Monk hit for justifying gambling
By Yun Suh-young
A monk is under fire for justifying the inappropriate behavior of eight monks caught on video gambling in a hotel room in South Jeolla Province.
The incident is likely to take a turn for the worse because some monks are threatening to disclose more cases of bad behavior and irregularities surrounding the nation’s largest Buddhist sect, the Jogye Order.
Venerable Jeongnyum, a member of the Jogye Order’s executive committee in charge of legal affairs, is being criticized for saying that gambling is just a part of an entertainment culture the monks often engage in.
“Hwatu is not gambling. There are various types of entertainment that monks enjoy and hwatu is one of them. It’s a good activity to prevent Alzheimer’s disease,” said Ven. Jeongnyum on a local radio program Wednesday.
Hwatu is a card game that originated from Japan and usually involves betting money.
Ven. Jeongnyum is being criticized by other Buddhists for making irresponsible comments immediately after the show was aired.
“I don’t think he realizes the seriousness of the issue. If he’s the person in charge of legal affairs, should he be saying this? Even if he wasn’t, it’s not appropriate for monks to gamble or to justify such acts. What the monks were seen doing on the video clip was more than just simple entertainment. It was serious gambling,” a netizen commented on Twitter.
Ven. Jeongnyum’s comments on the radio followed Ven. Seongho’s on the same radio program the previous day. On Tuesday, Ven. Seongho said on the show that Ven. Jaseung, the head of the Jogye Order, and Ven. Myungjin, chief monk of Beongeun Temple in the capital’s Gangnam district, engaged in sex at a hostess bar in southern Seoul.
According to Ven. Seongho, going to the bar itself meant they wanted to buy sex because the place is known to be one that offers prostitution sale.
Ven. Jeongnyum denied Ven. Seongho’s claims the following day on the same show saying that it was true the two monks went to the bar but that they did not engage in sex.
The war of disclosure between the monks began when Ven. Seongho submitted a video clip to the prosecution as evidence of monks gambling and requested an investigation into the case. The relationship between Ven. Seongho and Ven. Jaseung has long been strained since Ven. Seongho was expelled from the Jogye Order two years ago for “spreading false rumors” about Ven. Jaseung.
Meanwhile, as the scandal continues to grow, more monks were arrested Thursday for gambling.
The police arrested 36 inside a Buddhist shrine in Anyang, Gyeonggi Province. Among them was a 59-year-old female who was identified as the former head nun of a Buddhist temple.