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Whistle-blowing monk takes aim at top Jogye Order official

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Published : 2012-05-15 20:13
Updated : 2012-05-15 20:13

A Buddhist monk who revealed an all night gambling and boozing party by fellow monks said Tuesday that he will make fresh revelations soon, targeting the highest ranks of the country’s largest Buddhist sect, Jogye Order.

“(Next revelations) will include the executive director himself,” Ven. Seongho told reporters at the entrance of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office in southern Seoul where he was to be questioned. He was referring to Ven. Jaseung, the sect’s administrative chief.

Tuesday’s inquiry followed a petition he filed last week, in which he asked the law enforcement authority to investigate the gambling monks.

In the 13-hour video clip which he presented to the prosecution and released to the media, eight monks play high-stakes poker at a hotel room, smoking and drinking alcohol. Gambling is illegal in Korea if it occurs outside the country’s only casino for locals.

The revelation led to the resignations of six senior Jogye leaders and an official apology from Ven. Jaseung.

On Tuesday, Ven. Jaseung started a 100-day meditation period for repentance, taking responsibility for the monks’ misconduct.

Ven. Seongho, however, played down the move as “just a show” and claimed that the Jogye’s Executive Office is corrupt from the very top.

“I will decide whether to disclose evidence, such as photos or video footage to back (my claims,) after watching how the executive director responds,” he said.

The monk, also a Jogye member, has been at odds with the sect ever since Ven. Jaseung was elected executive director in 2009. He was expelled from the order in 2010 for generating conflict and is currently fighting in court to have the decision overturned.

In August 2011, a Seoul court ruled in favor of him, suspending the Jogye Order’s disciplinary action against him.

Jogye Order is the largest sect of Korean Buddhism, with 10 million followers. Its executive body overseas an annual budget of 30 billion won.

By Lee Sun-young (milaya@heraldcorp.com)