Koreas pray together for peace on the Buddha’s birthday

Korean monks recite a joint prayer. In Seoul, 10,000 people prayed in the city’s most important temple. Top monk appeals to South Koreans to become one in bringing peace. President Moon asks Buddhists to pray for the Korean Peninsula.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – South Korea’s Buddhists marked the Buddha’s birthday today with colours and a prayer for peace with the North.

The Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism and the Buddhist Federation of North Korea decided to commemorate the birth of the Buddha together following the historic 27 April summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un.

The Panmunjom Declaration "is a flare announcing a new start of history and a landmark to open up a new era of autonomous unification and connect the divided peoples (of South and North Korea)," the prayer reads.

This is the first time in three years that Buddhist circles in the two Koreas adopt a common prayer for the celebration of the Buddha's birthday.

In the Jogyesa temple, Seoul’s most important, 10,000 Buddhist monks and lay people gathered to pray, including the Venerable Jinje, supreme patriarch of the order, and Venerable Seoljeong, its administrative director. Both religious leaders mentioned the hopes raised by the inter-Korean summit.

In his speech, the Venerable Seoljeong encouraged all South Koreans, regardless of their political stance or class, to become one in bringing peace to the Korean peninsula.

In a congratulatory message read by Culture Minister Do Jong-hwan, President Moon urged the Buddhist community to pray for the Korean Peninsula to usher in an era of peace and prosperity.

Moon will meet US president Donald Trump today to discuss the latter’s summit with Kim Jong-un, whose fate seems compromised. Still, for Minister Do, there is a “99.9 per cent chance the North Korea-US summit will be held”.

Meanwhile, about 20 invited journalists left for North Korea to watch the dismantling of the Punggye-ri site planned for this week. They include reporters from Sky News, CNN, CCTV and Russia Today.

So far South Korean journalists have not been invited but that could change tomorrow.

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