Seoul: Six leaders from South Korea’s biggest Buddhist order have quit after a video surfaced showing several monks playing high-stakes poker, drinking and smoking.
South Korean TV networks aired shots of monks playing poker, some smoking and drinking, after gathering at a luxury lakeside hotel in late April for a fellow monk`s memorial service.
The head of the Jogye order, which has some 10 million followers, made a public apology on Friday, vowing ‘self-repentance’, The Telegraph reports.
The scandal erupted just days before South Korea observed a national holiday to celebrate the birth of Buddha.
Gambling outside of licensed casinos and horse racing tracks is illegal in South Korea and frowned upon by religious leaders.
According to the paper, the behaviour of the supposedly abstemious monks has led to Korean media speculation of a power split within the order.
Meanwhile, the wayward monks have apparently upset many in Korea.
“A group of monks who gamble, drink and smoke in a hotel room is tainted in the eyes of all people in the nation,” civic group Buddhist Solidarity for Reform said in a statement.
The scandal was also slammed on Twitter, with some posts calling for reforms within the sect.