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(LEAD) Monk demanding largest Buddhist sect's reform stops hunger strike due to health issues

16:41 July 30, 2018

(ATTN: REWRITES first 2 paras; ADDS comments in last 2 paras, photo)

SEOUL, July 30 (Yonhap) -- Rev. Seoljo, a senior Buddhist monk, was taken to hospital on Monday due to deteriorating health, after a 41-day hunger strike to demand the reform of the country's largest Buddhist order and its chief's resignation over corruption allegations.

"He has lost more than 15 percent of his weight. His blood pressure has dropped and he is suffering from an irregular pulse," said Dr. Lee Bo-ra from Green Hospital in northeastern Seoul, where the monk was admitted. "Continuing the hunger strike is likely to put his life at serious risk."

Rev. Seoljo is taken to a local hospital due to deteriorating health on July 30, 2018. (Yonhap)

The monk started his hunger strike on June 20 to press Ven. Seoljeong, the head of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, to step down as chief executive, to take responsibility for allegations of embezzlement and corruption. He is also calling for the reform of the country's biggest Buddhist sect.

It is reported that the monk was insistent on continuing the hunger strike, but people around him have persuaded him to stop.

Before heading to the hospital on Monday afternoon, he released a statement in which he criticized the order's leaders for not doing enough to reform the group.

"The order's leaders kept mum and gave up on their responsibilities. ... The majority of good monks should stand up to correct the sect," he said. "During the strike, I felt most rewarded when (the country's) Buddhists came together to demand the order set right. I hope they continue help build a clean Buddhist order."

This file photo shows Rev. Seoljo during a hunger strike in a tent next to the Jogye Temple in central Seoul on July 19, 2018, demanding reform of the mainstream Buddhist sect. (Yonhap)

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr
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