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Posted : 2008-02-21 18:01
Updated : 2008-02-21 18:01

Cult Leader Extradited to Korea


Jung Myung-seok
By Bae Ji-sook
Staff Reporter

Jung Myung-seok, the religious cult leader of the group JMS, which is named after his initials, who is charged with embezzlement and sexually abusing his followers, was extradited to Seoul Wednesday night, ending nine years of exile overseas.

Chinese Police, who caught him last May, handed the alleged sex offender over to the Korean government at Incheon International Airport. He was taken to the Seoul Correction Bureau.

He'd been on Korean wanted lists since 1999 (and the Interpol Red Notice since 2004) after fleeing the country after charges of rape emerged. While overseas, he made constant headlines for allegedly raping female devotees in various countries.

He now faces investigation. Chinese police initially arrested him for raping Chinese women and there was news that Japanese and Taiwanese women are among the list of victims. Aside from the Supreme Court's rape charge in January, he is involved in eight other embezzlement, sexual assault or fraud allegations.

Investigating and charging the leader of more than 200,000 believers worldwide may not be easy. There are constant petitions presented to the judicial body asking for pardons.

People holding signs claiming Jung's innocence are often found in front of prosecutors' offices and courts. On Wednesday, more than 1,000 JMS members waited to see their leader.

Moreover, there are people reportedly willing to cover-up Jung's whereabouts and crimes. Last year, the National Information Service sacked a staff member for allegedly looking into immigration records of anti-JMS activists and handing it over to the church.

Weekly Sisa Journal reported in 2006 that there are many JMS devotees in the military, police and prosecution and that some of them have allegedly assisted Jung in evading police and covering up his wrongdoings. They interfered with investigations and international efforts to track down the sex offenders' whereabouts, it said.

JMS was established in the early 1980's, named after Jung Myung-seok's initials. He alleges Jesus failed in his role as Savior and that the doctrine of resurrection is false. But the spiritual one works, he says, through him, the self-alleged living messiah.

bjs@koreatimes.co.kr

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