Lifestyle & Belief

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


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.



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.