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(LEAD) Politicians seek Buddhists' support on Buddha's Birthday

All Headlines 14:34 May 28, 2012

(ATTN: UPDATES with President Lee's remarks in paras 4-6)

SEOUL, May 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korean politicians were flocking to Buddhist temples on Buddha's Birthday Monday to win the support of Buddhist believers ahead of the presidential election in December.

Rep. Hwang Woo-yea, chairman of the ruling Saenuri Party, Rep. Park Jie-won, interim leader of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP), and Rep. Rhee In-je, interim leader of the conservative minor opposition Liberty Forward Party, were among a number of politicians at a ceremony marking Buddha's Birthday at the main temple of South Korea's largest Buddhist sect, the Jogye Order.

Presidential contenders from rival parties were also present, including Rep. Chung Mong-joon and Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-soo of the Saenuri Party, and Rep. Chung Sye-kyun of the DUP.

President Lee Myung-bak sent his congratulations in a message read by Culture Minister Choe Kwang-shik.

Drawing on the teachings of Buddha, Lee said he hopes the lessons of harmony and service will spread across society and create a country in which everyone lives well.

"Ever since its arrival in the Three Kingdoms period (57 B.C.-668 A.D.), Buddhism has been with our people through joys and sorrows," Lee said in the message. "(It) created a brilliant cultural heritage and became the driving force that gathered people's strength in times of difficulty and led to the overcoming of national crises."

In a comment issued to mark the national holiday, the Saenuri Party pledged to "give full legislative support to further carry on and develop the country's brilliant Buddhist culture" once the new National Assembly begins its four-year term Wednesday.

The DUP also released a comment, expressing hopes politicians and society will "uphold the benevolence taught by Buddha."

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