A manhunt fiascoThe police deployed a total of 1.45 million personnel at various times to hunt down Yoo Byung-eun, the de facto owner of Chonghaejin Marine Company, the operator of the sunken ferry Sewol, a tragedy that cost the nation the lives of over 300 passengers. They utterly failed to find Yoo while he was alive. His body was ultimately found by a local farmer in a plum orchard 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) away from a villa in which Yoo had been hiding. Local police got the corpse but didn’t report it to their superiors despite plentiful clues suggesting the identity of the dead, elderly and well-dressed man.
The police’s botching of the manhunt for Yoo is even more deplorable than the inept response of the coast guard to the fatal sinking of the Sewol on April 16. When Yoo’s eldest son Dae-gyun attempted to depart for Paris at Incheon Airport on April 19, the police didn’t attempt to detect his whereabouts.
Even though the Ansan Police Station acquired an arrest warrant for Dae-gyun on May 12, it didn’t control the entry of people into Geumsuwon, the retreat of the Salvation Sect, which was led by Yoo. If the police had raided the facility or kept a close watch after surrounding it at the time, they could have arrested Yoo. But police officers sat on their hands because “the case was handled by the prosecution.”
The prosecution belatedly raided Yoo’s villa on May 24, but failed to catch him. If they had directed the police to control the area around the villa, it could have led to different results.
The way the police reacted to Yoo’s body when they had it in their possession is more dumbfounding. His personal effects provided good clues to his identity. The windbreaker he wore, for example, was a very expensive Italian brand.
Various conspiracy theories are spreading due to people’s distrust of the government since the Sewol disaster. The authorities must figure out the cause of Yoo’s death and arrest his two sons.
JoongAng Ilbo, July 23, Page 30
Correction and rebuttal statement by the Evangelical Baptist Church
The Korea JoongAng Daily, regarding the reports since April 16, 2014, about the Evangelical Baptist Church (EBC) and Yoo Byung-eun, is publishing the following corrections and an excerpt from the rebuttal statement by the EBC.
Through three past investigations by the prosecution, it has been revealed that Yoo and the EBC, also known as the “Salvation Group” and Guwonpa in Korean, are not related to the Odaeyang mass suicide incident. That was also confirmed by the prosecution in its official statement on May 21. The prosecution’s investigation also found that Yoo had not made an attempt to smuggle himself out of the country or seek political asylum in France. We, therefore, correct the concerned reports.
Yoo retired from his executive management position in 1997. He did not own any shares in the noted companies, nor had he managed operations or used the operating funds for personal reasons. There are no grounds to call him the actual owner and chairman of the company. As such, he did not provide any directives in regards to the overloading of the Sewol ferry or its renovation.
It was verified that the captain and crew members who abandoned ship at the time of the Sewol ferry accident are not members of the EBC. It has also been verified that the EBC does not own any shares of Chonghaejin Marine Company and did not engage in its management.
The EBC’s position is that the museums in the United States and Europe can never authorize an exhibition unless the artistic value of an artist’s works is recognized by the screening committee, irrespective of the amount of money an artist donates. The EBC’s position is that the exhibitions were not a result of Mr. Yoo’s patronage or donation, and Yoo also has not coerced Chonghaejin and its affiliates to purchase his photos.
The EBC states that Yoo did not participate in the foundation of the EBC in 1981, and the church does not offer him the title “pastor.” It also says a significant part of the 240 billion won ($206 million) worth of assets suspected of belonging to the Yoo family are real estate properties owned by the farming associations, which had been established by church members.
The EBC states that there are certain churches in Korea that call the EBC a cult, solely based on differences between their’s and the EBC’s doctrines.
But the EBC does not worship a particular individual as a religious sect leader or preach any doctrine that contradicts the Bible.