Gambling, drinking monks bow out
Monks affiliated with the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, the largest Buddhism order in the country, have been accused of gambling with hundreds of millions of won.
Due to the outbreak of the scandal, six high-ranking officials of the Executive Office of the Jogye Order resigned from their posts to take full responsibility yesterday.
“Six officials, including the director of the administration and the director of finance, stepped down,” a spokesman of the Jogye Order said. He added that monk Jaseung, the head of the Executive Office of the Jogye Order, has given an order to punish the monks involved in gambling strictly based on the code of Jogye.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said on Wednesday that the eight Buddhist monks were accused by monk Seongho, a former official of the Executive Office of the Jogye Order, through a petition he submitted to the prosecution on Wednesday.
“The eight Buddhist monks of the Jogye Order gambled while intoxicated, with millions of won at stake,” the petition read. “I request an investigation against these monks with corrupt public morals to punish them severely.” The case was disclosed by Bulkyo21.com, a Buddhist media outlet, on May 4.
It reported that eight monks, including three high-ranking authorities of the Jogye Order, played poker from 8:00 p.m. on April 23 to 9:00 a.m. the next day while intoxicated in a suite room in the Baegyang Hotel in Jangseong County in South Jeolla.
It also said that the monks drank luxurious whiskey, smoked cigarettes and used 10,000 won ($8.76) and 50,000 won bills for gambling. The prosecutors said that the eight were staying at the hotel to participate in the last day of ancestral worship rites for monk Susan, a former chief priest of Baekyang Temple who passed away on March 7.
The prosecutors said that the former chief priest Seongho handed in a USB drive that contained a video clip, which is assumed to be taken secretly by an unidentified person. Seongho told the police that he found the USB drive on the floor of his temple.
Officials of the Jogye Order see this as a political move that is systematically plotted by a group of people who were opposed to the next chief priest to be appointed for the Baekyang Temple.
They said that Susan left a letter appointing monk Jinwoo as the new chief priest of the temple weeks before he passed away, but some Buddhist monks who were against Susan suspected the credibility of the letter because Susan’s health wasn’t good enough for him to write it.
“We have agreed to delay the appointment after the ancestral worship rite, but this video clip is somehow taken by an unidentified person and disclosed to the public,” monk Jeongman, director of the Office of Planning, told the JoongAng Ilbo.
He added that CCTV footage showing a Buddhist monk from Geumdang Temple sending a package containing documents slandering Jaseung and Seongho was expelled from the Jogye Order for generating conflict.
By Baik Sung-ho, Kwon Sang-soo[firstname.lastname@example.org]