Seoul, Jan 21 (EFE).- Thousands of monks protested in Seoul Friday to seek an apology from the South Korean government for alleged anti-Buddhist remarks by a ruling party lawmaker who criticized temples for charging fees from visitors to national parks.
Jung Chung-rai, a lawmaker from the ruling Democratic Party of President Moon Jae-in, had allegedly compared temples with a legendary swindler known for selling river water for money.
Buddhist temples in South Korean national parks charge 3,000 to 4,000 won (up to $3.5) from visitors, whether or not they visit the religious centers.
The managements argue that the money is for maintaining the temples and private areas in the parks.
South Korea’s largest Buddhist sect, the Jogye Order, has accused the government of harboring anti-Buddhist bias.
The Jogye Buddhist sect had called for the demonstration on Friday.
It was the first such large-scale demonstration in South Korea in the last 28 years when similar protests were held to reform the sect.
The monks gathered at the Jogye Order’s headquarters in central Seoul to demand an apology from President Moon.
They called for more measures to avoid prejudice against Buddhism, one of the main religions in the country) and to preserve the national heritage.
The demonstration took place less than two months before the presidential elections in South Korea.
Analysts believe that the controversy could harm the aspirations of Lee Jae-Myung, the candidate of the ruling Democratic Party to succeed Moon. EFE