2 bodies dug up in suspected cult killing

JoonAng Daily (Korea), Aug. 15, 2003
by Chung Chan-min, Jeon Ick-jin

The bodies of two religious-group members were unearthed yesterday at a mountain in Gyeonggi province. They were killed and buried by group members, the prosecution said.

The religious group known as the Yeong Saeng, or “eternal life,” church has been considered a cult, and created a stir in 1995 over a similar case.

The bodies were exhumed from hill next to the Geumgwang reservoir in Anseong city. The identities of the men have not yet been revealed.

The prosecution said it had been able to locate the bodies from murder confessions by two men identified only as Mr. Kim and Mr. Jeong. Both are members of the Yeong Saeng Church and committed the crime on the order of the church’s founder, Cho Hee-seong, the prosecution said. The two murder suspects and Mr. Cho were detained yesterday.

The prosecution said that Mr. Cho had ordered the killings because the victims had opposed him and did not follow church doctrine properly. More cult members are thought to have been killed and buried throughout the nation, the prosecution said.

“The suspects stated that they had killed nine others and secretly buried them in nine spots nationwide between 1985 and 1992,” said Shim Jae-chun, who led the investigation. “We will continue to look for bodies.”

Mr. Cho started the church in 1981 after claiming to have won a battle with devils, the prosecution said. Thereafter, it said, he called himself the Messiah.

The church has 55 offices in Korea, Japan and the United States. It claims to have 300,000 members.

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