In Korea, Cops Raid COVID-Spreading Church Whose Leader Faces Charges

"Lee Man-hee, the reclusive founder of the Shincheonji Church at the centre of South Korea's coronavirus outbreak."Screengrab / Guardian News / YouTube

JakeThomas

This “minor religious sect” is “accused of causing the country's biggest cluster outbreaks.”

The Korea Herald reports that on May 22, prosecutors in Korea raided Shincheonji Church of Jesus facilities as part of a probe into allegations that the “minor religious sect” hindered the government’s efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

  • Approximately 100 investigators raided Shincheonji branches nationwide in search of materials connected to charges against the group’s founder, 89-year-old Lee Man-hee.

  • This raid is the “first forcible” move against the group since a group describing themselves as victims of Shincheonji in February filed a complaint accusing Lee of “embezzlement, dereliction of duty and violation of infectious disease prevention laws.”

  • Shinchoenji has been “accused of causing the country's biggest cluster outbreaks.” Its worship services, in which congregants “sit close together and chant loud in poorly ventilated spaces,” are believed to be a factor in rapidly spreading COVID-19 and causing 47% of the nation’s 11,142 cases.

  • Lee has also been accused of instructing members to not cooperate with officials, further hindering efforts to mitigate COVID-19 spread.

  • In a March 1 statement, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said that Shincheonji and Lee’s obstruction of health authorities’ work “constitute[s] murder and injury charges under criminal law.”

Seoul Mayor Park Won-Soon said, “The prosecution should investigate and punish key leaders of the Shincheonji, accountable for the recent spread of the deadly virus, in a swift and stern manner.”

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Written by PMH.

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