유병언, 유대균 of Sewol Ferry group, about to be made into “public enemy no.1″

The founder/owner of the Sewol ferry group, 유병언 and his eldest son, 유대균 as well as his close family members are wanted by the police and the prosecutors. These two are known to be hiding somewhere in Korea, and the police have placed a watch to prevent them from secretly leaving the country, and asked for 유병언 to present himself to the police by 16th (tomorrow) otherwise, be turned into the public enemy no.1. There is already a reward/promotion prospect for the police who can capture his son. One place either one of them could be hiding out is suspected to be 금수원 a kind of headquarter for these 구원파 (official name 기독교복음침례회) cult/religious sect.

There is currently a stand-off between these religious followers outside the 금수원 – they are decrying “religious persecution (!?!?)” and 유대균 has apparently told somebody “Our family has already an experience of a flat out *war*”, probably referring to an incident in 1987 where his father, as a member of a cult 오대양, was sent to jail after mass-suicides of the cult followers.

His other close relatives 김혜경 and 김필배 who used ESTA (electronic visa for visa waiver countries) to leave for the US on the 20th of last month, a few days after the Sewol ferry went down, might become classified as illegal stayers, as the Korean police wanting them can revoke their ESTA visa.

Finally, 유병언’s connection to high society and the powerful was highlighted in a recent JTBC news clip where he is acknowledging many important society people who came to his photo-book launch party. The guests he singles out include the US ambassador to S.Korea Sung Kim, and also the Israeli ambassador.

There is a saying in Korea 개독교 – a derogatory way of referring 기독교.

My grandfather was probably one of these people who referred to the Korean *evangelical Christianity* as 개독교.
I have little connection/experience to even begin to clearly distinguish what is a *cult* from a *branch of a Korean Evangelical church, but based on what I know, one of the biggest ills of the Korean society which has come to light in this disaster is the power and the community that belongs to these evangelical Christian bodies/sects, just another shell covering the typical Korean structural hierarchy. And I have definitely seen them thrive outside of Korea as well. I remember my mother once pointed out in awe/disgust that in the local Korean phone book she found there were more than 50 churches(or something like that) just starting with “Korean Washington..”

  • JW

    “I have little connection/experience to even begin to clearly distinguish what is a *cult* from a *branch of a Korean Evangelical church”

    It’s very easy to distinguish what a cult is, in this case. One is associated with mass suicide and the other is not. I guess you can then argue non-cults are associated murder and persecution and intolerance, but I’ve yet to come across any legitimate data that shows a higher likelihood of that happening inside religion as opposed to out.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    I like your comment.
    How about mass weddings?

    Just got off the phone with my mother, she says she’s been watching the news like drama on this and added “do not mess with these people, they’re scary”..

    Sigh, Sigh.

  • JW

    Mass weddings? Probably not. If by mass wedding I could have shaved my own wedding cost by 90 percent for example…I’d be tempted regardless of my religious proclivities. :-)

  • http://www.san-shin.org Sanshinseon .

    easy — if they take the religious doctrines really seriously, it’s a cult. if they ignore the doctrines & teachings but are just using membership to gain social influence over others and advantages for themselves, it’ s a normal mainstream religion 😉

  • ChuckRamone

    A cult is simply one where the leader has total power. A regular evangelical church is led by an uncharismatic wannabe. Both suck.

  • JW

    I agree with your mother. The government should not take the threats of these crazies lightly or we’ll have another disaster on our hands very soon.

  • RElgin

    A cult focuses upon a living person and his/her doctrine, whereas a religion focuses upon ideas and their impact upon one’s life.

    There are still problems with religions however, for example, Christians that focus upon the death of Jesus and sin as opposed to his teachings; that is histrionic and not positive. The use of doctrine as a kind of litmus test is also one problem of some organized religion. The restrictive control of a church by a select few or leader can quickly become something ungodly as well.

  • bigmamat

    Ha this is really a little funny. I keep saying about this whole tragedy….Welcome to America….now we have freedom of religion involved, even if it means your right to skirt the line of secular law or engage in other forms of douchebaggery unmolested by the government….nice play. There is one real difference I wish Koreans would recognize…in the U.S. there is a good chance no criminal charges would ever be filed against these people.

  • MikeinGyeonggi

    By this definition, Scientology wouldn’t be considered a cult, since L. Ron Hubbard is dead.

  • Aja Aja

    That could happen in Korea also. In 1987, with the mass suicide of his followers, he was never arrested. Forward the clock 27 years later and the prosecutors who went to his church to get him, retreated, after the church members put up a stiff resistance citing “Freedom of Religion is being attacked”. I hear that they’re planning to report the Korean government for violating freedom of religion to Amnesty International, who I’m sure will also see this as freedom of religion issue. So now the plot thickens with more scratching and clawing with more parties to come.

  • Sumo294

    Very well RElgin–you taught me something today. It is about good as a definition we are going to get. Religion is about principles and cults are about control.

  • bigmamat

    If Amnesty International is to have any credibility they will not take up this cause. I’d be little surprised if they do but then nothing ever completely gives me a shock.

  • bigmamat

    I suppose she isn’t Catholic….or Southern Baptist….

  • Seoulgoodman

    Gee, I don’t know. Is it a religion?


  • Koreandumbdumb

    You are right about many things. Christians have hope that there is a life after death and we want to go there. However, nobody and no church can guarantee that. Only Jesus will judge each one. Bible is full of stories and warnings about pretenders. They will go to Hell because they cannot enter Heaven. We do not die. Our souls cannot disappear into nothingness. It continues after death. This is what Jesus said.

    In any case, a cult and the real church is easy to tell. Is there a cross in their meeting hall? Do they pray in Jesus name? Most cults do not.

  • Koreandumbdumb

    Why there are so many denominations? Because people think slightly different about several topics. Thank God that He gives us choices. Once you become one body, like Catholics, then it starts to rot. God wants new denominations that can present HIs message in new emphasis. Yet Bible is one. All four major denominations, Presbyterian, Baptists, Methodists and Assembly of God and even Catholics believe the same about Jesus and Bible. 99% synchronicity. 1% are child baptism, sprinkling and dunking, the right of Pope, pre-destination, holy spirit etc. But even in different denominations,people are allowed to think freely. Just remember 99% is the same. The final authority is the Bible. For over 2000 years, Christians have believed and is believing and will believe Jesus in the Bible.

  • Aja Aja

    My prediction? There will be a massive criticism of the prosecutors trying to avert negative attention away from the government and the president.

    The Korean Teacher’s Union which often opposes the government, have identified that the murderers are the maritime police and the president herself. Over ten thousand teachers attend protest rally condemning their boss, the government for the murders.


    So far this guy has escaped public scrutiny compared relatively to others. But his business dealings show him to be a massive fraudster. He borrowed millions from banks, laundered and funnelled unbelievable amount of profits to his hidden bank accounts, never paid a dime in taxes, declared massive losses, declared bankruptcies, closed the bankrupt companies, then repeat and rinse all over again. How he kept on managing to keep on borrowing to start up new companies, without paying back any of the money, is unknown. But surely somebody’s hands were greased.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    For a long time, I had Christian faith. However, like I predicted at the time (either my faith would ebb away gradually like condensation clearing off a window or by a terrible thing happen to me which would turn me away) I don’t anymore. It was the former.

    I think coming across many persistent evangelical people who tried to convince people about the rightness of their own religion (I’ve come across many that would even place Catholicism as Satanic cult) probably did it. If I’d just continued to be in a room occasionally reading the bible, like I had been doing, that might have prolonged it.

    Also, in Korea/Korean churches, it’s not just about the branches of the religion. It’s actually downright “which church you go to”.
    There are many similarities between organized crime in Korea and churches in their petty power skirmishes.
    In fact a very famous reverend of the most famous church in Korea 여의도순복음 ‘s 조용기 is little more than the boss of a 깡패 집단.


    Look at this guy, surrounded by his church members, protecting him like gang members, as he leaves the court where he was done for enormous amount of tax evasion.

  • wangkon936

    All this vilification without a fair trial is bothering my American sense of fairness.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    Anyway, I would not say based on this

    and your definition, that 구원파 (Salvation Sect) is a cult at all. It seems their interpretation of what “salvation through Jesus’s bleeding on the cross” is interpreted slightly different from the convention, although I also thought that through believing in Jesus’s death = salvation, that is pretty much the crux of standard Christianity.

    Also, the sect members themselves are really sensitive about being connected to the 오대양 mass suicides, saying that the members who committed suicide were ex-members of their church, and they had no real connection/influence with that event.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    Yeah exactly.
    Some people think that the concentration on these two are a strategy to divert the attention away from other things.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    As much as I don’t like candle zombies, I also consider Richard Dawkins’s approach to atheism a religion of some sort.
    Your defending of the president alone is coming across like that to me.

  • RElgin

    Scientology focuses upon following their leadership, right?

  • RElgin

    The KTU is badly managed thus I don’t think many people would give them credibility. Using this occasion to grind a political axe will only cost them.

  • bigmamat

    I guess we’ll just have to sit back and watch it unfold.

  • Koreandumbdumb

    I am sorry to hear that you lost your faith. But I suspect you have never had it. The true believers receive Holy Spirit. He is the third person of the Trinity. Jesus said “A person like me will come and He will tell you all about me”. On the day of Pentecost, Jesus’ disciples received this indwelling Spirit. The same Spirit is working throughout the earth to give faith to millions and it testify of Jesus, coming judgment and glorious Heaven. Don’t look at other so-called Christians. Just read Bible and pray “Jesus, I want to know you”. He will show up. He did for me.

  • flyingsword

    a business being disguised as a religion….storm the compound, arrest them all.

  • Tapp

    A real chance? They might even get a bailout because of the other company’s affected by their mistakes. Depends on whose friends are currently in office, I suppose.

  • TopHatandTails

    Quite a lot of different flavors of bullshit really isn’t it. You said it yourself, humans change god’s words (if there ever was really such thing) into what they want at the time to suit their own needs.

  • Sumo294

    Wondering when the KTU was going to join the commie block party. It aint a party till the KTU show up.

  • Aja Aja

    The four crew member were arrested and charged with murder. There’s evidence that they conspired to abandon the ship, leaving the passengers, so that they can get on the rescue boats first. They already knew that none of the lifeboats were working. They had lied to the Jindo coast guard tower that none of the people on the ship could move. Yet three of the crew had enough time to go back to their quarters to take off their uniforms, so that they would look like civilians. They ignored the coast guard tower’s orders to evacuate the ship. They told the passengers to stay where they are, repeatedly, while the captain quietly told the crew to prepare for evacuation for the crew only. The last order they gave to the heroine Park Jee Young (the ship’s stewardess) through radio, was to stay where they are. They abandoned ship when the rescuers arrived. Stewardess Park Jee Young radioed back last time, asking for instructions again, but no-one replied. By then the crew were gone. One of the crew members charged, admitted to the prosecutors that all the crew were thinking about was to stay alive, and did not think about the passengers at all.

    I also hope they start making arrests on others now, the people who are higher up in the food chain.

  • TopHatandTails

    When are they going to starting going after the corrupt officials who allowed this to happen? In a way I feel sorry for the under trained and incompetent crew members. They shouldn’t have even been on the ferry. Why were they? Who allowed the thing to even sail? The Korean media seen to be going after the results of the problem rather than the cause.

  • http://jushinjok.blogspot.com JinJoo

    “How he kept on managing to keep on borrowing to start up new companies, without paying back any of the money, is unknown……”

    Apparently KDJ administration made it all possible.


    Semo (the company owned by 유병언) went into receivership in 1999, but, mysteriously, half of the company debt was written off, had no problem getting huge bank loan again, obtained exclusive right for Inchion-Jeju 운항. Basically KDJ administration provided enormous benefits to Yu.


    Who are the proposers? Left wing politicians including 김홍업, KDJ’s son.


    According to the video clip, Yu Beong Eun was one of the
    core members who orchestrated the 2008 candlelight protest against U.S. beef. He, also, was the one who came up
    with the idea of 유모차 부대 (Police had hard time suppressing the protest because of 유모차 부대 who were in the vanguard. Yu instructed his people to make sure the photos were taken from the angle that made police look very negative and provided these photos to the press. I won’t be surprised if Yu is the one who is providing money to Missy USA. How very comical if true….

  • gbnhj

    What? Can’t tell the difference between Church and Cult? Despite the similarities, I’d say the difference is clear.

  • Aja Aja

    Keep in mind that this is TV Chosun, who maybe on a counter offensive against the left’s current campaign. So take it with a grain of salt.

    This isn’t surprising at all if it’s true though. The guy had some serious powerful help within the Korean governments to be able to stay alive and thrive. The high government connections I would imagine would be smudged with dirt everywhere. Also, the way the candle light zombies act, are perfectly remiminicent of the way the brain washed cults act. And it would also not be surprising that this religious cult was also behind the ideal of mass demonstrations by baby cart pushing moms during the 2008 Mad Cow protests.

  • http://jushinjok.blogspot.com JinJoo

    “Keep in mind that this is TV Chosun, who maybe on a counter offensive against the left’s current campaign. So take it with a grain of salt.”

    Well… unlike JBTC and other left wing press {JBTC, by the way, is a sister company of JoongAng and JoongAng Ilbo (initially Samsung’s} is now owned by Lee Geon Hee’s brother in law), TV Chosun have been very 객관적 so far… At least they verified the facts before reporting them.

    Left wing press, apparently, tried very hard to connect Yu with CDH…..and how did it turn out?


  • RElgin

    The Chosun Ilbo and their affiliates are not sources of information I would give much credit to. They are driven by their own bias and not an honest or impartial reporting of news.

  • redwhitedude

    Even if I was very drunk or very high on drugs I wouldn’t level those accusations. KTU and this cult just shot themselves on the foot. It’s not like it is going to make any difference with the KTU because of their pathetic track record.

  • redwhitedude

    The KTU doesn’t know how to act like a political interest group. They think the way to do it is butt in with their hairbrained ideas.

  • http://jushinjok.blogspot.com JinJoo

    Mr Elgin, I am sure you know that I don’t think of Korean main stream press highly. However, the article I
    posted above are based on verified facts.

    I wonder what sources of information you would give credit to….

  • Aja Aja

    Big anti-government candle light protests now planned in coming days organized by People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy including the one tonight which is expected to be attended by 30,000 people, demanding an apology from the President, and the punishment against the Coast Guards.

    As I predicted, the candle light protests are getting larger by the day, as all the usual leftist thugs and anarchists who are crawling out of their rocks, see this is as a golden opportunity undermine the current government’s mandates, and to get rid of the party that they don’t like without elections. After the protest rally condemning the government, they will march 5 km through Jongro-3 and Ulchiro-3. I would stay away from center of Seoul in the evening, it’s going to be a mess.

    If the PGH stepping down from power will save Korea yet another series of riots and turmoil, I would either support her stepping down or they calling an early elections. Then let the lefties have their rule that they desperately desire, so that they can run Korea down to the ground. I’m getting fucking sick and tired of their shinannigans.

  • Aja Aja

    And not to make things any worse, the May 18 1980 Gwangju massacre memorial day is only a day away. For those who still say this is not political at all, why is this man, Moon Jae In, makes a statement that Sewol disaster is another Gwangju? Why tie Sewol with Gwangju?



  • Dokdoforever

    So, which do you like better? the Church or the Cult?

  • RolyPoly

    This was bound to come. PGH is such a polarizing candidate that she can galvanize all anti-da-da-Park factions(Undongkwon) together. And, there are many, one half of Koreans. This can basically split the country into two. LMB was different because he always advertized his poor childhood and Undongkwon let him be. But PGH is the daughter of da-da who gave rise to UDK. Very different. The impact, or hatred, is similar to Pres. Chun or Noh becoming the president again. UDK will not only throw Molotov but burn buildings – typical Commie uprising style- or even arm themselves to shoot (and kill!) Korean Army like they did at Kwangju. PGH got to go for the sake of Korea.
    If my worst scenario come true, PGH will be remembered as the worst president in Korean history. Even worse than double-eyelid frog.

  • RolyPoly

    Korea is very much like Mexico or Brazil. People are volatile even wild. The main reason is the possibility of war with NK. The minor reason is income distribution and Korean history of military rule. PGH is a symbol of former military rule.
    UDKs think they are democratic. Yet they support NK. Very hypocritical. Their heads are pro-NK, in other word, Commies. Yet they like to be called “Liberal”. To me, they are just plain old Commies. They are also pro-China and anti-America. Jolla Commies are the center of UDK. All heads come from Kwangju.
    The dictator family of da-da Park, pres. Chun and Noh come from Kyuengsang area. Da-da Park made sure all important government agacies were filled with KS people. The dictator basically fattened the KS area and its people. Very bad leadership. Chun and Noh did the same. The country is very divided even now.
    PGH is a curse to Korea. She can single-handedly start a civil war in SK and bring Korean war II. PGH is a bad news.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    I find this statement from 문재인 particularly stupid.
    That might be because I’ve never liked him.

  • dlbarch

    The idea that the Sewol disaster is “another Gwangju” is more than just stupid…it is a gobsmackingly undeniable failure of character and leadership.

    And to think I once thought this man had the prudence and judicious temperament to be president of Korea.



  • RolyPoly

    This guy shaved his head. http://www.mediatoday.co.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=116623
    He could have wore his panties outside his pants to show he is angry but that would not be Korean style. Nor would wearing gang style baggy pants. It must be shaved head. An accepted norm for demonstrating anger Korean style.
    A KBS heavyweight is sayin’ he was pressured by the president not to report anything bad about Marine Police. But he could be just dissn’ the Princess.
    The Antoinette met with Sewol victim families and promised special laws and committee but when asked the scope included her she evaded the answer. So, it did not turn out good, AGAIN. She is truly messing this one badly. Nothing she does works out. Things are getting bad to worse. Commies are gathering in large numbers in Seoul. (Kwangju is empty. Just kidding..) It’s going to be a hot summer.

  • bumfromkorea

    Disgusting display of political opportunism. Just nauseating.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    His one statement alone almost warrants in retrospect all the 설레발 난리 from the Hannara camp.

    Yeah, and if, after last time (when he would not back off in the one-to-one with Ahn and let Park waltz into 청와대) he puts himself forward again for the next election I will really just think Korea deserves whatever it gets.

  • Aja Aja

    The conspiracy theorists are out in force.

    To read the minds of those who are on the streets holding the candles, you have to go into their den and find out why they see the government as the chief culprit for the deaths.

    One of the things that caught my eye was this post in Daum Agora


    In their minds, it was the coast guards who ordered the ship’s crew to leave the passengers where they are, and ordered the crew off the ship. Then they sent the rescue boats to pick the crew up. To them, it really is Gwangju all over again – deliberate massacre of innocent people by the people who were in power.

    So the case has slowly being built around pointing the fingers squarely against the coast guards, to link them to the ruling government itself. The case is no longer about government’s mismanagement or neglect.

    Moon’s attempt is to capitalize and ride on the populism and sentiment on the internet.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    Precisely because of these preposterous accusations which fly left and right and detract from getting to the bottom to exactly what failed in the marine police operations, one must have a *government independent inquiry* team take their time over everything, which is what the families demanded of the president today.

  • Aja Aja

    She didn’t evade the answer, she said she would do her best to come up with the new laws and measures, but that ultimately the laws are passed by the national assembly. She apologized to the family in person, for the third time. But the families weren’t satisfied. The editorials at Hani wonder why she’s so cold and lack tears. After all, tears shed is a sure sign of being sorry. A fourth apology is also planned next week, with her speech to be televised nationally. She better show some tears at that time. Better yet, get on her knees and beg for forgiveness.

    By the way, the families of the missing also want the president to forcibly stop the civilian divers from giving up the search and leaving the disaster site, and force them to dive. More and more divers are giving up and going home due to increased dangers and they’re having difficulty finding divers to replace them and supplement the Navy and Undine divers. So where are all the civilian volunteers now?

  • Aja Aja

    Bring in the foreign advisors. And they should not be Americans.

  • gbnhj

    The Church, most definitely. Yes, there was a time when The Cult seemed seductive, but it was ultimately unfulfilling, and I finally found myself going back to The Church. Now, all these years later, I really feel that I made the right choice. Still, I don’t condemn those who chose otherwise. I mean, after all, who are we to judge, right?

  • Sumo294

    Ms. Elgin thinks the NYT is objective and fair and the epitome of balanced reporting and free from bias–somewhere someday a baby will be born without bias–imagine that.

  • Sumo294

    I thought he was from your political party?

  • Sumo294

    Her apology was terrible–her handlers don’t know what they are doing–her fault for hiring them.

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  • RElgin

    Each has its own bias. I place the Chosun Ilbo in the same category as those whose reporting is secondary to their political bias.. Lately, even the NYT is pretty poor but they are still better than other sources.

  • Koreandumbdumb

    Again, what is wrong with showing some tears? Even LMB would have done. Da-da Park, the double-eyelid, even Chun would have done it and make it look real. Even Queen of England would do it. Somehow, PGH could not. Maybe it is due to her Elite upbringing? To lead a nation, one has to do good acting. Ask Reagan !