5 Jan 2011

Gang rape allegations may have been fabricated by leader of Korean cult in Canada to mask his own sex crime

Toronto Sun - Canada October 19, 2010

Gang rape allegations orchestrated by church leader, lawyer says


One of the so-called victims of alleged gang rapes within a Korean "cult" now says the allegations were fictitiously scripted by the "cult leader," a lawyer for one of the accused charged said Tuesday.

The case unravelled in March after a teenaged girl and three young women told police they were drugged, beaten and gang-raped by a group of men whom they had met through a Korean church between the fall of 2009 and February 2010.

Three men were arrested before a fifth complainant came forward, prompting the arrests of two sisters who are, according to defence lawyer Jacqueline An, the nieces of Pastor Jae-Gap Song, who leads the so-called church.

A sixth complainant came forward in May, An said.

Since their arrests, An has maintained that the story was orchestrated by Song, who she says controlled roughly 50 people, many of them here on visas from Korea, kept them behind locked apartment doors and made them craft and wear matching uniforms.

Orangeville Police records show Song was arrested on March 14 on one count of sexual assault, which stems from an alleged attack exactly one month earlier.

An alleges it was that attack that Song was trying to mask by forcing a group of his followers to go to police with bogus rape stories.

One of those victims went to An three weeks ago with a 50-plus-pages "script" that outlines what the women were made to tell police, An alleged.

The woman, in her mid-20s, said Song wrote and made the women memorize the script, which outlined the alleged drugging and gang rapes, An alleged.

Police could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

"Song is one scary animal. He's a Korean version of some sick sexual cult leader," An charged, adding the woman "escaped" from one of the apartments after lying about where she was going.

An said she asked the woman whether the allegations were true, to which "She said, 'No, it's all fabricated.'

"She brought pictures of the place that she was held in custody, all the locks inside the house, not outside ‹ she couldn't leave. She brought a picture of an alarm that when you leave the house, it will ring, to keep track of her. She was never alone. She had to plan like two months for this escape."

An called on police to look into the new evidence, which she said was brought to them by the woman.

"This is a complete fabrication," she said. "Why are the police not doing anything? She said she escaped custody, he would (allegedly abuse) her, he (allegedly) threatened her to make up these crazy allegations against these poor innocent people."

A preliminary hearing for three men and two women is set for next summer. Three more men are wanted on warrants after An alleges they were "sent back home (to Korea) by Song."

This article was found at:



Global News - Canada March 22, 2010

Alleged gang rapists free on bail

Darryl Konynenbelt, Global News

Three alleged gang rapists are now free on bail, but not soon enough according to their lawyer.

Toronto's Hyung Jun Ha, 26, and Sang Cheol Lee, 37, as well as Jong Il Lee, 33, of Orangeville, have been charged with various counts of gang sexual assault, forcible confinement, threatening death, administering a drug for sex, assault and making child pornography. One of the four female victims is a minor.

Police say the suspects got to know the victims through a Korean community church in North Toronto.

Outside the courtroom, Global News discovered a group of church members siding with the accused.

"There is a call for a healthy dose of skepticism," said Ian Shoub, a lawyer who spoke for the church members.

"Many doubt these charges", he said.

Journalist Jay Jung, a reporter for Korea Times Daily, began investigating the church after members, including the suspects, recently broke away from the congregation.

"They felt Pastor Song had done something wrong and it was not right," Jung said.

Jung is referring to Pastor Jae-Gap Song, a man ex-church members say tried to wield too much control over a congregation of 50 women and 10 men.

Global News has also learned church members at one time all lived together in an apartment in West Toronto.

"I will call him a fanatical leader," said Shoub. "This is what this case is all about."

Global News tracked down Pastor Song to what is reportedly his home in West Toronto. He did not responded to the accusations by ex-congregation members.

A Canada-wide warrant has also been issued for three other men in the case: Jin Hyun Kim, 33, Yoon Hyun Cho, 26, and Jung Jay Lee, 26, all of Toronto.

Police say the gang sexual assaults occurred between the fall of 2009 and last month.

This article was found at:



Accused rapist cult leader faces extradition to Korea

S.Korea cult leader jailed for 10 years for sex crimes

Lawsuit by former employees alleges Dahn Yoga business is a deceptive, abusive cult

How Cults Rewire The Brain [video]

Cults on campus: how to spot recruiting techniques of predator conmen


  1. Sects, money and tragedy have history in Korea

    ‘Believers are robbed of decision-making abilities. That’s why violence is possible and dangerous.

    BY SEO JI-EUN, Korea JoongAng Daily May 26,2014

    The sinking of the Sewol ferry and the hunt for the shadowy pastor-businessman behind the company that owned and operated it has gripped the nation.

    For Lim Young-sook, a 57-year-old housewife in Seoul, it has brought back extremely bad memories of her own family’s tragic brush with Yoo Byung-eun 17 years ago.

    Lim’s late mother lived alone in the 1990s in a spacious apartment in Seoul’s Gwanak District. She was known in the neighborhood for being affluent.

    A group of strangers befriended her and started dropping by to chat and give her massages. The chats became more frequent, until the point they convinced the old woman she could be saved if she simply joined their religious group: the Evangelical Baptist Church, better known as Guwonpa, or the Salvation Sect, founded by Yoo and his father-in-law.

    One day in 1997, the mother declared to her family that salvation had indeed come to her while listening to a tape of one of Yoo’s sermons.

    “Guwonpa believers make a record of the exact time at which they got saved, the moment they felt this enormous wave of emotion,” Lim said. “My mom was not an exception.”

    But salvation came at a price. Lim’s mother had been buying from her sect friends large amounts of squalene, a type of dietary supplement made from shark livers, which cost 1.3 million won ($1,270) per box. She bought many costly and shoddy items at inflated prices, some of which remain in her house. Lim thinks her mother spent hundreds of millions of won on them.

    Then the mother was offered the opportunity to invest in a “heaven-like silver town with top-notch medical staff and facilities” the church was building. She forked over 560 million won, a big portion of her assets, without telling her sons and daughters.

    Before long, Yoo’s Semo Group filed for bankruptcy with more than 300 billion won in debt. The 560 million won promissory given to Lim’s mother was worthless. Devastated by the loss and betrayal, the mother was never the same and eventually passed away in 2008 following a lengthy stay in a hospital.

    “The Salvation Sect obviously took aim at my mother, who was old and lonely but with a lot of money,” Lim said. “They also rope in people who aren’t rich. But they have to work for free to the church.”

    There’s nothing wrong with people offering their labor to a church they believe in. The problem with Yoo, according to Tark Ji-il, a professor of religious history at the Busan Presbyterian University, is that the entrepreneur-pastor built up his businesses through his power as a religious leader - and on the assets or labor of his believers - and then used those businesses to become personally rich.

    “Yoo may have started out as a charismatic religious leader but after 40 years he has been blinded by selfish interests and desires,” Tark says. “Yoo preached that corporate activities are equivalent to religious activities … He used his followers as a tool to bloat his wealth.”

    Chung Dong-seop, a Christian pastor who was once a part of the Salvation Sect, said in a radio show on April 24 that Yoo, 74, “expanded his business through a sweating system of its believers and exploitation of their labor.”

    continued below

  2. At the same time, he also ran his businesses unsafely. A series of former Salvation Sect followers have gone public since the Sewol sinking saying they volunteered to help build ferries operated by Semo Group on the Han River starting in 1986. Semo became the subject to an investigation after three of its ferries collided with Mapo Bridge during a flood and capsized in 1990, killing 13 passengers and losing one who is still considered missing. The company was formally cleared of any liability.

    “Working hard at companies run by Yoo’s church was identical to salvation and an act of worship,” the former follower-pastor Chung said. The Korea Broadcasting System on April 23 ran an interview with a former employee of Chonghaejin Marine, operator of the Sewol, who said more than 90 percent of the company’s workers are followers of Yoo, although the church officially denied it.

    A joint investigation team of police and prosecutors has gotten testimony from executives of Chonghaejin Marine, saying that being a Guwonpa believer was a prerequisite for a promotion to higher positions at the company.

    Salvation for self-abnegation

    Korea has a tradition of religious sects that exploit believers and evolve into big businesses that enrich their leaders and their families - and often lead to death, suicide or fatal accidents like the Sewol’s sinking.

    Smaller cults have flourished offering salvation for some form of self-abnegation before collapsing in crime or waves of their followers’ blood.

    In 1982, a woman named Kim Gi-sun founded a Christian-rooted cult, deifying herself. The Trinity, according to her, consists of singing, dancing and laughter and she proclaimed she was clean and sinless because she was aga, a baby in Korean.

    Attracting hundreds of believers, she ran a large-scale farm called Aga Hill on 106 acres in Incheon, Gyeonggi. She also ran the biggest record store in Seoul called Shinnara. Believers worked for no pay and surrendered their own property or wealth to the cult.

    The cult collapsed in 1996 after dozens of believers reported that Kim ordered the murder of defecting devotees and secretly buried their bodies. A court, however, acquitted her of murder, citing a lack of evidence. Kim, now in her 70s, was instead sentenced to a four-year prison term for tax evasion and embezzlement and was released on bail later.

    A Christian doomsday cult in the 1980s called Yeongsaenggyo, literally “eternal life,” ended badly after founder and leader Cho Hee-seong was charged with extorting money and labor from his believers and ordering some to kidnap and murder nine people who were trying to flee the religion or who slandered Cho. He was declared not guilty of murder due to a lack of evidence but was sentenced to two years in prison for harboring convicts. He died of a heart attack in prison in 2004.

    The Salvation Sect at the center of the Sewol tragedy traces its origins to the Evangelical Baptist Church, founded in 1962 by Yoo and his father-in-law Kwon Shin-chan. Kwon claimed he was “saved” on Nov. 18, 1961. The church later split into three sects run by different leaders. The two other sects have churches across Seoul and Daejeon that have no connection with Yoo’s Salvation Sect.

    continued below

  3. The Salvation Sect is known to teach believers they will earn the right to heaven irrespective of their sins - but only after they are formally “saved.” The Presbyterian Church of Korea officially characterized Yoo’s Evangelical Baptist Church as heretics in 1992 for violating mainstream Christian beliefs.

    Yoo transformed himself into an entrepreneur in the early 1970s by acquiring a trading firm, becoming chairman of the Semo Group in 1979. Despite Semo’s eventual collapse, Yoo rose from a mountain of debt to become a multi-billionaire in less than two decades. The accumulated value of the assets owned by Yoo and his two sons and two daughters is estimated at over 240 billion won.

    Prosecutors describe a pyramid-like structure of dozens of subsidiaries under the holding company I-One-I Holdings. They say Yoo has no stake in any of the subsidiaries but is the de facto mastermind of all the operations. The basis of all the business was the bank accounts or other assets of the sect’s believers.

    Scandal touched the sect in 1987 when the bound and gagged bodies of 32 people were found stacked in two piles in a factory in Yongin, Gyeonggi. All of the dead were either workers at a handicraft manufacturer called Odaeyang or members of their families. Twenty-seven years later, it is still a mystery whether the people committed suicide or were murdered.

    The owner of the factory, Park Sun-ja, was a defector from the Salvation Sect who set up her own cult, which she also named Odaeyang.

    Park and Yoo were found to have made hundreds of millions of monetary transactions with each other, which led prosecutors to suspect Yoo was connected to the deaths. But no direct link was ever found.

    In August 1991, Yoo was sentenced to four years in jail for “habitual fraud under the mask of religion.” The court said he embezzled almost 120 million won in funds collected by Guwonpa believers for the sect.

    Business cults unique to Korea

    According to Professor Tark, the phenomenon of “new religions pursuing profit through corporate activities” is unique to Korea. That conclusion is based on his comparison of the classification of new religious movements in the United States and Europe over the past 120 years and a similar study of modern Korea by Lee Kang-oh, head of the private Korean New Religion Research Center.

    Tark is one of three sons, all religion experts, of Tark Myung-hwan, a renowned religious researcher who spearheaded a move to combat crazy cults. He was murdered by a religious zealot in 1994. The scope of his research included the Salvation Sect.

    As Korea went through rapid social changes over a relatively short period - from colonialism to war, dictatorship and democracy - traditional religions had trouble keeping up with the chaos and insecurity, and the door was opened to ambitious shysters, according to Lee. They thrived by criticizing existing religions and offering salvation in a quicker or more direct way.

    continued below

  4. Personally they became wealthy because of all the opportunities available in rapidly developing Korea, especially in the real estate market.

    Lee, the research center head and an honorary professor of philosophy at Chonbuk National University, noted in his epic 1992 “Korea’s New Religion Almanac” that 200 of the 390 new religious bodies that came into existence between the 1960s and 1990s were born in the 1980s. He interpreted that as a sign that South Korea’s dictatorship stirred both political tensions and confusions that led to the weakening of traditional religions.

    The messages of the new religions varied according to the spirit of the times, Tark says. “The emerging religions under the [Park Chung Hee] regime in the 1970s stood for anti-Communist,” he said. The theme shifted to salvation through wealth later.

    “Money can guarantee the stability of religious activities and vise versa,” he says.

    These days, members of the Salvation Sect deny that Yoo is their patriarch. But when prosecutors tried searching the sect’s 115-acre compound known as Geumsuwon in Anseong on the outskirts of Seoul, thousands of believers staged a rally for days at the gates, acting as human shields for Yoo. Some proclaimed they were willing to be martyred to protect Yoo.

    Such kind of devotion is hard for ordinary people to understand. The experts say the adherents have devoted everything to the sect, from their personal lives and family ties to their private properties.

    “The moment Yoo is caught and his empire collapses, the followers’ lives will be over,” says the housewife Lim Young-sook. “Many of them have nowhere else to live or any means to feed themselves. They have no choice but to believe.”

    Tark says “depriving believers of everything” is one of many techniques used by cult leaders to maintain their obedience. Devotees have to be robbed of their personal decision-making abilities.

    “You shouldn’t try to approach new religion issues with logic or common sense,” he says. “Cult leaders tend to take control of their followers by depriving them of everything. Believers are robbed of their decision-making ability by manipulative mind control. That’s why violence or any kind of far-from-common-sense action is possible and very dangerous.”

    Tark warns that patriarch Yoo, who is still at large, has been able to maintain close ties with powerful figures in the corporate, political, government and media communities, and also the prosecution.

    A “Yoo Byung-eun list,” which names people who have been photographed with the suspect, has been circulating.

    “There are a lot of beneficiaries of what we may describe as ‘Yoo Byung-eun’ largesse out there and his wide human network is his insurance policy,” Tark says.


  5. The Cults of South Korea

    The recent ferry tragedy has added another chapter to the country’s disconcerting history with cults.

    By John Power, the Diplomat June 17, 2014

    For more than six weeks, an obscure Christian sect widely described as a cult has dominated the news in South Korea. The reason: its alleged connection to aferry sinking in April that killed more than 300 people.

    Yoo Byung-eun, the founder of the Salvation Sect and alleged de facto owner of the ferry’s operating firm, has become the country’s most wanted man, with the authorities offering a $500,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. He and his family stand accused of corruption, poor management and illegal modifications to the ferry Sewol that prosecutors say contributed to its sinking with hundreds of high school students onboard. Despite a massive manhunt across the country, Yoo has continued to elude capture since a court issued a warrant for his arrest on May 22.

    “They (the Salvation Sect) began around the early 1970s. Their doctrine is influenced by the foreign missionaries,” Tark Ji-il, a professor at Busan Presbyterian University and expert on cults in Korea, told The Diplomat. “According to them, they don’t need to repent again and again. We need only one repentance. Right after realization of sin, there is no need to repent again. Because, according to them, righteous man is righteous man, even if they have committed a sin.”

    While Yoo is regarded simply as a church leader by some members, more devoted followers see him as a messianic figure, according to Tark.

    But while the Salvation Sect is currently the focus of national scrutiny, it is just one of many shadowy religious groups operating in South Korea, a country with one of Asia’s largest communities of Christians, divided among an incalculable number of churches. While it is difficult to determine an exact figure, perhaps hundreds of cults exist in Korea, according to Tark. Even without concrete figures, he believes that South Korea is unique among Asian and developing countries for the prevalence of such groups. In his book The Koreans: Who They Are, What They Want, Where Their Future Lies, journalist Michael Breen reported that one church minister in the early 1960s identified some 70 Koreans who claimed to be the messiah and had followers.

    The definition of a cult is not uncontroversial, in Korea and elsewhere, with followers typically rejecting the pejorative term. Timothy Lee, an expert in Evangelicalism in Korea at Brite Divinity School in Texas, said that contemporary historians typically avoid “value judgments on religious phenomena.” He did, however, offer several possible criteria for making the determination.

    “I would say when seeking to determine whether a religious group is a cult or a legitimate church, one has to, among others, consider these three criteria: the freedom with which one can affiliate and disaffiliate with the group, the transparency in its leadership structure, and the group’s attitude toward larger society, with a cult assuming a much more exclusivist and condemnatory attitude toward society.”

    continued below

  6. Certainly Korean fringe churches to have attracted the label have been implicated in fraud, brainwashing, coercion, and other behavior associated with cults worldwide. The most sinister have been linked to criminality as serious as systematic rape and even murder.

    In 1987, 33 members of the cult Odaeyang, of which the current fugitive Yoo was once a member, were found dead in a factory in Yongin, about 50 km south of Seoul. It has never been conclusively determined whether the cult members, whose bodies were found bound and gagged, had been murdered or committed mass suicide. Followers of the group’s leader Park Soon-ja, who was also among the dead, had believed that the world, irretrievably mired in decadence, was coming to an end.

    Busan Presbyterian University professor Tark’s own father was murdered by a member of another cult in 1994.

    In 2009, the leader of a South Korean cult known as Providence or Jesus Morning Star, among other names, was convicted of the rape or sexual assault of four of his female followers.

    In April of this year, a television documentary for Australian broadcaster SBS detailed how the church was continuing to groom women in the country as future “brides” for its head Jeong Myeong-Seok, who is reported to have told his followers that their sins could be cleansed by having sex with him. Two Australian former members of the cult claimed they had been encouraged to write sexually explicit letters to Jeong and were even taken to Seoul to visit him in prison.

    Providence/JMS is also one of several groups based in Korea to have a notable presence abroad. Perhaps no controversial Korean church has had more impact outside of Korea than the Unification Church, commonly referred to as the “Moonies,” which saw modest recruitment in the U.S. during the 1970s. It has faced accusations of brainwashing its members, a claim denied by the church as well as some independent religious scholars.

    What most of Korea’s controversial religious groups have in common is that they can be traced back to one of three periods in the country’s modern history, according to Tark: the Japanese occupation, the Korean War, and the period of military dictatorships that reached the peak of its authoritarianism in the 1970s and 1980s.

    In the case of the former two periods, Tark said, instability and hardship helped popularize religious organizations that offered solace and valorized suffering.

    “Right after 1931, it looked very hard to be saved from the Japanese occupation so they focused on Jesus Christ, who suffered on the cross. So it is a kind of mysticism,” he said.

    During the dictatorship period, meanwhile, many cult leaders could gain a foothold by supporting the government, unlike a lot of the anti-dictatorship mainline Protestant churches, according to Tark.

    continued below

  7. Various opinions exist as to the appeal of Korea’s fringe religious groups.

    Peter Daley, a longtime resident who has researched cults in Korea since 2003 when his roommate became a member of Providence/JSM, said that one reason may be the relative lack of ambiguity in their teachings.

    “With these groups, there’re no shades of grey, everything is absolutely, ‘yes, this guy is the messiah, yes, if you follow him you’ll go to heaven,’” said Daley, who claimed that his website jmscult.com and work with media has seen him threatened by disgruntled followers. “Some people feel that the … more mainstream groups sometimes don’t make these grandiose claims. So when a group comes along with all the answers to ‘a,’ ‘b,’ and ‘c,’ that can be appealing to some people.”

    Peer pressure and the deference toward one’s elders present in Korea society also work to the advantage of cult leaders, he said.

    “Then you get these older Korean guys dressed up in suits; it can be hard for a younger Korean person to question that, especially when a new member is thrust into an environment where there are a lot of current members.”

    Many groups are also highly Korea-centric, basing their beliefs around the idea that the country and Koreans themselves are somehow favored by God or otherwise special.

    “Because they believe the new messiah is a Korean, the new revelation is written in Korean, the new nation (of people) who are going to be saved – 144,000 people – are Koreans, or the kingdom of God will be established in Korea (they can have many loyal Korea followers),” said Tark.

    A cultural aspect of another sort may also be at play, according to Lee, the Brite Divinity School professor.

    “I am not sure whether the number of cult-like organizations in Korea is, proportionally speaking, larger than in, say, Japan or the United States. But compared to Westerners, Koreans tend to be less individualistic and more communal, disposing them to affiliate with some organizations, which will typically assume some familial shape,” he said.

    “And if leaders of such organizations develop a sense of religious calling that is looked askance by the larger society, gather followers around them, and insist on their practicing exclusivism, you have the beginnings of cults.”

    Update: A PR rep for Ahae Press, Inc., which “markets and exhibits the work of the photographer AHAE (Mr. Yoo Byung-eun),” has contacted The Diplomat to deny a number of the assertions made about Yoo in this article, specifically his links to the Sewol and the Odaeyang cult. The Diplomat stands by its reporting. Yoo remains wanted by Korean police.