Thursday, March 05, 2009

I thought it was the non-Buddhists who were upset about the hiking fees.

The title is awkward or misleading, but "Buddhists angry again over temple entrance fees" in the Korea Times describes a problem that began two years ago.

Starting January 1, 2007, National Parks dropped their entrance fees but entry did not become free. Temples on the park grounds continued their fees (which had been about half of the original fee) and often increased them.

People have been upset about paying the fees to the temples when they visit the parks exclusively to hike and do not even go near the temples. More (actually, not much more, but..the same?) from this website at the time.

Finally, a group sued.

A provincial court’s ruling banning temples from collecting fees from mountain hikers has drawn strong protest from Buddhists.

The Jogye Order, the largest Buddhist sect in Korea, is even considering shutting down gateways to mountains owned by Buddhist temples.

The reaction came out after the Uijeongbu District Court ruled Tuesday that Jajaeam, a small temple on a mountain in Dongducheon, northeastern Gyeonggi Province, should return the entrance fee of 1,000 won ($0.65) each it had imposed on 22 climbers, who jointly filed a suit last August.

Commenters at the Korea Times are disgusted that the hikers are upset about such a small amount of money. I understand their (the commenter's) feelings but wonder if the hikers are more concerned about supporting Buddhism.

As a foreigner, Buddhism, even after ten years in-country, is novel and exciting for me. I don't mind giving them a little support.

At the same time, I am an atheist and unwilling to support religion in general and would not be eager to pay the fee if it supported a Christian church, for example. I understand that my viewpoint is contradictory but I hope it is not hypocritical. I am for supporting the temples for purely cultural reasons, even though I do not want to support any religion.

If the weather is good, I'll be hiking tomorrow at Seoraksan and I'll let you know about the fees there.


Masuro said...

I also do not mind paying a bit of money to upkeep the temples. I don't like supporting religions but the temples improve the beauty of the park and are cultural sites. What's more, they don't mind people looking around the temples and taking photos (within reason, of course). Christian groups put up little shacks on hills for prayer retreats and they are an eyesore.

kwandongbrian said...

I guess the temples have to let you in and nose around as the flip side of you having to pay even to come near the temple.

Grim weather here, so no hiking today.

Daniel Costello said...

Saw this and thought of you, looks like looking good in a bikini is a big draw for that dream job you applied for...

Anonymous said...

I haven't kept up with your blog... how did the palsy work out?

kwandongbrian said...

Hey humanist,

Read my blog and find out!
Oh, alright. It cleared up after about two weeks, as it is known to do. It's strange; no one knows why you get it but it is well known to go away after ten days or so.

The disease makes me consider the origins of religion. Here is a disease that is rare (striking one in a thousand, one in ten thousand?), has no known cause and disappears after a few weeks, leaving no trace. If I were in an information-poor society, for example Mesopotamia, three thousand years ago, I might think God did it. Ten days is enough time for me to get a religious leader involved and at that point, the problem would go away.