Lifestyle & Belief

South Korea monks quit after being filmed boozing, smoking and gambling

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Buddhist monks mourn at the memorial altar for former South Korean president Roh Moo-Hyun in his hometown of Bongha village in Gimhae about 450 km southeast of Seoul on May 27, 2009.

Credit:

AFP

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.