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Cult boss extradited to face sex raps

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Feb 21,2008
Cult boss extradited
A Korean cult leader charged with sexually abusing his female followers and embezzling the religious group’s money was extradited from China yesterday, nine years after he fled the country.
Jung Myung-seok, the 63-year-old founder of Jesus Morning Star, or JMS, arrived at Incheon International Airport at 5 p.m. yesterday from Dalian, China. A crowd of about 1,000 gathered at the airport, consisting of Jung’s followers and members of anti-JMS groups.
Jung was taken directly to the Seoul Central Public Prosecutors’ Office from the airport. Prosecutors began questioning Jung after his arrival regarding nine complaints filed against him on charges that include embezzlement and sexual assault.
After learning that Jung had escaped to China in November 2006, South Korea officially requested China to arrest and extradite him under a bilateral treaty. Jung was caught in Beijing on May 1, 2007 and Chinese authorities approved the extradition on Jan. 7.
As the Dong-A Ilbo newspaper reported that Jung would be extradited here, about 40 JMS followers broke into the Dong-A Ilbo building in central Seoul on Jan. 14, throwing chairs in the newsroom and demanding that the newspaper apologize for publishing the article.
The JMS followers claimed that Jung was investigated by police several times in 1999, 2000 and 2001 and left the country after charges against him were dropped.
According to police, Jung had been on the run in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, China and other countries since 1999 after the Korean media reported allegations that he raped followers and embezzled the religious group’s funds.
In 1999, SBS aired an investigative report about the sexual abuse allegations. After a series of such reports, Jung fled overseas, but accusations of sexual abuse also surfaced in other countries as he continued to set up branches of his cult abroad. In 2001, he was investigated by Taiwanese authorities on rape charges, causing him to flee the territory.
In 2003, he was arrested in Hong Kong for staying there illegally, but released on bail. The same year, Interpol, the international police organization, included him on a list of fraud and sexual crime suspects.


By Jeong Hyo-sik JoongAng Ilbo/ Kim Soe-jung Staff Reporter [soejung@joongang.co.kr]

By Jeong Hyo-sik JoongAng Ilbo/ Kim Soe-jung Staff Reporter



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