Youth delegations from Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, and Thailand participated in the 2023 Korean Buddhist Cultural Tour (KBCT) in the city of Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea from 30 August–2 September. The visit was organized by the World Fellowship of Buddhist Youth and hosted by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism.
Participants from Pemuda Theravada Indonesia (PATRIA), the Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM), the Young Buddhists Association of Thailand (YBAT), the All Japan Young Buddhist Association (JYBA), the Buddhist Gem Fellowship, Malaysia, the Young Buddhist Association of Indonesia (YBAI), the Buddhist Missionary Society Malaysia (BMSM), and ZKDM Mongolia all benefited from this unique opportunity to meet, exchange perspectives, embrace each other’s cultural differences, and facilitate exchange between Buddhist youth of various cultures.
The World Fellowship of Buddhist Youth (WFBY) is an international network of Buddhist organizations sharing the aim of propagating the Buddhadharma and promoting solidarity among young Buddhists around the world. Headquartered in Bangkok, the World Fellowship Buddhist Youth first came into being in the Colombo Young Men’s Buddhist Association in Borella, Sri Lanka in 1972. Today, the WFBY’s membership has expanded to 38 regional centers in 18 countries.
The Buddhist youth representatives from these many countries displayed their incredible talents, calling for a strengthening of the bonds of friendship and unity under the one Dharma during the opening ceremony night.
On the second day, the participants visited Bulguk-sa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. The temple contains many masterpieces of Buddhist art with images buddhas, bodhisattvas, and disciples, all realistically and delicately sculpted in high and low relief.
The wooden buildings of Bulguk-sa, which dates to the mid-eighth century, and the neighboring Seokguram Grotto form a religious architectural complex of exceptional significance. Every corner of the complex is full of historical stories, such as Jahamun Gate, the main entrance to the courtyard of Daeungjeon Hall, where Shakyamuni Buddha is venerated. Jahamun Gate means “Gate of The Violet Sunset,” referring to the halo of wisdom emanating from the Buddha. The famed Cheongungyo and Baegungyo Bridges are also part of the temple complex.
The tour program also allowed the youth delegates to visit Gyeongju World Amusement Park, while Executive Board members of the World Federation of Buddhist Youth gathered for a meeting as the meeting required a more formal environment that was expected to find solutions for some contentious issues. The program also aimed to promote interpersonal exchanges, with the view that if young people are happy they should be able to channel their spirits into motivation.
On another day of the program, the participants were invited to visit Uiduk University to experience a taekwondo exhibition and visit the university’s extensive library. As part of this experience of Korean traditional martial arts, the young participants were able to strike targets with their full strength without injuring their training partners. Afterward, they attended a tea ceremony and dessert-making workshops at Ansimjeong-sa in the nearby city of Daegu, the base temple of the Taego Order of Korean Buddhism.
On the last day, the participants experienced a temple stay at Eunhae-sa (or “Silver Sea Temple”), a head temple of the Jogye Order.
The Jogye Order, South Korea’s largest Buddhist order, represents traditional Korean Buddhism with roots that date back some 1,200 years, making it the oldest surviving Buddhist lineage in Korea.
A version of this article was originally published by Dresiani Mareti in The Young Buddhist Editorial.
World Fellowship of Buddhist Youth
World Fellowship of Buddhist Youth (WFBY) (Facebook)
Pemuda Theravada Indonesia
The Young Buddhists Association of Thailand
Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia
全日本仏教青年会 All Japan Young Buddhist Association
Buddhist Gem Fellowship
Young Buddhist Association of Indonesia
Buddhist Missionary Society Malaysia
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