SEOUL, Feb. 11 (Yonhap) -- Leaders of South Korea's seven largest religions on Monday urged the nation to join in centennial events commemorating the March 1, 1919, independence movement against the brutal Japanese colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula and inherit the spirit of the movement.
The heads of the seven religions, including Buddhism, Protestantism and Catholicism, held a news conference in Seoul and said they earnestly ask all South Koreans to inherit and commemorate the spirit of the March 1 independence movement.
"The March 1 movement is not a mere declaration of independence from colonial Japan. It was a declaration that all human beings are equal and represented hope for a new world humankind will build together," the religious leaders, who all belong to the Korean Conference of Religions for Peace (KCRP), said.
They also noted that the March 1 movement gave birth to Korea's provisional government and forms the backbone of South Korea that is being transformed into a just, free and fair country.
"The spirit of the March 1 movement has been the buttress for our nation to overcome the times of repression and suffering over the past 100 years," the leaders said.
The seven religious leaders on hand at the news conference included Catholic Archbishop Kim Hee-jung; Lee Hong-jeong, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Korea and Wonhaeng, leader of the Buddhist Jogye Order. In addition, Lee Yong-sun, senior presidential secretary for civic affairs, and representatives of civic groups involved in the centennial events of the March 1 movement also attended the news conference.
The March 1 movement, which began in Seoul on that day exactly 100 years ago and spread throughout the country, has been known as a nonviolent civil resistance against Japan's colonial occupation.
Detailed data are not available but historians estimate that more than 2 million Koreans participated in over 2,000 demonstrations to call for independence from Japan.
The seven religious leaders said they will actively participate in various centennial events being prepared by the government and civic groups in memory of the March 1 movement.
The seven religions will take part in the government-organized main centennial ceremony scheduled to take place at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul on March 1, as well as separate ceremonies planned in numerous provincial cities.
Each of the seven religions will simultaneously ring a bell at all churches, cathedrals and Buddhist temples for three minutes beginning at noon on March 1 and hold respective centennial ceremonies.
The KCRP plans to hold a peace prayer meeting by many religious people from around the world at Dorasan Station, north of Seoul, on Feb. 20. About 250 religious leaders from home and abroad and historians plan to attend the prayer meeting to reflect on the meaning of the March 1 movement.
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