Disapproval of LKP jerks beefs up

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Disapproval of LKP jerks beefs up

The conservative opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) is facing more criticism for its lack of religious sensitivity after it sent beef jerky to Buddhist leaders.

According to the Buddhist community and the party on Monday, LKP Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn’s Lunar New Year gifts arrived Friday at the office of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. The gift boxes contained beef jerky purchased from a department store, and the recipients were baffled, members of the Jogye Order said.

The order is the largest sect in the Buddhist community in Korea, and its monks have long practiced a meatless diet at the temples, based on the first principle of Buddhism - do not kill.

After discovering its mistake, the LKP sent staffers to recollect the gifts later Friday. “The beef jerky gifts were meant to be sent to other recipients,” said an LKP official. “We issued an apology to the Jogye Order when we collected them.”

Hwang also issued a public apology on Monday. “I offer my sincere apology to the Jogye Order,” said Hwang.

The incident came as the LKP tries to appeal to voters to support its candidates in the April 15 general elections. According to the Statistics Korea’s 2015 survey, Buddhism was the second largest religion in Korea with over 7.61 million people who identify as Buddhists.

It is not the first time that Hwang is facing a backlash for his insensitivity toward Buddhists. When he attended a ceremony to mark Buddha’s birthday in May last year at the Eunhae Temple in Yeongcheon, North Gyeongsang, Hwang, a Protestant, failed to follow Buddhist rituals, such as giving a greeting by putting his palms together and slightly bowing.

After the ceremony, the Jogye Order issued a statement to express its “deep regret” toward Hwang’s attitude. Hwang later apologized for his lack of understanding about other religions.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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