International Scholars Raise Concerns over “an Attempt to Destroy a New Religious Movement” in South Korea

Published in World
Monday, 27 July 2020 11:31

On July 20, a webinar on a new religious movement in South Korea and its political, religious, and social dimensions with the recent COVID-19 crisis invited international scholars and experts in the field of religion, international law, and human rights.

Titled “COVID-19 and Religious Freedom: Scapegoating Shincheonji in South Korea”, the webinar addressed the recent issues of aggressive attack from politically powerful conservative and fundamentalist Protestant churches in the country on a newly-established, fast-growing Christian denomination named 'Shincheonji (New Heaven and New Earth) Church of Jesus' founded in 1984.

The new Christian movement by Shincheonji has become a target of “persecution from fundamentalist protestants” because of its successful religious expansion “from the conservative and fundamentalist protestants who see Shincheonji as competitors and want to destroy it," said Massimo Introvigne as an Italian sociologist of religion who studied Shincheonji before and after the COVID-19 pandemic and published the first account of the religious group in English.

Alessandro Amicarelli, Chairman European Federation for Freedom of Belief, pointed out that the South Korean authorities problematized Shincheonji as a cause of the COVID-19 crisis to shut down the church. “Already 30 other people were tested positive before the patient 31 (a member of Shincheonji criticized for the widespread of the virus). Many Chinese including ones from Wuhan had visited Daegu (of South Korea) and infection spread,” he said.

Willy Fautre, Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF), said that the recent attack on Shincheonji can be viewed as an attempt by the fundamentalist Protestant groups in South Korea to weaken and destroy the competitor in the religious market. He added, "Human rights violations against Shincheonji members through coercive conversion program (also known as 'deprogramming') with kidnapping and confinement for the last decade have been made as a result of the failure of competition from the Protestant churches in the country."

Ciaran Burke, Associate Professor in University of Derby, said that the South Korean health authorities explicitly link Shinchoenji and outbreak of the COVID-19 until now even though a greater link between the virus and confirmation cases has been found in other churches. He also expressed concerns over “collecting personal information of 300,000 domestic and international Shincheonji members by the government which is a possible violation of international agreement, especially the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) South Korea ratified in 1990.”

The prosecution initiated investigation of Shincheonji leaders including founder Man Hee Lee for his alleged role in the widespread of the COVID-19. Three Shincheonji officials were arrested on July 8 on a charge of playing a role in major outbreak at its early stage by “(submitting) inaccurate list of members.”

“The authorities ignored requests to change the word ‘sect’ in their official reports when referring to Shincheonji church. Local governments encouraged the residents to report Shincheonji congregation and facilities to the authorities, creating stigma that the members were to be treated as criminals,” said a Shincheonji official in the webinar.

A recent statement issued by “families of the deceased and victims of COVID-19” wrote that "the thousands of the damage and deaths of Koreans reflect the failure of initial response to contain the virus by the government." It added that the Minister of Justice Choo Mi-ae “allowed COVID-19 patients from China to enter Korea, leading to a widespread outbreak of the virus across the country, which resulted in the deaths of the Korean people.” It also stated that she is trying to avoid her responsibility for the damage by “giving direct orders to prosecutors for a raid and arrests against Shincheonji Church”.

A leading South Korean TV network, MBC reported that a recently conducted screening at Daegu, epicenter of COVID-19 major outbreak within South Korea added the weight to the failure of initial response to contain the virus by the government. The report, citing analysis from a local university hospital, inferred that at least 180,000 of the total population of 2.4 million people in the city of Daegu were infected with the COVID-19, 27 times to the official 6,800 confirmed cases. Most of the confirmation cases, over 5,000, are members of Shincheonji Church as their personal information was collected by the government, while the remaining 180,000 potential infections have not been investigated.

Press Release of the Department of Public Relations

Heavenly Culture, World Peace, and the Restoration of Light

Read 618 times

Related items

  • South Korea: Plasma Donation by Shincheonji Church Facilitates Development of the Vaccine for COVID-19

    On August 27th, over 1,000 members of religious organization called Shincheonji Church of Jesus participated in donating plasma for the cure of COVID-19.

    This is carried out under the invitation of the health authorities in South Korea back on 24th, asking Shincheonji Church to cooperate for donating additional plasma for the development of the vaccine.

    Early this year, around 5,000 confirmed cases were found in Shincheonji Church members with most infections from the city of Daegu, while most of them recovered from the virus with 11 deaths.

    According to the report from the Korea Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (KCDC), 562 recovered members from the church registered to donate plasma and 409 completed donation in July through the cooperation between KCDC and Shincheonji Church. Facing the need for “facilitation of developing a cure through plasma donation and clinical trial”, the KCDC asked another round of a large-scale donation by members of Shincheonji Church in August.

    The KCDC in its official document expressed appreciation to Shincheonji Church (Chairman Lee, Man Hee) for “active participation in the collection of plasma as a group for the development of corona(virus) cure for the purpose of national health safety under the global crisis caused by the COVID-19.”

    “With the cooperation of Daegu city, Daegu Athletics Center plans to provide GC Pharma equipment and personnel (for the donation) from 27th August to 4th September. We express our gratitude to the city for providing a location for the group donations. We also express our gratitude to the congregation members of the religious organization, Shincheonji to be specific,” said Mr. Kwon Jun-wook, Deputy Director of the KCDC.

    Research and development of the convalescent plasma treatment is underway by National Institute of Health under the Ministry of Health and Welfare in cooperation with Green Cross (GC) Pharma, a biotechnology company in South Korea.

    On the same day, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized an emergency use of convalescent plasma for the treatment of COVID-19. Experts say that more data need to be collected to see the benefit of such treatment.

    Major challenges of researching the effectiveness and the development of convalescent plasma treatment come from limited supply from donors who must be recovered from the virus.

    As a religious leader, Chairman Lee, Man Hee of Shincheonji in July said, “This (plasma donation) is the work that needs to be done as citizens of this country and as true believers. It is keeping the command of Jesus of loving your neighbor as yourself (Mt 22:39 of the Bible).”

    Source: The South Korea Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention.

  • Туркменистан принял участие в обсуждении вопросов межпарламентского взаимодействия

    Руководство Меджлиса Туркменистана приняло участие в двухдневной пятой Всемирной конференции спикеров парламентов, организованной в онлайн-формате Межпарламентским союзом, в партнёрстве с парламентом Австрии и Организацией Объединённых Наций.

    Укрепление межпарламентского взаимодействия, призванного вносить свой вклад в решение актуальных задач современности, выступает важной составляющей политико-дипломатической деятельности Туркменистана на мировой арене.

    В состав созданного более 130 лет назад Межпарламентского союза (МПС), штаб-квартира которого находится в Женеве (Швейцария), сегодня входят около 180 национальных парламентов и 13 региональных парламентских структур. Кроме того, ряд международных парламентских организаций имеют статус ассоциированных членов МПС.

    Нынешний форум предварил основную часть пятой Всемирной конференции спикеров парламентов, которая перенесена на 2021 год из-за пандемии COVID-19 и состоится в столице Австрии – Вене. Во встрече приняли участие более двухсот парламентариев и эксперты из разных стран мира, представители авторитетных международных организаций.

    С приветственным словом на церемонии открытия телеконференции к собравшимся обратился Генеральный секретарь ООН Антониу Гутерриш, который подчеркнул важность консолидации усилий парламентского сообщества для достижения Целей устойчивого развития, решения глобальных проблем в области здравоохранения, климата и экономики, принятия эффективных мер в целях смягчения социально-экономических последствий пандемии коронавирусной инфекции, с которой столкнулось человечество.

    В интерактивной беседе участники форума обсудили широкий круг вопросов, решению которых придается особое значение в политике. А именно - усиление межпарламентского сотрудничества, противостояние глобальным вызовам времени и продвижение Повестки дня в области устойчивого развития на период до 2030 года.

    Среди ключевых тем дискуссий – «Демократия и меняющаяся роль парламента в XXI веке», «Наука, технологии и этика: новые вызовы и неотложные решения», «Создание инклюзивной и устойчивой экономики, обеспечивающей благополучие и справедливость для всех».

    Были представлены доклады, в которых освещался лучший мировой опыт по претворению в жизнь гендерного равенства, расширения прав и возможностей женщин, активизации участия молодёжи в политической и парламентской деятельности.

    Особое внимание было уделено неотложным мерам, которые необходимо предпринять в связи с происходящими на планете изменениями климата, а также решению проблем, касающихся трудовой миграцией. Специальное мероприятие было посвящено борьбе с терроризмом и насильственным экстремизмом.

    Концептуальные подходы нашей страны по вышеназванным аспектам международной жизни были чётко сформулированы в официальных выступлениях Президента Гурбангулы Бердымухамедова на сессиях Генеральной Ассамблеи ООН, других высоких форумах.

    Широкую международную поддержку получили конструктивные инициативы туркменского лидера, нацеленные на обеспечение всеобщего мира и стабильности, выработку сбалансированных решений глобальных проблем экономического, экологического и гуманитарного характера, вызывающих озабоченность мирового сообщества, создание оптимальных условий для устойчивого развития в региональном и планетарном масштабе.

    В данном контексте следует подчеркнуть особую значимость предложений Президента Туркменистана по всемерному задействованию потенциала научной дипломатии в борьбе с распространением COVID-19.

    Отметим, что накануне туркменская делегация приняла участие в 13-м Саммите женщин-спикеров парламентов, посвящённом мерам реагирования на пандемию коронавируса с учётом гендерных факторов, также проведённом по видеосвязи Межпарламентским союзом под эгидой ООН.

    В ходе видеофорума также констатировалась актуальность инициатив главы Туркменского государства Гурбангулы Бердымухамедова по созданию международного Совета учёных-медиков, активизации сотрудничества ученых и специалистов, обеспечению условий для регулярного обмена мнениями экспертов различных профильных сфер в решении глобальных проблем, связанных с распространением вирусов и опасных для здоровья людей микробов.

    По итогам форума была принята Декларация, созвучная общей теме Конференции: «Парламентское лидерство во имя эффективного многостороннего подхода, обеспечивающего мир и устойчивое развитие народонаселению и планете».

    Государственное информационное агентство Туркменистана 

  • Global Leaders Urge South Korean Government and the UN to Correct Religious Oppression in the Name of Covid-19 Quarantine

    As the spread of coronavirus continues to increase around the world, voices from the international community are rising to stop religious oppression occurring in South Korea, known as an exemplary case for Covid-19 quarantine.

    On August 17th, the Coalition of Caribbean Leaders for Peace (CCLP) consisting of the former and current leaders in the Caribbean including the former president of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sent a joint letter to South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

    In the letter, they said the governments, even in response to the urgency of the pandemic, must take responsibility for the protection of human rights regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status and expressed concern about ongoing oppression against Shincheonji Church, a South Korea-based Christian denomination that suffered from the unexpected mass infection at the beginning of this year.

    Ahead of this joint letter, 11 NGOs including the European Coordination of Associations and Individuals for Freedom of Conscience (CAP-LC) submitted the “annual report for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights” regarding the inappropriately targeted discrimination against Shincheonji Church to the UN Secretary-General.

    The annual report was titled “Scapegoating Members of Shincheonji for COVID-19 in the Republic of Korea”.

    The letter briefly pointed out the facts surrounding Shincheonji and Covid-19 as follows;

    〮   Covid-19 was introduced to South Korea from China.

    〮   According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus was already prevalent in the city of Daegu before the confirmation of (Shincheonji) the Patient 31 (in Daegu).

    〮   The government’s refusal to close the border to China contributed heavily to the outbreak.

    〮   In the face of growing public discontent that the government did not impose a travel restriction on China, Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae ordered the prosecution to investigate Shincheonji.

    〮   Vice Minister of Health confirmed that the list of private identification information gathered was not much different than that collected and checked by the government.

    〮   Prosecutors have arrested the officials of Shincheonji on the grounds that the list of congregation members submitted by Shincheonji was not complete.

    By referring to the report “Factsheet on the global response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the impact on religious practice and religious freedom” by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), the joint letter reiterated that South Korea provides a vivid example of how public health emergencies can increase the risk to marginalized religious groups.

    They pointed out that the South Korean government's silence about the current situation would set a dangerous global precedent for allowing similar persecution, violence, and harassment against other religious minorities, and strongly urged the Korean government to “step forward to an end to this discrimination.”

    Source: the Coalition of Caribbean Leaders for Peace (CCLP)


    According to the laboratory test results taken in recent days, it has been confirmed that 11 employees from various structural units under the Ministry of Internal Affairs were infected with COVID 19 disease. Out of 11 confirmed cases – 7 have been registered at Border Management and Coordination Main Division of the Patrol Police Department, 3 in Mestia municipality, where firefighter, Security Policemen and Border Police officer tested positive for the disease, while 11th case was confirmed in Tbilisi, to Security Police inspector.

    All seven employees of Border Management and Coordination Main Division were fulfilling their official duties at Dariali border crossing point. At this moment, they have already been transferred to Tbilisi Infectious Disease Hospital.
    The health condition of all infected employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs is stable at this stage.
    Epidemiologists are actively studying their contacts. More than 20 employees, being in interaction with the infected persons, have already been transferred to the quarantine zone.
    In the workspaces of the mentioned employees, disinfection activities were carried out, including service car fleet, that has already been treated with special solutions.
    It should be noted that the staff of the Ministry of Internal Affairs strictly follows recommendations of the World Health Organization as well as norms norms defined by the safety protocol when working with citizens.
    In coordination with the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health, targeted testing for coronavirus is carried out on a regular basis to employees of various departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
  • Joint Letter Sent to the UN Secretary-General to Stop Human Rights Violations and Religious Oppression in South Korea

    On August 10th, 155 youth groups with one million members from 62 countries around the world sent a joint letter to the UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the UN affiliates, including the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

    The joint letter contained a request for recommendations to stop discrimination against Shincheonji Church, a new Christian denomination headquartered in South Korea, and a UN ECOSOC-affiliated organization named Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL).

    The representative of this letter, the director and founder of FREE WATCH AFGHANISTAN, Mobeenullah Aimaq, said that he agreed with the UN's concern for the persecution of minorities and vulnerable groups as well as human rights violations that continue to occur in the pretext of fighting the coronavirus. To solve this problem, he proposed a joint letter to young people around the world to appeal to the international community.

    He strongly urged that the Korean Government should knock off the prosecution of Shincheonji Church and HWPL in South Korea. "Prosecuting Shincheonji Church and HWPL should be immediately stopped so that the international reputation of the government, known as a proponent of peace in the globe, will be saved," he added.

    In the letter, they reported the several acts of unfair discrimination and oppression of the Korean government and the media against these organizations by citing the concerns of UN Secretary-General regarding "disproportionate effects on certain communities, the rise of hate speech, and the targeting of vulnerable groups".

    According to the report, there have been over 5,500 instances of human rights abuses of members of the Shincheonji Church during this period of the ongoing pandemic. Among the cases include two female members’ death in suspicious circumstances. Many of these victims are promising young people who are now facing increased discrimination in workplaces and schools, violence at home, and even forced deprogramming.

    The letter highlights that the members of Shincheonji Church are also victims who were unfortunately infected with the virus despite following the government's guidelines related to the pandemic.

    Furthermore, the unprecedented custody investigation against 89-years-old Chairman Man Hee Lee of Shincheonji Church and HWPL was recently determined. The charters of these two groups have been revoked by the government and they have been subject to rigorous tax investigations. Those in leadership positions within the organizations also have been taken into custody for questioning.

    In the Korea Times column titled “Can unpopular sect expect justice?”, Michael Breen, CEO of Insight Communications, referred the current investigation into Shincheonji Church as a “witch-hunt” by saying that Shincheonji is a safe target for politicians and others who comment in public since it is unpopular.

    In the joint letter, they urged that cases of human rights, social and religious repression, such as the ones occurring in South Korea, must be put to an end in order to build "more effective and inclusive solutions for the emergency of today and the recovery for tomorrow."


    Press Release of the Department of Public Relations

    Heavenly Culture, World Peace, and the Restoration of Light

Business News

The capital budget proposed 1 800 000 will be saved

The capital budget proposed 1 800 000 will be saved

City government 2015 budget amendments. It was presented by Mayor David Narmania said the budget ame...

Railway station to be opened in Batumi

Railway station to be opened in Batumi

Construction of a railway station started many years ago but terminated shortly after will come to a...

Prime Minister meets with businesspersons in Kakheti

Prime Minister meets with businesspersons in Kakheti

Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili visited eastern Kakheti region within the framework of...

The Official Value of Dollar – 2.2533 GELS

The Official Value of Dollar – 2.2533 GELS

The official value of US Dollar reached 2.2533 GEL (Lari). National Bank of Georgia set the official...


« September 2020 »
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30        


The News Agency,
a part of STARVISION
Media Group.
It made its first
appearance on the Internet..More



Lechkhumi street.43


Phone: (+995 32) 257 91 11




Social Media