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Yoon, First Lady Attend Ceremony Marking Return of Buddhist Relics

Written: 2024-05-19 14:30:48Updated: 2024-05-19 15:13:21

Yoon, First Lady Attend Ceremony Marking Return of Buddhist Relics

Photo : YONHAP News

President Yoon Suk Yeol and First Lady Kim Keon-hee attended an event on Sunday celebrating the return of rare Buddhist relics from a Boston museum in the United States.

In the ceremony at the site of Hoeam Temple in Yangju, Gyeonggi Province, the president said that the return was a difficult problem that could not be solved for a long time, but South Korea-U.S. relations that have become closer have produced a breakthrough.

The ceremony marked the April 16 return of "sarira," the remains of Buddhist monks from Korea's 14th century Goryeo Dynasty, by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

The rare relics were originally enshrined at the stupa at Heoam Temple but are presumed to have been illegally taken out of the country during the Japanese colonial era.

In 2009, the Buddhist communities of North and South Korea adopted a joint agreement to secure the return of the relics and began negotiations with the museum, but discussions have been halted since 2013.

Discussions reportedly resumed last year after the first lady visited the museum and called for resuming talks on the return during President Yoon's state visit to the U.S. in April last year.

In February, the museum agreed to donate the remains to the Jogye Order, the largest sect of Korean Buddhism.

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