Sewol ferry patriarch Yoo Byung-eun found dead

Home > National > Politics

print dictionary print

Sewol ferry patriarch Yoo Byung-eun found dead

Yoo Byung-eun, the de facto owner of the operator of the doomed Sewol ferry, was found dead on a farm in Suncheon, South Jeolla, police confirmed this morning.

Police said at an emergency briefing that the state-run National Forensic Service notified them that DNA samples from Yoo matched those from the body found in Suncheon.

A fingerprint taken from the body’s right index finger was also confirmed to be that of Yoo, police added.

The body was discovered on July 12 by local police 2.5 kilometers (1.55 miles) from a private
vacation house owned by Yoo. When it was discovered, the body was lying on its back, wearing a winter jacket and a hat. The exact date of the death has not been confirmed, police said. The body was too decayed to be identified when it was found.

YTN cable news channel reported Tuesday that Yoo’s head was separated from the rest of his body.

The extraordinarily belated discovery of Yoo’s remains is guaranteed to put pressure on President Park Geun-hye, who had promised a national “overhaul” to get beyond the corruption, collusion and incompetence that were considered major contributors to the April 16 sinking of the Sewol, which killed more than 300 people, mostly 11th graders on a school trip.

Although Yoo was the nation’s most wanted fugitive, with 1.3 million policemen mobilized in his manhunt and an unprecedented 500 million won ($486,500) reward offered for information about him, his body lay in a field just 2.5 km from his villa for enough time for most of its flesh to be eaten by animals or rot away.

Almost six weeks went by between the remains being found by local police and his identity being confirmed.

The ruling Saenuri Party and opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy are bitterly disputing a new law to set up a special fact-finding committee to investigate the root causes of the Sewol tragedy, with both the opposition party and relatives of the victims in the tragedy demanding that the probe have the ability to indict. The Saenuri Party has said that power should be restricted to prosecutors, who now stand accused of bungling the hunt for Yoo.

By Kim Hee-jin []

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.

Rebuttal statement

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.

Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
lock icon

To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)