Freshly shorn

Updated: 2012-05-20 09:16

(China Daily)

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Freshly shorn

Hye Il touches a monk's head during a service to celebrate Buddha's upcoming birthday of May 28 at Jogye temple in Seoul, South Korea. [[Photo/Agencies]]

The hair is the first thing to go as South Korean youngsters become novice monks, photographers Lee Jin-man and Jung Yeon-je discover.

Living like a Buddhist priest isn't simple, it's a life of hardship, poverty and humility. Now nine South Korean children are experiencing the life of a monk first-hand.

The nine children were initiated into the Jogye Buddhist order on May 13. They will live in the Jogye temple in Seoul as novice monks. To start their new lives, they had their heads shaved in an initiation ceremony.

With more than 10 million followers, Buddhism is a major faith in South Korea, with adherents comprising a fifth of the nation's population.

Some of the children showed immense displeasure at their newly shaved heads, but in the end their youth took over and they were making merry at the expense of each other's baldness.

The Jogye order, which represents traditional Korean Buddhism, dates back 1,200 years, when the faith was first brought to the country from China.

The transition to monkhood isn't easy, even years into the process. Just last week six monks from the order quit after a hidden camera video was released showing the monks drinking, smoking and playing poker.

Agence France-Presse - Associated Press

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