07/11/2013, 00.00
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Korea, Buddhist monks in turmoil: Gambling and alcohol are ruining us

The venerable Jangju – one of the most important members of the Jogye Order, the largest and most important Buddhist denomination in the country - sounds the alarm: "Some monks are even go to Macau and Las Vegas to gamble. One of us has sold temple land to pay off debts. A cleanout is needed".


Seoul (AsiaNews) - The Jogye Order's monks "are incapable of correcting themselves alone. Alcohol and gambling have become a real emergency: over the years, some religious have squandered community money and property, and must be stopped". So said the venerable Jangju during a press conference; the monk is former abbot of the monastery Oeo Pohang, one of the leading members of the order until last year.

According to the monk, the scandal of the secretly filmed video showing monks drinking, smoking and play poker "is nothing new. In recent years, at least 10 important members of the order have gone even to Macau and Las Vegas to place big bets. I got involved with them, so what I know what I'm saying". According to the religious, "the average betting ranges from 3,000 to 9,000 US dollars, but sometimes they bet for much higher".

One of these corrupt monks "to pay off his gambling debts, went so far as to sell the land to one of our temples without asking permission from the order's leaders. Among other things, he also made a bad deal because, in his desperation, he sold the land for half its value. I denounced all this to the authorities, because the order is unable to correct this situation on its own."

For its part, the leadership of the order rejects the accusations. In a document released after the press conference of Venerable Jangju, the Congregation has called the allegations "false and unfounded" and added that it is "a vendetta, motivated by his being dismissed form the order's leadership".



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