Cult mass murder, death of pro-Japanese poet

JoongAng Daily/August 29, 2005

A hideous incident occurred on this date after several local newspapers ran series of stories alleging a pseudo religion might be stealing money from its believers.

Thirty-two adult bodies were found dead inside the garret of a small crafts factory run by the religious group, Odaeyang.

About 100 bottles of sleeping pills were found lying near the bodies, some of which had scratches on their necks as though they had been strangled.

After a week-long investigation, police announced the deceased were members of Odaeyang and included the religious leader and her two sons.

The religious head, Park Sun-ja, was one of 29 people who had been locked up in the garret for four days without food or water, police said.

Her sons, 22 and 24 years old, and a 45-year-old factory head, had then killed the others one by one, before hanging themselves.

Police concluded that the case was a group suicide by a cult.

The public, however, was not satisfied with the police explanations.

Some pointed to the weak nature of the floor and that the garret was too small for 30 people to have stayed in for 4 days.

They said the floor was made of thin plywood and that the room was only 13 square meters (142 square feet) wide.

The bodies were also found in piles of two or three, proving they could not have slept there, people said.

In 1991, a forensic medicines doctor claimed the incident had been a homicide. There were also suspicions that the group was connected with a senior government official.

Later, former Odaeyang believers went to the police to testify there were others that had been killed and secretly buried earlier by what they believed was another in the group, for breaking an internal rule.

Prosecutors reopened the investigation in 1991, with little change in the result. They decided an internal fight within the cult must have led to the killings.

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