Korean Buddhism played key role in Moon-Biden summit

Jill Biden, Gye-ho, the Governor of Jingwansa, holding hands

Jill Biden, Gye-ho, the Chief Monk of Jinkwansa, holding hands

By Dahye Min, Asia N Reporter

SEOUL: “I’ve brought some pictures of First Lady Jill Biden when she visited Jinkwansa Temple in the mountains outside of Seoul in 2015.” President Moon said.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who visited the United States for U.S.-South Korea Summit, surprised First Lady Jill Biden, wife of President Joe Biden, with some gifts – The pictures of Jill Biden taken in Jinkwansa Temple during her visit to Korea in 2015 came with a hand-woven handkerchief made by Buddhist monks and a letter from Chief Monk Kyeho at Jinkwansa.

This gift pack included a pair of cotton clothes for Suryukjae Ritual (wishing and leading the soul of the dead to heaven through food ceremony and ritual) and eight pieces of handmade Dapo (Korean eco-friendly tea towel & deco fabric) made by Buddhist monks of Jinkwansa as well.

Jinkwansa, known as a training facility for Bikkhuni, or female monks, is a Buddhist temple in Seoul that boasts a long history of over 1,000 years. This is the only temple in Seoul which serves Suryukje, a Buddhist ceremony to provide food and the Buddhist teachings to spirits and starved demons who wander the land and sea.

President Moon Jae-in is smiling face to face after passing the photo album prepared at Jingwansa to Mrs. Jill Biden. President Joe Biden introduced himself to President Moon and said, "This is Jill Biden's husband, Joe Biden."

President Moon Jae-in is smiling face to face after passing the photo album prepared at Jinkwansa to First Lady Jill Biden. President Joe Biden introduced himself to President Moon and said, “This is Jill Biden’s husband, Joe Biden.”

Prior to the official opening of the U.S. – South Korea Summit, President Moon met the First Lady Jill Biden at the Medal of Honor Ceremony on May 21st. This gift was prepared by Jinkwansa upon the request of Cheongwadae (Presidential Blue House) and was delivered to the White House via Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea.

First Lady Jill Biden has a special bond with Jinkwansa in northwestern Seoul. During her overnight tour to South Korea, she visited Jinkwansa in the first place. Chief monk Gye Ho and monk Bup Hae led her on a tour through the temple. She expressed astonishment when she saw fermented soy sauce used for Joseon dynasty royal cuisine 500 years ago in Jangdokdae where Korean traditional crocks are placed.

Jill Biden during her visit to Jingwansa Temple in 2015

Jill Biden during her visit to Jinkwansa Temple in 2015

Afterwards, she had a talk about global education for girls and women’s empowerment in society over tea enjoying Korean desserts such as rice cake and fruits. She also learned Zen practice for meditation. Jill Biden received a Baal-woo (a rice bowl for monks) and side snap onesie for newborn from Jinkwansa. With her keen interest in Korean Buddhist culture, she was appointed Honorable Buddhist of America.

Buddhist monk Jinguansa is tying up a gift to Jill Biden.

Buddhist monk at Jinkuansa tying up a gift for Jill Biden

Dr. Jill Biden’s visit to 1,000 year-long Jinkwansa six years ago and deep interest in Korean Buddhism is again in the spotlight in the wake of the U.S. – South Korea Summit. Jinkwansa is emerging on people-to-people diplomatic stage with its historical and cultural heritage to increase mutual understanding between U.S. and South Korea.

Jinguan's letter to Jill Biden

JThe  letter addressed to Jill Biden

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