(LEAD) Yoon meets with Buddhist and Christian leaders for advice after Itaewon tragedy

(ATTN: UPDATING details throughout)

SEOUL, Nov. 08 (Yonhap) — President Yoon Suk-yeol met privately with Buddhist and Christian leaders on Tuesday to seek advice on how to help the nation emerge from the Itaewon mob tragedy. , his office said.

Yoon visited Bongeun Temple in southern Seoul in the morning to meet with Buddhist leaders, then had lunch with Christian elders at the presidential office in Yongsan, his aides said.

At least 156 people were killed in the influx of crowds on a narrow street in Seoul’s popular Itaewon nightlife district during Halloween celebrations on October 29.

During the meeting with Buddhist leaders, including Ven. Jaseung and Ven. Jagwang of the Jogye Order, South Korea’s largest Buddhist sect, Yoon expressed his hope that religious leaders would give encouragement and strength to people after the disaster, according to the presidential office.

Senior monks advised Yoon to provide sufficient explanation to the nation about the tragedy and focus on mending the disagreement and restoring national unity.

“Every dawn we pray to God to show us hope from despair,” Yang Byung-hwi, chairman of the Korean Bible Society board, told the president during the lunch meeting.

The meetings came after Yoon attended Buddhist, Protestant and Catholic memorial services for the victims over the weekend.

The presidential office said Yoon would continue to meet with cleric elders to seek their advice on how to help people overcome a national tragedy and unite and recover through comfort and encouragement.

Yoon plans to meet with other religious leaders in the future as part of the effort, a presidential office official said.

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