When Monks Get Punked

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If a group of Korean Jogye monks wanted to party, gamble some, throw back some drinks, and smoke some cigarettes with us, we'd probably be down and wouldn't secretly videotape the whole thing. Then again, we aren't members of Korea's buddhist community or a rival, disgruntled monk. 

"The head of South Korea's largest Buddhist order apologized after several monks were filmed gambling, drinking and smoking in a luxury hotel," reports UPI, adding that a secret tape "on television showed monks apparently playing poker, with some drinking and smoking." Reuters (which calls them "hell-raising holy men"!) has more specifics on these monks gone wild as they allegedly abused Buddhists' funds: "The stakes for 13 hours of gambling were more than 1 billion won ($875,300)," Seongho, a senior monk told the news agency, which adds that six leaders have already resigned in the wake of the scandal. Making matters worse is that this bombshell comes within days of the birth of Buddha--arguably the holiest day celebrated in the Buddhist religion.

Of course, all that gambling and drinking are blatant transgressions for the monks, but we wondered who would secretly videotape them. According to UPI, "Local media reports said the video was thought to have been shot by a Jogye monk who was characterized as an opponent of the current administration." And according to The Korea Herald's Cho Chung-un, "The Jogye Order plans to hold a press conference Friday to release a statement of apology to the nation. However, the order said it will also investigate who installed the camera at the hotel, saying it also violates the law.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.