Korean cult in trouble – asks followers for 6billion won
Salvation Sect raises funds for fugitive Yoo (after Sewol ferry disaster)
Korea Times 2014-07-15
By Lee Hyo-sik
The religious cult led by the nation’s most wanted fugitive, Yoo Byung-eun, is reportedly asking its followers to donate 6 billion won ($5.9 million) in cash to protect its headquarters from the authorities. But many analysts say the real intent behind the Salvation Sect’s fundraising is to finance Yoo’s continued flight from the prosecution.
According to a relative of a Salvation Sect follower who recently appeared on a TV program, the cult is encouraging its members to donate money to defend Geumsuwon, the religious sect’s stronghold in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province, from the government. The compound was raided twice by investigators seeking to arrest Yoo and those aiding his escape from the prosecution.
The individual said that the Salvation Sect has recently launched a nationwide fund-raising campaign to collect at least 6 billion won, the third of its kind since April 16 when the ferry Sewol sank off the southwestern coast.
The cult first collected 500 million won from its members purportedly to investigate the cause of the Sewol ferry sinking. It then raised 3 billion won, saying it needs large sums of money to effectively defend the owner of the sunken ship in court.
According to a voice file acquired by a local media outlet, Cho Seung-ik, the general affairs manager of the Salvation Sect, reportedly told hundreds of followers last week that they should actively take part in the fundraising in order to protect Geumsuwon from the government. Cho allegedly said that the cult is in crisis and that its members must donate at least 6 billion won by July 20.
However, analysts suspect that the collection of the money is to provide cash to Yoo and his eldest son Dae-gyun who have been on the run for more than two months.
In addition, the Salvation Sect is reportedly attempting to brainwash its followers by saying that Yoo has been falsely accused of crimes. The former Semo Group chairman is suspected of embezzlement, tax evasion and other irregularities that could have been contributory to the ferry disaster.
Yoo and his eldest son Dae-gyun have remained elusive for two months, despite a massive manhunt by the prosecution. The two Yoos have reportedly been offered a safe house and means of transportation by sect followers across the country. Yoo even reportedly sought political asylum at a number of foreign embassies.
Sects, money and tragedy have history in Korea
S. Korea Police Raid Church in Ferry Owner Search
The Cults of South Korea
The recent ferry tragedy has added another chapter to the country’s disconcerting history with cults.