Kneeling Korean president raises eyebrows

Posted by Stefan Gigacz

South Korean citizens are apparently getting nervous about increasing religious polarization in the country after President Lee Myung-bak was photographed on his knees at a prayer breakfast in March.

Footage of the event shocked many in this pluralist country, according to the Reuters FaithWorld blog.

The main Buddhist Jogye Order called the scene “unforgiveable,” and even right-leaning media outlets generally supportive of the conservative leader expressed reservations.

Many South Koreans concerned about the country’s increasing religious polarisation are haunted by a single image – their president on his knees. While attending a national prayer breakfast in March, President ??Lee Myung-bak knelt to pray at the urging of Christian leaders.

The Joongang Ilbo daily in an editorial urged Lee, a devout Protestant and an elder at Seoul’s Somang Church, to keep his beliefs private and avoid provoking public ire.

“Buddhists think Christians are getting too much support (from the government)… so are organising more clearly to express themselves through political action and as a political movement,” Yoon Yee-heum, an honorary professor of religious studies and Seoul National University, told Reuters.

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