Doomsday Cult Leaders Get Prison In Fraud

Chicago Tribune, July 12, 2000

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA A South Korean court Tuesday sentenced two leaders of a doomsday cult to 10 years in prison each on charges of swindling followers out of millions of dollars.

Mo Haeng Ryong, 66, founder and head of the indigenous Chunjonhoe, or Heaven's Gathering, and his wife, Park Kui Dal, 52, were found guilty of fraud in Seoul District Criminal Court.

A dozen other cult leaders were given prison terms of up to six years on the same charges.

The cult, which incorporates Confucianism elements, urged followers to donate all their money, saying the world would end Feb. 19 when it lost all its spiritual energy, prosecutors said. With doomsday approaching, cult leaders were preparing to flee the country with much of the money, prosecutors said.

The total amount of money scammed by the cult is estimated at $35 million. Some of the money went to building the shrine and operating the cult's three businesses.

The cult claims 150,000 members.

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