It’s safe to assume that the life of a monk isn’t exactly a party. Although perhaps that assumption is incorrect now that secret video footage which shows leaders from South Korea’s largest Buddhist order playing high-stakes poker, drinking and smoking. The group had gathered at a luxury lakeside hotel (yet another discrepancy not typically associated with monk lifestyle) in late April for a fellow monk’s memorial service.
After the video footage leaked, six leaders resigned, just days before Koreans observe a national holiday to celebrate the birth of Buddha. And this just wasn’t a quick cash game… ”The stakes for 13 hours of gambling were more than 1bn won [$702,859],” Seongho, a senior monk, told Reuters.
Since gambling is illegal in South Korea aside from licensed casinos and is frowned upon by religious leaders, the head of the Jogye order, which has 10 million followers – about a fifth of South Korea’s population – made a public apology, vowing “self-repentance”. Moreover, the funds used in the game were taken from donations.
The order’s head, Jaseung, apologized to all of South Korea’s 12 million Buddhists.
“We deeply apologise for the behaviour of several monks in our order,” he said in a statement. “The monks who have caused public concern are currently being investigated and will be punished according to Buddhist regulations as soon as the truth is verified by the prosecution.”
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