SEOUL, May 16 (Yonhap) — A South Korean cult leader accused of raping his female followers has been captured in China and faces extradition, a South Korean official said Wednesday.
Jeong Myeong-seok, 62, who has set up a cult of personality known as JMS after his initials, fled South Korea in 1999, one day after rape allegations against him aired on national television.
The self-proclaimed messiah, formally charged with rape in 2001, was arrested in Hong Kong in 2003 on visa violations. Jeong fled an extradition hearing before being taken back into custody by Chinese authorities early this month.
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“We have confirmed the man captured on May 1 by the Chinese authorities is Jeong, the leader of JMS,” said a Justice Ministry official, requesting anonymity.
Jeong claims he has received special revelations from God. Former members of his cult, mostly young girls, have told police they were told to disrobe for a “health check” and have sex with him to wipe off their sins. The girls said they were threatened with “spiritual death” if they spoke of their experiences.
Jeong is still believed to command tens of hundreds of followers, including students, soldiers, teachers, and children.