Buddhist leader says GNP interfered in temple affairs
A leader of the country’s most affluent Buddhist temple yesterday said that a ruling Grand National Party official pressured the Jogye Order Secretariat to decide that the Bongeun Temple, in southern Seoul, should run under direct management of the Jogye Order and not autonomously by Bongeun Temple officials.
“I heard that GNP floor leader Ahn Sang-soo told Venerable Jaseung, the newly elected administration leader for the Jogye Order, last November 13 in a restaurant at Seoul’s Plaza Hotel that [he] shouldn’t keep a monk at a rich temple in southern Seoul who’s critical of the current government,” Venerable Myeongjin, head of the temple, said at his Sunday service.
Myeongjin said Ko Heung-kil, the GNP lawmaker who heads the broadcasting committee under National Assembly, and Kim Yeong-guk, an external affairs official of Jogye Order, were also at the hotel restaurant with Venerable Jaseung and GNP floor leader Ahn Sang-soo. Myeogjin said he heard the story from Kim.
Ahn disputed Myeongjin’s remarks. “Ko and I are Catholic and we don’t know much about Buddhist circles,” Ahn said. “I don’t know much about him [Venerable Myeongjin]. How could I have said such a thing without much knowledge?”
The Jogye Order on March 11 decided to have the Bongeun Temple come under its direct management despite fierce protests from Bongeun Temple officials.
“To have Bongeun Temple under direct management of the Jogye Order should have been discussed with executive members of the Bongeun Temple,” Myeongjin said.
“If GNP floor leader Ahn had secret talks with Venerable Jaseung, he should quit his post and retire from politics,” Myeongjin said. “If my words are determined to be groundless, I will leave Bongeun Temple.”
By Ko Jung-ae, Kim Mi-ju [email@example.com]