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S. Korean Buddhist group returns from N. Korean temple trip

Yonhap, Nov 7, 2013

SEOUL, South Korea -- A group of South Korean Buddhists returned from a trip to a North Korea temple Thursday after holding joint ceremonies with their North Korean counterparts.

The unification ministry said 21 monks and lay representatives from the Cheontae Order returned safely over the demilitarized zone that separates the two countries at 5 p.m.

The group was given permission to visit Ryongtongsa (Ryongtong Temple) in Kaesong by the ministry a day before the trip. They crossed into the North earlier in the day and held a memorial service to mark the 912th anniversary of the passing of Uicheon.

The Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) monk founded the Cheontae school, which has since become the second largest Buddhist sect in South Korea.

In addition, they held a ceremony marking the reconstruction of the temple that was destroyed by a fire in 16th century. South Korean funds went into the restoration work that was concluded in 2005.

Related to the visit, the (North) Korean Central News Agency said the South Korean group was met by members of the North's Buddhist Federation and monks and believers from Ryongtongsa.

The North's official news wire service said Buddhists from both Koreas agreed to strive for permanent peace and unification of the Korean Peninsula as well as play a role in improving inter-Korean relations.

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