Buddhist Monks’ Gambling Scandal causes Financial Changes

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Last month, the Buddhist community was shocked when eight monks from the South Korean Jogye Order were filmed playing high stakes poker for 13 straight hours. The outrage stems from the fact that they wagered a total of $875,300 throughout the night, which came from followers’ donations.

Seeing as how this has become an international scandal, the Jogye Order has decided to hand their financial management duties over to an unnamed outside group. More specifically, professionals will manage the Jogye’s assets, while the Order itself will “focus on asceticism and missionary work.”

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While the monks were tight-lipped about providing any further details, the Jogye Order’s head man, Ja Seung, discussed the choice by saying, “Now the society has reached the stage in which monks cannot both focus on asceticism and (financial) management. The lack of systematic expertise in managing the temple has caused side effects – factional fighting and conflicts, for decades.”

As mentioned before, this story about monks playing high stakes poker has evolved into a big international story. And the incident has especially had an impact in the country where it spawned because Buddhists make up 20% of South Korea’s population.

Since the scandal broke, area prosecutors have been looking into this case, and six of the eight poker playing monks tendered their resignations. In addition to this, the Jogye Order was forced to do 108-bow rituals following an issued apology that read:

We deeply apologize for the behavior of several monks in our order. The monks who have caused public concern are currently being investigated and will be punished according to Buddhist regulations as soon as the truth is verified by the prosecution.

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