Six leaders of a prestigious order of South Korean Buddhist monks were forced to quit their order after video footage was released showing the monks playing high-stakes poker games, drinking and smoking.
According to Reuters news service, the video of the monks engaging in bad behavior was released two days before a national holiday marking the birth of Buddha, the holiest day of the Buddhist religion’s calendar. The Jogye order, to which the six monks belong, has 10 million followers worldwide including about a fifth of South Korea’s population.
After the video was released, the monks made a public apology and vowed “self-repentance.” The video aired on South Korean TV and showed footage of the monks smoking and drinking while they played poker at a luxury lakeside hotel last month. The monks were gathered at the hotel for a fellow monk’s memorial service.
A senior monk from the order stated that after 13 hours of gambling, the stakes of the poker games were around 1 billion Korean won (approximately $875,300 in U.S. currency).
In South Korea, it is illegal to gamble outside of licensed casinos and horse racing tracks. Gambling in general is frowned upon by religious leaders and other Buddhist sects have decried the Jogye order for their actions.
Watch the video below.