The Jogye Order, South Korea’s largest Buddhist sect, said on Thursday that it will carry out radical reform to improve the public image of the order recently tarnished by a gambling and prostitution scandal. The order will separate monks from those engaged in administrative work of temple management and allow them to concentrate on missionary work and religious discipline.
“The size and the role of temples have expanded along with the rapid growth of the Korean society. However, (The Jogye Order) has failed to keep up with the societal transformation,” the Most Ven. Jaseung, president of the Jogye Order, said.
Last month, a Buddhist monk released video footage showing monks gambling, drinking and smoking at a hotel. He also accused the Most Ven. Jaseung, president of the Jogye Order, of procuring prostitution in 2001.
A month after the revelations, the Jogye Order announced a series of reform plans, devised by a reform committee within the religious group, including transferring the role of monks in financial management of temples to trained managers who are not monks. It will establish a training school for Jogye Order employees to learn about overall administrative work, including finance and accounting.
To secure financial transparency, the order will implement a new regulation to disclose its financial sheets to the public. Profits coming from temples will be used toward missionary work, welfare for monks and to improve the management of its temples, the order added.
As part of its effort to improve financial transparency, the Jogye Order will request temples to issue receipts and accept credit card payments. It will also adopt an online ticketing system for temples charging admission fees to visitors.
The Jogye Order will also temporarily operate a correction center under the reform committee and legislate a new law to strengthen disciplinary actions against monks who commit crimes or damage the order’s image.
By Cho Chung-un (firstname.lastname@example.org)