Pacifica Institute organized a delegation to attend the 4th Peaceful Coexistence Conference and debate at Seoul National University titled “Countering Violence Extremism at the Grassroots Level” in Seoul, South Korea.
The program is co-hosted by local Seoul based NGOs, the Korean Council of Religions for Peace, and the Hangang Network. The program has brought together religious scholars and academics from the United States, Turkey, and South Korea.
The first panel was held at the Koreana Hotel- the agenda was about the subject, “liberation / salvation”. The debaters shared their ideas and thoughts about the topic, and exchanged, how their culture, traditions and religion have an impact on their opinions and understanding on the topic. The chair of the panel, Reverend Dr. Taesik John Park, said that “As a chair of the conference, I’m so happy to see distinguished scholars such as yourselves from the United states, Turkey, and Korea. This is the fourth peaceful coexistence conference organized by KCRP, but this is the first time we have had guests from the United States. Your participation in this conference will be very fruitful in terms of understanding interfaith dialogue in Korea and also a chance for us to express our religious diversity.”
The following two days after the conference, religious institutions, schools, hospitals, temples, churches and mosques were visited in South Korea, including a visit to headquarters of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, the Korean Orthodox Church, meeting with the head Dharma Master of Won-Buddhism, Rainbow International School, and a lunch meeting with the H.E. Archbishop Kim. In these meetings, participants had chance to learn more about the other faith traditions, and to exchange ideas.
Later, a round-table discussion was held on the title of “Religious Extremism at the Grassroots Level” at the Seoul National University. Academicians from a variety of universities, local faith leaders, and the members of the Pacifica Institute delegation joined the discussion. All participants shared their ideas on the topic, and all emphasized the meaning and the importance of education and the fact that dialogue activities should be accessible and broad; to include, appeal and create interest in all levels for the public. It was poignant that the religious scholars and commentators do need to take a more active role against this phenomenon of “religious extremism” and extremism in general.
Last day of the trip was the fun part of it. Participants had a chance to interact with the fantastic sites of Seoul and Gyeongbok Palace, and even got to go shopping at the traditional Namdemun Market.
The secretary general, Reverand Gwang Joon Kim said “As the KCRP, we look forward to the opportunity to hold the 5th event in the United States, to experience interfaith dialogue in the United States, and to exchange our experiences with the religious leaders of the United States.”