Pastors at Somang Church get into Sunday brawl

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Pastors at Somang Church get into Sunday brawl

Two ministers connected with the Somang Presbyterian Church - where President Lee Myung-bak serves as an elder - have been accused of beating the head pastor on Sunday, police said.

The two ministers, 60-year-old Cho and 52-year-old Choe, said they had gone to the church in Sinsa-dong, Seoul, at 8:45 a.m. to complain to the head pastor, Kim Ji-chul, about being excluded from taking part in services.

During an ensuing altercation, Kim’s cheekbone was broken and he was later hospitalized.

Choe and Cho claim it was Kim who attacked first. “When we entered his office, Kim tried to avoid us, so Choe grabbed him to talk,” Cho said. “But suddenly Kim choked Choe’s neck by pulling his tie, and the two of us tried to release it.”

The two said they then got into a brawl before a senior pastor broke open the locked door and intervened.

Police, who responded to the altercation at 9:45 a.m., are investigating the incident. The two suspects, who were arrested, also were hospitalized after saying they were injured.

According to police, Choe was dismissed from his post as associate pastor last year and Cho has been struggling to participate in church services. The 61-year-old Kim started his post at the church in 2003.

An official at the church said that there are “two political forces” at play at Somang Church - one backing Kim and the other backing former head pastor Gwak Seon-hui.

“Choe and Cho are on the side of the former head and I think that is the reason why they fell behind in the church,” the official said.


By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr ]

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