More deaths are tied to religious cult

JoonAng Daily/August 16, 2003
By Chung Chan-min, Eum Tae-min

The Suwon District Public Prosecutors Office, which is investigating a religious cult's alleged murder of its members, yesterday said several more members appear to have been killed and buried secretly. The prosecution has secured a list of the names of those who were allegedly murdered, sources there said.

On Thursday, the bodies of two of the cult's members were unearthed at a mountain in Gyeonggi province. According to the prosecution's investigation, they were killed and buried by fellow members of the cult, which is known as the Yeong Saeng, or "eternal life"

The church, which was founded in 1981, has been considered a cult. It was founded by a man who claimed he became "almighty" after he won a battle with Satan in 1980. The prosecution said he called himself the Messiah. The church has claimed that its followers will not die.

In 1994, dozens of people who said they had not heard from family members who belonged to the cult claimed that four of its members had died mysteriously and 17 were missing. They said the missing or dead must have been killed by the cult.

Analysts said yesterday that bodies uncovered Thursday may be two of the four persons who were listed as dead or were among the 17 missing.

The prosecution yesterday said it will request detention warrants for two murder suspects, whom it identified only as Mr. Kim and Mr. Jeong. It said it secured statements from them that they killed and buried the two men, who were exhumed Thursday, upon the direction of the cult¡'s founder, identified only as Mr. Cho. The prosecution also said it secured statements from Mr. Kim and Mr. Jeong that they had killed and buried seven more members of the cult. The prosecution said it will exhume the bodies next week.

More than 50 members of the church yesterday visited the Suwon District Public Prosecutors Office. They said, "Mr. Kim and Mr. Jeong committed the murders on their own and are now saying the crime was directed by the cult's founder, Mr. Cho."

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