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“Go Priests! Go Monks!”

Posted August. 08, 2005 03:04,   


“Season in the Sun” (2003) is a family film about a children’s soccer team in a rural town led by a monk and a priest, overcoming the barrier of religion and becoming one.

The film came to life recently, although the sport was foot volleyball instead of soccer, and the monks and priests were players, not coaches.

At 10;00 a.m. on August 7 in a foot volleyball court in Pyeongchang, Gangwon, four monks from Woljeong Temple in Odae Mountain, which is the main temple of the fourth district of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, and four priests from the parish of Chuncheon faced each other over the net.

The match was an exhibition game for the second Pyeongchang foot volleyball games hosted by the head monk of the Woljeong Temple. The priests accepted the “challenge” from the monks for a match.

In April, Woljeong Temple monks planned on a soccer match with local Catholic priests but had to cancel the plan because the priests were unable to make it.

It was a scorching day with temperatures over 30 degrees, but the monks were in their robes and the priests in shorts and clerical robes for a heated match of foot volleyball.

Monk Jeongnyeom, the Head Monk of Woljeong Temple, played in fur rubber shoes that he wears all year, and a straw hat.

The Woljeong Temple monks have a strong sports team. They beat the Pyeongchang celebrities in April in a soccer match, 2-0 and last year played neck-and-neck against a prominent foot volleyball team of Pyeongchang foot volleyball association members. But the priests were a challenging team.

The priests won the first set, the monks the second. The third and final set went to the priests who beat the monks 16 to 14 after a deuce.

However, smiles never left the faces of the priests and monks throughout the game, who afterwards cheered each other up, handing each other cold water.

Park Jae-hyun, chief of the Woljeong Temple office, said, “The game was meant to break down the barriers between Buddhism and other religions through sports, and to become one with the residents. We will have another match with the priests next year.”

Chang-Soon Choi cschoi@donga.com