A Buddhist temple to boost the friendship between S Korea and Pakistan

The Venerable Wonhaeng, leader of South Korea’s Buddhist Jogye Order, visited Pakistan for a week. The founder of Korean Buddhism came from what is now Pakistan. The Jogye Order’s chief abbot met Pakistan’s president and prime minister in Islamabad. Peaceful coexistence between religions in Pakistan is possible.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Pakistani government has authorised the Jogye Order to build a Buddhist temple at a site that is historically connected to Buddhism. The leader of the order, the Venerable Wonhaeng, made the announcement during a visit to the South Asian country at the helm of a delegation of monks.

The abbot rarely travels and this one carries great symbolic value. His visit to Pakistan lasted from 16 to 24 November. Upon his return, he analysed the results of his visit, speaking about it following a religious ceremony in Seoul a few days ago.

“I was deeply moved,” he said, “when I first stepped into Pakistan because it is the home country of the Ven Marananta, who brought Buddhism to Korea about 1,600 years ago.”

During his stay, the abbot met privately with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan followed by another tête-à-tête with President Arif Alvi.

Khan himself said that he authorised the construction of a temple linked to the Order in one the sites most closely associated with Buddhism.

For his part, the Venerable said: “I was impressed by the Pakistani government's ceaseless efforts to preserve historic sites having a trace of Buddhism.”

Likewise, President Alvi stressed that religious groups can live peacefully in Pakistan. He went on to say that he hopes to see many South Korean Buddhists visit his country.

At present, Pakistani Buddhists number 1,500 out of a population of 197 million people. South Korea has a population of 52 million citizens with more than 20 million Buddhists (mostly members of the Jogye Order), but their numbers are down as there is no official registration for membership in the group. Christians are 26 per cent of the population, over 11 per cent Catholic.