Representatives of Chinese Buddhists transferred a wooden statue of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, or the Dizang Buddha, to South Korean Buddhists in Seoul on Friday.
"The mutual exchanges and cooperation in Buddhism between China and the Korean Peninsula is one of the most important method of the bilateral cultural exchanges between our two nations. I wish the buddha statue can promote the relationship between the peoples and buddhists in our two countries, " said Ye Xiaowen, president of Religious Culture Communication Association of China, at a ceremony held at the Bongeunsa Temple.
The statue, 1.88 meters tall, was made of Chinese juniper from Taiwan province. The statue of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva is related to a prince of Silla (Korea) known as Kim Gyo-gak in his homeland. Kim traveled to China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) and settled at the Mount Jiuhua in Chinese eastern province of Anhui to practice Dharma. He passed away at 99 there. Chinese Buddhists believed Kim was an incarnation of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva.
More than 4,000 South Korean buddhists participated in the ceremony. Officials including South Korea's Parliament Speaker Im Chae-jeong and Cultural Minister Kim Jong-min sent messages to congratulate the ceremony.
"More than 1,200 years ago, Silla Prince Kim Gyo-gak traveled to China and was honored as an incarnation of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, leaving a legend of Sino-Korean friendship. On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and South Korea, the return of the statue will enhance the traditional Sino-Korean friendship," said Chinese Ambassador to South Korea Ning Fukui at the ceremony.
China and South Korea set up formal diplomatic ties in 1992.