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Ground-breaking Ceremony for the Korean Buddhist Cultural Experience Center and Gwangje-sa Temple

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Writer Jogye Date23 Jun 2020 Read4,745 Comment0


Ground-breaking Ceremony for the Korean Buddhist Cultural Experience Center and Gwangje-sa Temple

A special project was launched in Sejong City to facilitate the experience of traditional Korean Buddhist culture and Buddhist religious activities in South Korea’s administrative capital.

On June 17, the Jogye Order Commission on Holy Buddhist Projects marked the official beginning of the project in the ground-breaking ceremony to build the Korean Buddhist Cultural Experience Center and the Dharma Hall of Gwangje-sa Temple in Mt. Jeonwol at San 82, Sejong-ri, Yeongi-myeon, Sejong Special Autonomous City.

The Jogye Order purchased the land in Sejong City, de facto administrative capital of Korea, six years ago in 2014 to establish a culture center and a Buddhist temple that would play a central role in the Buddhist propagation of the region.

The Jogye Order’s propagation strategy in this region is two-pronged. While the Korean Buddhist Cultural Experience Center is to provide the residents of this young, ultra-modern city some access to the traditional cultural resources of Korean Buddhism, Gwangje-sa Temple will serve as a religious and spiritual center for the Buddhists living in the area.

The Korean Buddhist Cultural Experience Center and Gwangje-sa Temple will be constructed on the land area of 16,000㎡ (4,840pyeong). The former will be in particular built in a grand scale on the site whose total floor area amounts to 5,495.96㎡ (1,662.5pyeong) with three stories above ground and one below ground. The Center will be fully equipped to host various cultural as well as religious functions, such as Buddhist art exhibitions, Buddhist ritual dance and music performances and Seon meditation retreats and classes.

<Picture> Architectural drawing of the Korean Buddhist Cultural Experience Center and Gwangje-sa Templeat Mt. Jeonwol, Sejong City. The Center, with a traditional Buddhist temple on site, will serve as the most important religious and cultural institution in the region.

The grand Dharma Hall of Gwangje-sa Temple, whose total floor area will be 306.18㎡(92.6pyeong), is located on the same site as the Korean Buddhist CulturalExperience Center, and built in a traditional temple architectural style. The total budget for this project is 500 million won, which is to be raised through the Million Vows Assembly campaign. The first stage of the project will be completed by December 2021, which will be followed by the second stage where other temple structures will be added to the grand Dharma Hall.

The masterplan set by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism is to make Mt. Jeonwol as a religious and cultural hub that serves not only the four-fold community of monastics and lay Buddhists, but also all the ordinary citizens living in the area by improving their standard of living and attracting tourists through the traditional cultural experiences the Korean Buddhist Cultural Experience Center and the temple will provide, which will naturally result in the dissemination of Buddhism in South Chungcheong Province.

The congratulatory remarks offered at the ground-breaking ceremony by VIPs clearly expressed the intent and direction of the Jogye Order’s vow. In the opening speech, Most Ven. Wonhaeng, the president of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism said, “The Korean Buddhist Cultural Experience Center, to be built on the slope of beautiful Mt. Jeonwol overlooking the entire Sejong, will form a core of the traditional cultural assets in Sejong Special Aunatomous City and neighboring regions, where not only Buddhists but all citizens can enjoy traditional cultural resources.”

He continued by saying, “The Constitution of Republic of Korea defines the preservation and development of the traditional culture as one of the republic’s key missions, which will reinforce the nation’s competitiveness. We must expand the position that the traditional culture holds in the nation’s life by making it available to the public in various ways so that it will be integrated as part of the people’s daily lives.”

In that respect, the Korean Buddhist Cultural Experience Center will perfectlycomplement Sejong City and its lack of cultural heritage and tradition.

Speech after speech followed, made by honored guests as a vow to see the Korean Buddhist Cultural Experience Center and Gwangje-sa Temple becoming one of Sejong City’s landmarks. Ven. Jeongmuk (Chairman of the Abbots Council of the Jogye Order Headquarter Temples) said in his congratulatory remark, “I have no doubt that this grand project launched today will soon grow into a new magnificent landmark of Sejong City that will play a pivotal role in promoting Korea’s superior traditional culture and its Buddhism to the rest of the world. Today, we are laying a solidfoundation upon which the renaissance of Korean Buddhism, the stabilization of the Korean peninsula and the world peace will all be accomplished.

Ven. Bongak, the Chairwoman of the Korean Bhiksuni Association also wished in her speech that the Center and Gwangje-sa be “a refuge where women, children and young adults can come and rest anytime, where they can have fun and meaningful cultural experiences, where families can come and learn how to meditate in a peaceful environment. I hope they will be far more than just grand buildings, where the Buddhist culture is kept alive for all citizens.”

Mr. Chunhee Lee, the major of Sejong City also expressed his confidence that the Korean Buddhist Cultural Experience Center and Gwangje-sa Temple will upgrade Sejong beyond Korea’s administrative capital and make it its cultural capital as well. In his congratulatory remark, he said, “The Korean Buddhist Cultural Experience Center and Gwangje-sa Temple will be adorned by parks, lakes and the national arboretum, turning Mt. Jeonwol as the most important site for healing and cultural experiences for all Sejong City residents. I hope someday Sejong will be Korea’s cultural capital as well as its administrative center.”

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