Seoul: Former JMS cult members tell their stories
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Seoul: Former JMS cult members tell their stories

Original article in Korean is at this link. This translation is a request from reader Peter Daley, who runs a website on the JMS cult.

Jeong Myeong-seok, the cult leader currently imprisoned for sexually assaulting a female member of the cult, is now accused of having ordered acts of terror against former cult members who have fled overseas. Former members who directly participated in acts of terror held a whistle-blowing press conference on the 28th of March.

The group included Min Jong-woon, who joined the cult while in high school and spent the next 20 years believing Jeong Myeong-seok to be the Second Coming of Jesus.

Mr. Min was serving as an aid to Mr. Jeong, who in 2003 fled the country over sexual assault accusations, when he committed an act of terror against “K”, who had been conducted anti-JMS activities.

Mr. Min, who at the time was a clergyman in the church, was conflicted about the crimes against former cult members but carried them out after being contacted directly by Jeong Myeong-seok.

Mr. Min said at the press conference that “I believed what Jeong Myeong-seok said, and I committed terrorism against Kim for acting against him, and believed it to be the road to truth and to heaven.”

Over the past nine years Mr. Min lived in hiding and had a change of heart which led him to expose these events. At the press conference he was taken away by police to aid their investigation of a 2003 assault.

Others who were leading figures in the JMS cult over the past 20 years spoke of other crimes committed by the cult.

The former members spoke of their regret that they had believed Jeong Myeong-seok to have been the Second Coming and that they could be redeemed through his physical love.

Kim Gyeong-cheon, a former vice-chairman in the cult, said that “we were all under the delusion that we were in an historic moment through the Lord, that we were to be his loyal brothers and children. Everybody was led by him, lectured by him, overseen by him, and I regret so deeply that the abyss of death was brought closer.”

There were also statements from the “evergreen trees” who were sexually assaulted by Mr. Jeong.

One former member who was a victim of his sex crimes said that “there were over 1,000 evergreen trees, and even from prison he managed them, including minors.”

While in prison Jeong Myeong-seok received photos of the women wearing bikinis, and apparently received letters from them as well.

Jo Gyeong-suk, former head of the cult’s Seoul branch, said that “not a few of those women committed suicide. They become severely depressed and receive psychiatric treatment, suffer various illnesses and social phobias as a result of the stress, and are unable to marry.”

Kim Jin-ho, former director of the cult and now representative of the group No JMS (JMS 피해대책협의회), said that “there are currently at least 10 women being managed as evergreen trees… I will bring these accusations to prosecutors to aid the investigation of him for sex crimes.”

Relatedly, a Korean association against Christian cults (한국기독교이단상담소협회) issued a statement calling for “a full investigation of Jeong Myeong-seok and others who ordered acts of terror and committed sex crimes.”