National / Crime & Legal

South Korean monk gets six years in prison for stealing Japanese religious items

Kyodo

A Japanese court sentenced a South Korean monk to six years in prison on Thursday for stealing a Buddha statue and a set of scriptures from a temple in Nagasaki last November.

Kim Sang-ho, 70, together with four other South Koreans, stole the statue, a city-designated cultural property, and 360 volumes of Buddhist scripture, worth around ¥110 million in total, from Bairin temple in the city of Tsushima. They intended to smuggle them to South Korea, according to the ruling by the Nagasaki District Court.

Presiding Judge Satoshi Miyamoto said Kim “made plans and played the key role” behind the robbery on Nov. 24 last year.

Kim’s lawyer insisted on his client’s innocence, saying he was not involved in the planning. But the judge dismissed the claim, saying Kim’s statements were “inconsistent and illogical.”

Kim was charged on suspicion of robbery and breach of customs law. Prosecutors had sought a term of 10 years in prison.