|Main opposition Liberty Korea Party Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn, third from left, stands without having his hands together during an event at Eunhae Temple in Yeongcheon, North Gyeongsang Province, May 12, 2019, Buddha's Birthday. Yonhap|
By Kim Rahn
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) sent beef jerky to Buddhist leaders as Seollal presents but retrieved them later saying there was a mistake in delivery.
According to the party and the Jogye Order, Monday, presents offered under LKP Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn's name were delivered to the headquarters of the nation's largest Buddhist group last Friday ahead of the Seollal, or Lunar New Year holiday.
The presents, presumed to have been purchased at department stores, were beef jerky sets.
The recipients were embarrassed at the presents. One of the key Buddhist teachings suggests avoiding the consumption of meat out of respect for all sentient beings.
Learning about the beef jerky delivery, the party sent staff to the Jogye headquarters later in the day and took back the presents.
"The jerky was supposed to have been sent to other groups, and Hwang prepared other presents for the Buddhists," an LKP official said. "The jerky was delivered by mistake. We collected them, and apologized to the Jogye officials."
Regarding the row, Hwang himself also apologized, Monday. "I heard there was a mistake in delivery, and I'll thoroughly investigate why and how it happened," he told reporters after a party meeting at the National Assembly.
It was not the first time for Hwang, a devout Christian, to cause a stir involving the Buddhists and bringing down criticism on himself for his "biased viewpoints" on religion.
In May last year during a Buddha's Birthday event at Eunhae Temple in Yeongcheon, North Gyeongsang Province, Hwang did not bow ― a courtesy in the religion ― while other political figures participating in the event did so regardless of their personal beliefs.
The Jogye Order expressed "deep regret" toward Hwang at the time in a statement. With criticism mounting from the Buddhist organization, he then apologized, saying, "I had insufficient understanding of other religions. I apologize."