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..”