A South Korean TV aired video of eight monks playing poker,some are even smoking and drinking, after gathering at a luxury lakeside hotel in late April for a fellow monk's memorial service.
The scandal erupted just days before Koreans observe a national holiday to celebrate the birth of Buddha, the holiest day of the religion's calendar.
The behavior of the supposedly abstemious monks has led to Korean media speculation of a power split within the order.
"A group of monks who gamble, drink and smoke in a hotel room is tainted in the eyes of all people in the nation," civic group Buddhist Solidarity for Reform said in a statement.
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