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Ven. Jikwan Sunim, Executive Director of Administration of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism and foreign correspondents stationed in Seoul had a friendly talk to promote understanding of Korean Buddhism and to exchange the views on the current North-East regional issues on 13 July at the Korean Buddhist History & Culture Memorial Hall.
The meeting was presided by Jungsan Sunim, the Chief Editor of the Buddhist News Paper (Korea).
About 20 correspondents were invited including Dongbin Lee, the US ABC News Korea special correspondent, Xu Baokang, chief correspondent for the People’s Daily (China), Vladimir Koutakhov, the Itar-Tass News Agency Seoul chief correspondent, Hirai Hisashi, the Japanese Kyoto News Seoul chief correspondent.
Executive Director Jikwan Sunim gave a welcome address saying, "It is hoped that a closer relationship be established between Korea and your country through your mission in Korea, and I pray for your successful job in Korea."
The US CBS correspondent Mang Ju-seok in reply thanked for the invitation on behalf of other correspondents and said, "We hope to have more occasions like this to have such a good meal again."
To the question by one of the correspondents about the meal at the Korean temple, Hyangjeok Sunim, President of the Buddhist News Paper, explained that at the Korean temple, meals are taken with four wooden bowls according to the temple rule, which is called "Balwoo Gongyang."
There were lively talking and questons during the meal, and among the questions raised were the number of Buddhist devotees, the number of temples, and the number of monks in Korea. Jikwan Sunim answered to the questions in detail, and, in addition, gave the general information on Korean Buddhism.
Valery Orgai, chief correspondent for Rossiyskaya Gazeta mentioned that there is a Buddhist Republic of Kalmyk in Russia, and wished to have more chances to have interviews with Jikwn Sunim.
Cao Shigong, chief correspondent for Chinese Economic Daily said that Buddhists in China stamp seals when they donate to the temple to show their devotion, and asked how it is in Korea. To the question, Jikwan Sunim said that there is no difference in the basic belief though there are some differences in the forms of worship. He also said that Chinese Buddhism is reviving recently after the long period of oppression.
There also was a question about the Buddhist scriptures. Peter-Chang, chief correspondent for the Singpore Asia Inc. said that the Avatamsaka Sutra teaches that all sufferings come from greed. Then what will be the proper way of life in Korea which is suffering from the bipolarization issue? To the question, Jikwan Sunim replied that in Buddhism, greed means selfishness. People should live according to the teachings of emptiness and wisdom for the good of others.
To the question about the recent shooting missiles in North Korea and the international response to the incident in the North-East region, Jikwan Sunim said that as he is not a policitian, he does not know much about the international affairs, but he said tha it is rerettable that Korea has been divided for more than fifty years, and he went on to say that is greatly hoped that through the six-party talks the unification of Korea will be accomplished soon.
After the interview which continued for about an hour, participants shook hands with Jikwan Sunim and thanked for the kind invitaion. The Buddhist News Paper who sponsored the meeting, presented the participants with the traditional Korean green tea and the booklets on the Korean Buddhism.