The leader of South Korea’s biggest Buddhist order has apologized after secret video footage showing monks drinking, smoking and playing poker at a luxury lakeside hotel was aired on national TV.
Leader Master Jinje of the Jogye order – which has about 10 million followers or a fifth of South Korea’s population – promised to “self-repent” on behalf of the eight monks concerned, according to the BBC.
Six Jogye leaders have quit over the scandal, which erupted just days before Koreans observe a national holiday celebrating the birth of Buddha, the holiest day in the Buddhist calendar, according to Reuters.
A senior monk told the news agency on Friday that the gambling session had lasted for 13 hours, with the stakes reaching more than 1 billion won ($875,300).
Gambling is illegal in South Korea except at a single casino in the northeast and is also violation of the code of conduct for Jogye monks, the Associated Press reports.
The footage of the monks was apparently filmed by a monk from the same order in late April and passed on to the media.