Korea: Buddhists Threaten Anti-President Rally

August 15, 2008

Author: Kang Hyun-kyung

Source: The Korea Times


Leaders of Buddhist groups threatened Friday to hold a massive rally Aug. 27 in Seoul to protest President Lee Myung-bak's alleged discrimination against them unless he offers an apology.

In addition to the apology, monks demanded a binding code of conduct requiring civil servants to maintain religious neutrality.

They issued the statement shortly after Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Yu In-chon ruled out to reporters discriminatory treatment of people based on religion.

"Cabinet ministers have already taken adequate measures against a recurrence of such incidents,'' Yu said.

Buddhists have complained that temple information is unavailable in GPS navigational systems in cars, urging punishment for government officials who issue business permits to GPS providers.

"I understand that the science minister has warned that removing data on Buddhist temples from GPS for vehicles will invite a negative reaction from monks,'' Yu said.

He said, however, that President Lee plans no apology, saying "Lee has already pledged necessary measures to prevent similar incidents from recurring.''

Even before the incident, a feud between Lee and Buddhist leaders had been brewing after he appointed fellow churchgoers to key government posts.