Buddhists and political leaders bade their final farewell to late Ven. Jaseung, a former leader of South Korea's largest Buddhist sect Jogye, at the funeral held Sunday.
Ven. Jaseung, who served as president of the Jogye Order from 2009 to 2017, was found dead at a burnt dwelling at a temple in Anseong, south of Seoul, on Wednesday, in an apparent self-immolation, or a Buddhist practice of burning oneself alive as an offering to Buddha.
Police have discovered several notes from the monk's car that implied he was about to end his life.
Key Buddhist leaders, other religious figures and high-level politicians, including Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, attended the funeral at Jogye Temple in central Seoul, the chief temple of the Jogye Order. Thousands of Buddhist followers joined the funeral.
"There's only a small difference in terms of time, but everyone dies when their time comes, according to the natural law," Ven. Jinwoo, the incumbent leader of the sect, said in his eulogy, pledging to continue with the late monk's commitment to spreading the religion.
In a separate eulogy read by presidential chief of staff Kim Dae-ki, President Yoon Suk Yeol said, "Every moment the venerable monk had lived will remain alive through the history of the South Korean Buddhism."
"Taking up the monk's teachings, I will more warmly take care of neighbors in need in the spirit of freedom and solidarity and work harder to help hope seep into every corner of people's lives," the president noted.
Following the funeral, the body of Ven. Jaseung was transferred to a temple in Hwaseong, south of Seoul, for a Buddhist cremation ceremony.
Born in 1954, Ven. Jaseung became a Buddhist monk at age 19 and served as the president of the Jogye Order from 2009 to 2017.
He assumed the chairmanship at the Korean Council of Religious Leaders from 2011-2017 and also served as co-chairman at the Korean Conference of Religion and Peace from 2014-2017. Before his passing, he worked as the head abbot of Bongeun Temple in southern Seoul.
His death shocked the Buddhist sect, especially as he had shown a strong desire to further spread the religion until recently.