Founder of cult captured in China after eight years
A Korean cult leader wanted by Interpol for sexually abusing female followers was captured by Chinese authorities earlier this month, the Ministry of Justice in South Korea said yesterday.
Jung Myung-seok, 62, founder of the religion Jesus Morning Star, or JMS, has been on the run since 1999 after Korean media reported allegations he had raped followers and embezzled the religious group’s funds. Jung founded the movement, also known as Providence, Christian Gospel Mission, Setsuri and other names in other countries, around 1980.
According to the ministry, a man suspected of being Jung was arrested in Beijing on May 1. Through his fingerprints, Jung was officially identified on Tuesday, the ministry said in the release.
Chinese authorities have been questioning Jung for crimes he allegedly committed in China, which have not been announced, separately from the charges he faces in other countries, the ministry said.
“Because Chinese authorities have the priority to investigate Jung’s crimes committed in China, the extradition could be delayed,” said Hwang Cheol-gyu, an official with the ministry’s international criminal investigation department. “We will be able to begin the investigation and trial before the end of this year, at the earliest, after the extradition.”
After learning that Jung had fled to China, the South Korean government officially asked China in November of last year to extradite him under the bilateral treaty.
In 1999, SBS aired an investigative report about the sexual abuse allegations against Jung. After a series of media reports, Jung fled overseas, but accusations of sexual abuse surfaced in other countries. In 2001, he was investigated by Taiwanese authorities for raping women in Taiwan. Jung then fled to other countries.
In 2003, he was arrested in Hong Kong for illegally staying there, but released on bail. In the same year, Interpol, the international criminal police organization, included him on its “Red Notices” list for multiple counts of fraud, sexual crimes and embezzlement.
By Ser Myo-ja Staff Writer [firstname.lastname@example.org]