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Korean Christians and Protestants continue vandalism acts on

by Emi hayakawa, BTN, Nov 6, 2012

Seoul, South Korea -- Vandalism and arson of Buddhist temples and treasures, and important cultural properties relating to Buddhism by the Korean Christian and Protestant communities continue. Although many legislative laws have changed to protect cultural properties and national treasure after the tragic arson of the Namdaemun gate, national treasure No.1, vandalism to Buddhist temples and Buddhist treasures continue in Korea.

On October 4th, 2012, an arson tried to burn down the Gakhwangjeon Hall of Hwaomsa Temple in Gurye County, Korea. Fortunately, the fire only made a small damage to the gate of the hall due to quick actions of the monks and the fire prevention restoration made in 2008. 
On the CCTV, the video captured a man pouring a flammable substance across the hall, and according to witnesses they smelt a very arsenic substance coming from the hall before the man threw in a match to burn down the Gakhwangjeon Hall.
Due to this incident, the Korean Buddhist community is in shock once again and fighting for a stricter law enforcement for the perpetrators of vandalism and arson to Korean important cultural properties and National treasures. 
Furthermore, on August 20th, 2012 a Protestant pastor, Seong, vandalized the dharma hall of Donghwasa Temple. This pastor self-proclaimed that he was from the SoonBokEum Church, was caught urinating in the dharma hall and vandalized the Buddhist portraits with a permanent marker. His poor actions was captured on CCTV of the dharma hall.

The Buddhist community was outraged by this act and urged law enforcements to put a stricter punishment as this act cannot be charged with a simple invasion and vandalism punishment.
Although the law enforcement captured the pastor, they considered this act as “unusual” and let the pastor go stating that he was under mental disorientation. Thus, enraging the Buddhist community because the Korean government and law enforcement is very lenient towards destruction of Buddhist artifacts and National treasures.

On November 2011, the stele that accompanied the stupa of National Preceptor Jigwangguksa of Beopcheonsa temple, Korean National Treasure No. 59 was vandalized. A giant cross was drawn across the five meter stone statue and was opened to public on a christian man’s Facebook and twitter page.
Similarly, in November 2011, near the Haewundae in Busan, Korea. Four Buddhist temples reported vandalism and invasion by the Korean Christian community, as they spray painted red lacquer on the hands and faces of the Buddha statues.
Various vandalism of Buddhist cultural properties and Buddhist temples, vandalism and destruction of Korean national treasures have been going for several decades, and these actions are the root causes of religious disharmony between the Korean religious communities.
One of the biggest and significant act of vandalism by Christians was in June of 2006 during the “Again 1907 in Busan” festival by Korean Christians. The Christians prayed earnestly for all the Buddhist temples and monasteries of the Busan area to be destructed, and many Korean citizens were dismayed to find Korean President Lee MyungBak to be the congratulatory commentator of this event.

In February of 2011, there was another scandal where three pastors came to the Jogye temple and ordered the monastics to “believe in Jesus, as {koreans} we are all children of God.”

In 2010, a pastor and college students of the Christian faith invaded Bongeunsa temple and began a “Ground stepping”  and had a protestant ritual for all the ground to be returned to the land of God.

This was wide spread throughout youtube and the internet.
These various vandalism sparks fear of Buddhist discrimination in Korea. Korea is in much need for the harmony of religions, and these vandalism of the Korean Christian and Protestant community need to stop.

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