Buddhist body, nightclub in talks amid concerns over DJ ‘monk’, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Buddhist body, nightclub in talks amid concerns over DJ ‘monk’

Discussions are under way between a local Buddhist body and a nightclub, over the planned performances of a South Korean DJ who dresses like a monk and infuses elements of Buddhism in his shows.

When contacted, Singapore Buddhist Federation president, Venerable Seck Kwang Phing, and Club Rich Singapore, a nightclub in Middle Road, separately confirmed that they are exchanging views over the upcoming performances by DJ NewJeansNim on June 19 and 20.

The club had also told the federation that it has “no intention to disrespect or wish to go against” any concerns of the federation, while Ven Kwang Phing said it hopes for a solution that will be beneficial for both parties.

The federation had earlier called on the authorities not to approve any performances by DJ NewJeansNim.

In a Facebook post on May 19, the Singapore Buddhist Federation said DJ NewJeanNims is not a monk and should not put on a monk’s robe to perform, adding that it is against the Vinaya – a disciplinary code for monks.

It hopes that the relevant authorities will reject the permits for performances to “avoid bringing embarrassment to Buddhists”, it added. The federation is the umbrella body for Buddhist monasteries, institutions, monks, nuns and lay Buddhists. It promotes the practice of Buddhism and is involved in community work.

In a separate Facebook post, the federation’s secretary-general, Venerable Shi You Guang, said the DJ is not a Buddhist monk and that “one should not mislead others in the name of creativity”.

“While exploring the vastness of the world and the opportunities it offers to expand our perspectives, we must respect the curiosity and creativity within ourselves and others,” he wrote, adding that a monk’s robe should never be used as a costume or for cosplay.

Ven Kwang Phing told The Straits Times that the performance may portray a “wrong image” of Buddhism and go against the teachings of Buddhism.

Buddhism is one of the main religions practised in Singapore. Among Singapore residents aged 15 years and above in 2020, 31.1 per cent identified themselves as Buddhists, according to the 2020 census.

所谓‘"日进‘’不是出家人。本不应该’穿僧服,有违佛制。希望有关当局能顾及佛教徒的感受,拒批演出准证。致谢。 "NewJeansNim" is not a monk who should not put on monk's robe to...

Posted by Singapore Buddhist Federation 新加坡佛教总会 on Saturday, May 18, 2024

The DJ, whose real name is Youn Sung-ho, was formerly a comedian. With a shaved head and monk robes, he infuses his electronic dance music performance with Buddhist teachings.

The 47-year-old is welcomed by South Korea’s Buddhist community for promoting “young Buddhism”, Reuters had reported.

The Korea Herald reported that the DJ has the backing of South Korea’s largest Buddhist sect, the Jogye Order, which has employed him as part of its outreach to wider audiences.

Earlier in May, the DJ performed at a three-day Lotus Lantern Festival in Seoul that was held to celebrate Buddha’s birthday.

On April 30, Venerable Jinwoo, the head of Jogye Order – which has some 10 million followers – gifted NewJeansNim with prayer beads and a headset, asking him to keep spreading hope and happiness to young people, Reuters reported.

But outside of South Korea, the DJ has faced backlash.

He performed in a nightclub in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in early May, but his second gig planned for later in the month was cancelled after his performance offended local Buddhists.

Malaysian lawmaker Wee Ka Siong said the DJ had angered the Buddhist community in Malaysia when he performed at the club “disguised” as a Buddhist monk, which gave a wrong perception of Buddhist values and teachings, The Star reported.

“I agree with the Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia and Fo Guang Shan Malaysia, which have called for action to be taken by the authorities to ban a DJ from Korea from performing again at a dance club in Kuala Lumpur,” he said in a statement.

Mr Wee also called on Malaysia’s Ministry of Home Affairs to ban the DJ from performing in entertainment venues in Malaysia again.