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Buddhist monks resist probe

By Kim Tae-jong, The Korea Times, Oct 10, 2007

Seoul, South Korea -- Buddhist monks Friday voiced their anger over an ongoing probe of financial assistance to temples.

The move came as the prosecution, which has been investigating the allegations of former presidential secretary Byeon Yang-kyoon and degree falsifier Shin Jeong-ah, began suspecting that some Buddhist leaders and temples were involved in the case.

The head monks of 25 parish Buddhist temples, which belong to the Jogye Order, the largest Buddhist sect in the nation, issued a statement calling for a fair investigation into the allegations without groundlessly damaging the reputation of the Buddhist order.

The prosecution now suspects that Buddhist monk Yeongbae, head of Dongguk University's board of directors, was aware that Shin was hired as a professor of the university with a forged academic record.

But Yeongbae attempted to cover it up, and in return, Byeon, allegedly in a close relationship with Shin, arranged the illegal provision of state subsidies to Heungdeok Temple in Ulju, where Yeongbae also serves as chief monk, a prosecution source said.

The statement also said that the Buddhists will take legal action against coverage by the news media which damages their reputation.

It also claimed that the allegation of the Buddhists involvement was a political maneuver that should be stopped.

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