Korean Buddhist Leader Indicted for Forgery

From the Korea Times:

The prosecution Tuesday indicted without physical detention the head of a Buddhist sect for forging documents to get billions of won in government subsidies.

Ven. Woonsan, head of the Taego Order of Korean Buddhism, received 6 billion won from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism as a subsidy for the construction of a new temple in 2005.

Prosecutors found he manipulated the sect’s bank balance to apply for the subsidy, a prosecutor said…

Ven. Woonsan is accused of borrowing money from members to inflate the sect’s funds in order to gain a grant from the government. Apparently he has admitted it, but a spokesperson insists he did nothing wrong.

Taego (or “Taegojong”) is a form of Zen (“Seon”, in Korean) Buddhism; according to a popular book on Zen published in 2006, it is a minority group which allows for non-celibate ordination:

The Taego sect is headquartered at Bongwonsa in Seoul. Due to its associations with the Japanese occupation, it suffered great losses in the years since World War II. (1)

This appears to be over-simplified; from documents at the Taego Order website it seems that there was a schism between the celibate and non-celibate branches of Korean Zen Buddhism in 1954, after which the non-celibates were suppressed until the new Taego Order was founded in 1970.

Ven. Woonsan doesn’t have much of an internet presence; if you Google him the only thing that comes up is an account a speech praising Rev Sun Myung Moon and his wife:

President Remengesau [of Palau] and Vice President Mumba [of Zambia] joined together with the Venerable Woon San Lee of the Taegojong Buddhist Order in giving congratulatory remarks. They each, in their own way praised True Parents for unifying religions, bringing moral values into the process of governance and most importantly how they are blessing and healing the marriages and the families of the world.

Moon has also been praised by the Order’s General Secretary, In Gok Hong. See this website, scroll down.


(1) James Ishmael Ford, Zen Master Who?: A Guide to the People and Stories of Zen, Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2006

(Hat tip: Cult News Network)