Seoul: The leadership of South Korea's largest Buddhist order resigned en masse on Thursday after video footage emerged of junior monks playing poker with thousands of dollars at stake.
Prosecutors launched a probe after the footage came to light this week of eight monks from the Jogye Order gambling at a hotel room in southern Jangseong County.
Gambling is illegal in South Korea, except for in special areas such as casinos for foreign tourists, and is also a breach of the Buddhist order's code of discipline.
The gambling, which took place last month, was filmed by another monk and the video footage was given as evidence to police. The eight monks were also allegedly drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes in breach of Buddhist rules.
"All the six members of the executive committee of the Jogye Order have tendered their resignations, holding themselves responsible for the incident," a Jogye Order spokesman told.
Jaseung, head of the order, said the monks would face tough punishment and the order is expected to make an apology to the nation as early as tomorrow, Yonhap news agency said.
The gambling controversy is the latest incident in a long-running feud between supporters of the Jogye Order's current administration and its opponents, as the footage was secretly recorded by an opponent and then made public.
Yesterday, one of the opponents, known by his Buddhist name Seongho, sued his eight fellow monks for gambling and betting "hundreds of millions of won."
The Jogye Order, which claims 10 million followers among South Korea's 50 million population, has been plagued by factional feuds. Dozens of monks were injured when rival factions clashed in 1999.



Latest News from World News Desk