Poker Playing Buddhist Monks Gamble For $875kMay 11, 2012 3:10 pm
South Korean frowns upon gambling and only permits non-nationals to play inside its licensed casinos. Consequently, the country experienced a bit of an uproar recently after eight Buddhist monks were caught on film drinking, smoking and playing high-stakes poker a few days ahead of the religion’s holiest day.
On April 23rd, a memorial service was held at a luxury lakeside hotel for one of their fellow monk’s after which the wayward monks gathered in a hotel room for a full night’s partying. Starting at 8 pm, the eight monks played for 13 hours straight until 9 am, during which time 1 billion won ($875,300) was wagered. Giving a clue as to where the monks found such amounts of money to wager, a senior monk called Seong-ho suggested it was taken from donations from believers, commenting:
“Basically, Buddhist rules say don’t steal. Look at what they did, they abused money from Buddhists for gambling.”
The men belonged to South Korea’s largest Buddhist order the Jogye, which has 10 million followers or 20% of the country’s population. The recently obtained video footage is also part of an ongoing internal dispute between the head of the Jogye Order, Ven. Jaseung (pictured right), and expelled senior monk Seong-ho, who in 2010 questioned Jaseung’s qualifications for leadership. Subsequently, Seong-ho filed six court complaints against his dismissal and later staged a demonstration outside a temple accusing Jaseung of lacking ethics.
Following the latest incident, Ven. Jaseung said his order would perform a 108-bow ritual for 100 days in repentance, adding: “We deeply apologize for the behavior of several monks in our order. 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.”