South Korea's biggest Buddhist sect, the Jogye Order, elected a new executive chief Friday, one month after his predecessor was ousted over corruption allegations.
Ven. Wonhaeng was elected by the sect's Central Council, winning 235 of the 315 votes cast in the election held in the compound of Jogye Temple in central Seoul. He was formerly the chairman of the Central Council.
Wonhaeng will immediately take office to succeed the former Executive Chief, Ven. Seoljeong, who was unseated in August less than one year after his election. Seoljeong lost a no-confidence vote, the first in the Buddhist order's history.
Wonhaeng was one of the senior monks calling for his resignation.
"I feel a sense of responsibility for the dire reality facing Buddhism and our order," Wonhaeng said in a press conference after the election, vowing to listen to the opinions of the Buddhist community.
His four-year term, however, has a bumpy road ahead. He was elected after the other three competitors dropped out of the race on Wednesday, claiming the election process to be unfair.
Some Buddhist groups and senior monks have also threatened to repudiate the new executive chief unless the election rules are reformed.
Wonhaeng's election is subject to approval by the order's council of senior monks, the top decision-making body. (Yonhap News)