Gambling row hits South Korea monks

media captionJinje, the highest spiritual leader of the Jogye order made a public apology vowing "self-repentance"

The leader of South Korea's biggest Buddhist order has apologised after monks were filmed apparently gambling illegally.

Six leaders of the Jogye order offered to resign on Thursday after the secretly-filmed footage emerged.

Film apparently showing monks playing poker at a luxury hotel, some smoking and drinking, was aired on television.

Gambling is illegal in South Korea, apart from in designated places such as casinos catering mostly to tourists.

Gambling is also a violation of the code of conduct for monks of the Jogye order.

The six members of the order's executive committee offered to resign on Thursday to take responsibility for the incident.

Leader Master Jinje also said he would "self-repent" on behalf of the monks concerned.

The order says it has more than 10 million followers - about 20% of the population of South Korea.

But it has reportedly been hit by feuds and factional infighting.

Local media reports said that the footage was thought to have been shot by a monk from the same order described as an opponent of the current administration.

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