Monk Gambling Prompts Temple to Make Changes

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By K.J. Kwon, CNN

The chief of South Korea’s biggest Buddhist order says he will hand over a temple’s financial management to experts after monks were caught gambling illegally.

Ja Seung said Thursday that the Jogye Order will “focus on asceticism and missionary work.”

Footage from a hidden camera, showing monks gambling, smoking and drinking last month, sparked nationwide criticism. It is not known who shot the video.

The monks spent 13 hours taking part in the high-stakes gambling, according to local media. The Jogye Order refused to comment on the details, saying that all information has been handed over for investigation by the country’s prosecutor’s office.

“Now the society has reached the stage in which monks cannot both focus on asceticism and management. … The lack of systematic expertise in managing the temple has caused side effects — factional fighting and conflicts — for decades,” Seung said in an official news release.

Buddhism has traditionally been one of South Korea’s main religions, with followers making up about 20% of its population, the Jogye Order said.