Sect leader to lecture via Internet in South Korea

Associated Press, Aug. 6, 2003

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The leader of a religious sect that claims to have produced the first cloned human will give a planned lecture in Seoul via the Internet after being barred from visiting South Korea, his followers said Wednesday.

Claude Vorilhon, the founder of the Raelian movement, was turned away after arriving at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on Aug. 2. South Korea feared that he might engage in human-cloning activities during his stay.

Vorilhon, who calls himself Rael, had planned to lecture Thursday at a Seoul movie theater.

“Rael’s lecture will proceed as scheduled via Internet video conferencing, linking his Canada home and the Scara theater in Seoul,” said the movement’s Korean office spokesman, Choi Sung-ho.

The theater confirmed the plan.

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Vorilhon in 1997 launched Clonaid, the first human cloning company, which claimed last year that it had cloned a baby girl. The claim hasn’t been confirmed.

South Korea has been accelerating efforts to enact its first law against the practice.

The Raelian movement, which believes life on Earth was created by clones of extraterrestrials, had criticized the rejection of Vorilhon as discrimination against a religious minority.

South Korean news reports have said that three Korean women applied to Clonaid to have cloned human embryos implanted, and one had been successfully impregnated. The reports also haven’t been confirmed.

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