Upping the Ante

The stakes at Geumsuwon, suspected hideout of Yoo Byoung-eun, grew significantly higher over the weekend, and the prosecutor’s office went all in.

senior prosecutor involved in the case told the JoongAng Ilbo that “We gave the Yoo family another chance because they have their rights as citizens. But we will have custody of him within this week no matter what.”

If the prosecutor’s office had hoped to buy the pot, members of the Evangelical Baptist Church called:  “ ‘Be prepared for bloodshed. Things cannot get worse. We will protect with our lives. In case of bloodshed, the prosecution will be responsible. If we lose the church, we lose everything,’ they shouted, punching the air with their fists.”

I would expect such words from the sect members.  The prosecutor’s office, however, should not engage in table talk.   Setting the stage for the final showdown later in the week, the prosecutor’s office is expected to ask for and obtain an arrest warrant for Yoo Tuesday.

Rather than noting the parallels to Waco, I hope the Korean authorities remain mindful of two key differences:  those holed up inside the compound do not have firearms and do not represent a threat to themselves or those outside the compound.

The Korean authorities seem to have misplayed their superior hand.  Doubling down on their mistakes, the Korean authorities frittered away their biggest chip, time.  By setting an end of week deadline, they bet all on this round, alerted and mobilized the sect’s members, and maybe even sent a cut and run signal to Yoo Byung-eun.

I’ve been to the sect’s Geumsuwon complex twice, today and Thursday last week.  Today, I observed many more people behind the compound’s main gate and blocking the main driveway.  I noticed a police presence of three squad cars, if the one squad car with two sleeping police officers (I took a photo) counts.  I witnessed increased traffic, which went unchecked by Korean authorities, in and out the main gate and several large trucks capable of carrying several days’ provisions for the several hundred visible behind the main gate.

I spoke to several sect members and one member in depth.  She emphasized the  environmentalism as one of the sect’s core beliefs.  “Hannah” self-identified the sect as “Christian fundamentalists” and believers in “the truth”.  She repeatedly talked about the corruption in the Korean government and judicial system, that Yoo Byoung-eun would not be treated fairly, and that the sect’s membership were protecting the land.  She motioned toward the long, uncut grass and specifically pointed out the tall-stalked dandelion heads that had turned to parachute balls, which means that they were ripe for children to pluck and scatter to the breeze to the chagrin of grandfathers everywhere.  Hannah never referred to “Mr. Yoo” as a minister or religious leader.  She said that the sect was without ministers and that all males, she specifically and without prompt excluded women, were welcome to speak before the congregation.

Since my visit last Thursday and keeping with their environmentalism, the sect provided a dual male/female portapotty for the convenience of the media.  I spoke to a reporter from Channel A who said that the sect had cared for the media members’ overnight comfort.  From the north perimeter, I could see at least three of the oft-mentioned subway cars behind the trees.  Both the north and south perimeters had more members watching from make-shift guard houses than had been visible on Thursday.  The north perimeter had razor wire, which if I judge by the weathering was not new and seemed to present more of their intentions to non-scheduled visitors than an effective deterrent to anyone who really wanted to enter the compound.

The sect members seemed to be of two simultaneously conflicting and irreconcilable minds:  one moment they spoke to me of the impending and perhaps concluding confrontation and the next they gave me organic candy and invited my family and me to the compound anytime.

I texted Hannah my email address and offered her the opportunity to publish an unedited message to the English speaking foreign community, and she texted back, “Follow ur heart :)

  • RElgin

    Thanks Joe, this is a neat perspective of the situation.
    As you put it, the government seems to have failed in their usage of time. I guess they never heard of Waco or have thought about what could go wrong.

    They will end up with another mismanaged disaster.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    Yesterday I saw a lot of these photos of deer 고라니 on the grounds of 금수원 on the newsportal.


    Did you get to see any?
    I’m always skeptical of these private institutions/property with wild animals outside places like the U.K. where hereditary peer system still exists.

    It reminds me of Micheal Jackson’s house.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    I did not see any deer, but the grounds are quite hidden. I had driven by there dozens of times before and had never noticed the compound. Of course, I had never looked for it before.

    The grounds have over a hundred meters of frontage on Rte. 18. The north and south perimeters are bounded by two minor access roads that have are typical of village cement roads in width, which means wide enough for one vehicle.

    As far as I can tell, the grounds extend back into the base of one of Korea’s many low mountains. I could not get a feel for the distance because I was looking at a mountain, but I would guess a mile or farther. If Yoo wanted to escape, he could just keep walking back. Of course, none of the many entering and exiting vehicles got inspected or even peered into. I noticed almost zero police presence.

    The grounds are natural in their flora, and I would not be surprised, given the mountain, of any indigenous fauna. I think that they are sincere in their love for the land. Yoo Byeung-eun snapped three million photos from a window on the land. If you do the math, his click rate is impressive. Even on auto, he had to view the photos. Hannah said he did it up to 18 hours a day, even through bitter cold.

  • redwhitedude

    Or perhaps they’ll let this drag on until the pope gets to Korea.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    Re: 유병언’s photography hobby

    You’ve seen this :

    haven’t you? He’s flaunting the camera like he’s some sort of celebrity.

    I mean I have been to plenty of rich men’s do in the West where old men with money flaunt their hobby in art/music so this is not that different, but still..

  • redwhitedude

    How about this. Just cordon off the area and keep lobbing tear gas canisters all day long over several weeks.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    Hannah spoke of “Mr. Yoo” as an inventor, artist, business man, environmentalist, writer, and other polymath’s endeavors. She did cite one salient point, that his art had been shown in galleries, specifically mentioning the Louvre, around the world and that he, despite what some would say, must be considered a serious artist since no artists could buy their way into the Louvre.

    She did have a point.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    Um, yeah, about that Louvre, already SBS 그것이 알고싶다 has got to the bottom of it.


    He donated a lot of money to the museums.

    Again, this is not uncommon abroad either, rich men having exhibitions of their own work or those they are connected to by money.

  • que337

    Mr. AJ blogs at the MH? WTF.

  • wangkon936

    … like Waco.

  • A Korean

    Anon Joe is the moderator. :)

    Anyways, this is why I like reading pieces by those who live in Korea, instead of those of us outside looking in. Would be nice to see posts by Koreans living in Korea, too.

  • redwhitedude

    Actually I just remembered how the US went after Noriega. Have loud speakers surrounding the compound and have blast the crappiest K-crap from this side of the Korean peninsula as well.

    So no Waco needed here. Just sit there doing this and lobbing tear gas canister all day long for several weeks at a time. Let’s see if they can stand up to these things.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    As far as I know the only moderators apart from the blogowner are RElgin and Wangkon since they volunteered to help with the spam when Robert Koehler moved the commenting system to Disshite,

    The rest of the guest bloggers do not have any power of moderation (i.e. remove or touch comments by anybody else, unless they are written on their own posts), and as I have said before, *should not abuse* this power for their own benefit or in an argument with another commenter.

    Oh, and maybe there are some remnants hanging around – people with moderator power from a while back, like Brendan Carr.

  • wangkon936

    Plus, no legalization of guns to make a Waco more likely. That is unless the religious nuts break into a army reserve storage facility. Lots of small and heavy weapons in those reserved storage sites that are apparently dotted all around the peninsula.

  • wangkon936

    Very few Koreans living in Korea appear to have the language confidence to post on a place like TMH.

  • redwhitedude

    Very unlikely.

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Oddly enough, some folk seem to think this blog is excessively anti-Japanese.

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    I usually give any posters moderating power. You want it, too?

  • Tapp

    In “Hannah’s” defense, I agree that there is very little chance that he will be treated fairly. This entire ordeal has been witch hunts and scapegoats since the first day. I honestly don’t know if I’m complaining about that or not. If this was the US, the bosses and ownership would end up with no charges at all. I’m not sure which one is worse: a man deemed guilty before any defense is mounted or a man declared innocent before any evidence is collected.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    What other superpowers does it consist of? X-ray vision?
    Bigger boobs?

    Just kidding. No thanks, like I said before. I don’t need it.

  • pawikirogii

    번역: when somebody said marmot’s hole was anti-korean, i used to defend this blog by saying it wasn’t. NOW, i can’t even do that.

  • Tapp

    Does it matter who writes the post if it falls into general guidelines of the blog? This post seemed informative and generally free of any bias. Anything that increases the frequency of posts on this site is a good thing, in my opinion. I quite like coming here, but a lot of the posters get bogged (blogged?) down and and there are sometimes weeks between posts.

  • redwhitedude

    You wouldn’t be referring those in the 2ch hangout. There those who think this blog is anti-Korean littered with ESLers who just air out their dirty laundry.

  • redwhitedude

    A shinning point about engrish education in Korea.

  • redwhitedude

    That’ll be something become a poster at MH and get discounts at a local eh.. Korean plastic surgery clinic.