Yoo’s followers hold a two-day funeral ceremony

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Yoo’s followers hold a two-day funeral ceremony

A funeral ceremony for Yoo Byung-eun, the late patriarch of the family behind the doomed Sewol ferry, was conducted over the weekend at his religious retreat, attracting some 4,000 mourners who largely consisted of adherents to the sect he co-founded decades ago.

Believers from the Evangelical Baptist Church, also known as the Salvation Sect, strictly banned reporters and outsiders from attending the two-day service, which started Saturday at Geumsuwon in Anseong, Gyeonggi. A highway leading to the retreat saw heavy traffic yesterday morning, with private vehicles and rented buses lining up to make their way into the compound.

Since the beginning of the massive manhunt for the 73-year-old business mogul to his abrupt death nearly three months ago, Yoo captured the nation’s attention in part because of the expanse of his repertoire, which included work as a photographer, a religious leader and an entrepreneur.

A funeral portrait featuring Yoo holding a camera and video footage of the deceased was aired throughout the ceremony, according to photographs adherents handed out to the press.

Allegations surrounding Yoo’s misconduct in managing his businesses, which included the Chonghaejin Marine Company, the Sewol ferry’s operator, fueled criticism and further investigation into the family following the ship’s sinking in April.

Yoo and his two sons, as well as a daughter, were accused of various financial irregularities involving tax embezzlement, the misappropriation of corporate funds and illicit currency trading.

A host of adherents to the Evangelical Baptist Church packed the religious compound early yesterday morning to attend a church service remembering Yoo. A funeral procession followed the ceremony. Yoo’s coffin will be buried at Mount Chungryang near Geumsuwon, where Kwon Shin-chan, his father-in-law and the co-founder of the sect, is also buried.

Also present at the ceremony was his eldest son, Yoo Dae-gyun, who was temporarily released from Incheon Detention Center. Kwon Yun-ja, the wife of the deceased, was also discharged to attend the ceremony. Ninety police officers were deployed to guard and monitor Yoo Dae-gyun, while another 400 barricaded the compound to prevent potential clashes.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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