Jan 8, 2018

Convicted rapist church leader Jeong Myeong-seok soon to be released

Jeong Myeong-Seok, the leader of the secretive Korean church known as 'JMS' and 'Providence' - as portrayed on the Church's website
Self-proclaimed messiah Jeong Myeong-seok, the leader of religious group 'Providence' is due to be released in February 2018 and it is believed that foreigners visiting the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang could be a recruiting target of the cult organisation.

Leah NA
SBSJanuary 8, 2018

Campaigners have voiced growing concerns about Korean "cult" leader Jeong Myeong-seok, due to be released on parole in February 2018.

Jeong, a leader of the religious group' Providence' - also known as Jesus Morning Star (JMS) is a self-proclaimed messiah and a convicted rapist.
JMS, a 'cult' led by a convicted rapist

Jeong is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for the rape and sexual assault of five women across several Asian countries. The victims were his followers and were told they could be purified by becoming Jeong’s "spiritual brides" and having sex with him.

The JMS organisation has claimed there are 300 affiliated churches and more than 100,000 followers in Korea. It also claims that there are over 10,000 believers around the world and it operates in a number of other countries including Australia, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Taiwan and Japan.

Providence was set up in Australia in 1997 and has founded branches in major cities including Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra.

Recruiters are especially active in university campuses and shopping centres, often luring young females by offering them modelling or dancing opportunities, bible study classes or even sports groups.

"The main beliefs of the group are that Jeong is the new Messiah," former Australian church member Liz told SBS The Feed in 2014.

"They said that we are in the position of brides towards God.

"And that were also in the position of brides to Jeong, the leader, as he represents God."
Anti-JMS activist Peter Daley warns "Beware of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics."

Australian Peter Daley is a lecturer in Korea and has been running an anti-JMS website called jmscult.com nearly for 15 years.

The website provides all the English information about how JMS operates and how it indoctrinates people.

Daley witnessed the group's first-hand when he taught English in the Korean county of Geumsan in 2002 and claims they are a cult.

He found that very little information was available in English at that time and that spurred him to follow the issue over a decade.

His journey has not been easy. As reported on by regional Korean news outlet Modern Religion Monthly, and detailed in an interview with Vice Daley has been taken to court by JMS and complains of alleged ongoing harassment, but it didn’t stop him from running the anti-JMS website.

Speaking to SBS Korean Mr Daley warns that Providence will become more be active once Jeong is released next month as it is a huge moment for his followers, who consider him as a god.

“Jeong’s release coincides with the Pyeong Chang Winter Olympics and the organisation traditionally uses big events as a recruitment opportunity, as lots of foreigners come to Korea," he says.

He says it is possible that the church will run a "front" group under the guise of introducing foreign visitors to Korean culture or music and eventually lure them to their church - as he says previously occurred during the 2002 World Cup period.

"In 2002 during the World Cup, they have a few events and 'front' groups," he says.

"They had one group called 'Smile Korea' which just kind of they greeted visitors and try to introduce them to cultural events, music events and sporting activities - that was the first point of entry into the group."

Mr Daley warns people to be cautious "if a group starts as a non-religious setting, then eventually changes to a religious study."

He also says that as well as luring new members in, this tactic serves another purpose.

"It also keeps members busy," says Daley. "Recruitment is one of the goals, but these activities also keep members extremely busy."

"Keeping members keep busy and sleep-deprived is kind of core management style of the group."

Issuing a warning to unsuspecting visitors, Mr Daley says, "If a bible group discloses its name and tells you about its leader, but tells you to keep it as a secret from your family and friends, then you should be careful - because that’s how JMS works."
Activist calls for foreign travel ban against Jeong

Jay Kim in Korea has been an anti-JMS activist for the past 20 years. He was not a former believer himself but says he has witnessed quite a few victims and has a strong belief that Jeong won’t stop running the cult even after his prison term, because the organisation's followers still believe that Jeong is innocent.

"I have met many people," says Kim. "Including 17 victims who were actually raped."

"I also talked to three or four foreign victims - like those who were featured in the Feed's episode - including former believers and their families."

"I think I have met hundreds of people - I couldn't believe their stories at first, but later I realised that these unbelievable stories were something really happened.

"Now I have been working on it for 20 years."

As to what can be done about to regulate the group, Lee says "as this is a matter of freedom of religion there are not many things what the law enforcement can do."

He suggests that if the South Korean government were to forbid Jeong from leaving the county, that would be helpful to prevent future victims.

“There are victims in US like Australia," says Lee. "I wish these victims work together and bring Jeong Myeong-seok to justice but if it is not possible I think we should stop him leaving from Korea at least.

"I think South Korea should ban his travel to overseas to prevent this occurring to other victims."
Australian believers’ father shares his loss

There have been a series of media reports about Australian female victims. Most recently ABC’s current affair program 7:30 reported on an Australian father and the recruitment of his daughter to the secretive Korean religious cult.

Gerry Wagemans told the ABC’s 7.30 that his only daughter, Camilla, was approached by recruiters of the Providence while she was a law student at the Australian National University in Canberra.

Mr Wageman said his family only has a very limited communication with his daughter.

“I’m told that she will come out, eventually. I hope it will be in my lifetime,” he said.

As per the 2014 story by The Feed, the group says it has nothing to hide and that it is just like any other religious group. They say their leader is not a messiah and that the church is not a cult.
Listen SBS Korean's full story (in Korean) via podcast in the audio player above.


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