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If People Really Care about Jiyul...

Posted February. 01, 2005 22:54,   


Monk Jiyul reportedly is in serious health condition as she marks her 98th day of a hunger strike as of February 1. She has already medically challenged her limit, according to doctors. Jiyul is now in a condition in which she should stop her hunger strike and get medical treatment as soon as possible.

However, Jiyul seems to have no intention to stop her strike at Sungto building in Seocho, Seoul, calling for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on Mount Cheonsung for the tunnel construction of the Seoul-Busan railways. On January 31, Lee Ki-mook, Chief of the Korean National Police Agency, visited Jungto building and said to Jiyul’s assistants, “Let’s take Jiyul to the hospital,” but they refused the proposal saying, “We should respect Buddhist nun Jiyul’s will.”

Under the circumstances, support and sympathy from all around have been overwhelming. Leaders of religious circles such as monks and priests have been praying for Jiyul since last week at Jogyesa, a Buddhist temple in Jongro-gu, Seoul. A group of Jungto members have been holding a marathon prayer since January 30. Some teachers from The National Union of Teachers and Teacher’s Group Thinking the Environment have staged hunger strikes following Jiyul’s. On February 1, around 30 lawmakers made a special group calling for saving Jiyul and reopening the EIA. If the environment problem was important, lawmakers should have taken the lead on the issue.

Sympathizers said all together “We should save Jiyul.” However, it is very lamentable that their belated sympathy seemed to have driven Jiyul to a dead end. Joined hunger strike of various social circles and marathon players could be a tacit pressure on Jiyul to continue her hunger strike until the government bends its knee.

Even though Jiyul’s supporters and social pressure have increased, for the government, it is hard to change its stance. This is because tunnel construction in Mount Cheonsung has already been suspended by the petition of environment protection groups.

If so, it is certain what Jiyul’s sympathizers have to do. They should persuade Jiyul to halt hunger strike. If they let her continue her demonstration, it is almost the same as people assisting her suicide. Now, we may well know her will, and we can resolve the problem after saving Jiyul.

Cha-Su Kim kimcs@donga.com