S.Korean buddhist monks fined for gambling

A South Korean court said it has fined two Buddhist monks for illegal gambling, after video footage of their high-stakes poker game sparked a scandal in religious circles.

The Seoul Central District Court fined the monks from the Jogye Order, the country's largest Buddhist order, two million won ($1,775) each.

"The court only ordered fines because they showed remorse for what they had done," a court spokeswoman told AFP.

Another monk who filmed the hotel room where the gambling session was held and an engineer who set up the camera were given suspended prison sentences for breaking into the room and damaging it while trying to install the camera.

Prosecutors launched a probe after footage came to light of eight monks gambling at the hotel in southern Jangseong county in April.

Gambling is illegal for South Koreans except for a restricted number of venues, and is also a breach of the Buddhist order's code of discipline.

The eight monks were also allegedly drinking alcohol and smoking in breach of Buddhist rules. Senior leaders of the Jogye order resigned over the scandal.

The order, which claims 10 million followers among South Korea's 50 million people, has been plagued by factional feuds. Dozens of monks were injured when rival factions clashed in 1999.


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