S. Korean Cult Member Suspected of Illegally Obtaining Visa

The Seoul Times/August 9, 2006

A senior member of the South Korean cult group "'Setsuri," or also known as JMS which has drawn several allegations of rape, is suspected of illegally obtaining a resident visa with the help of two Japanese, sources familiar with the matter told Kyodo News on Aug, 8, 2006

The 44-year-old South Korean woman lives in Chiba City, the sources said, adding the Chiba prefectural police are considering questioning her on suspicion of violating the immigration law.

South Korean authorities have put the group's founder, Jung Myung Seok, 61, on an international wanted list on rape charges. The Japanese authorities are also expected to launch an investigation into the organization.

The sources said two Japanese men are believed to have helped the woman illegally obtain her visa. The woman is also suspected of putting false information in her alien registration certificate.

Setsuri, which means providence, was established in South Korea around 1980 and became active in Japan around 1987. It is estimated to have more than 2,000 followers, most of them students and other young people.

The cult has no headquarters in Japan and uses apartment buildings as its offices. It usually passes itself off as a sports, music or cheerleading club on campuses as well as groups of models.

The group's several senior members based in Japan are believed to have introduced female followers to Jung and taken them to his hideouts on several occasions.

Jung is said to have raped the women, pretending to conduct breast cancer checks on them in many cases.

The victims are considering filing complaints against Jung on a second-degree rape because they were hypnotized when the incidents occurred.

Meanwhile, the South Korean weekly Sisa Journal reported Tuesday that Setsuri has followers among staff members of the Blue House presidential office and other key state organizations.

The group, which is also known as JMS, has followers in the public prosecutors office, Presidential Security Service and the National Intelligence Service, the report said.

The report was based on the group's internal documents, which were provided by former aides to the group's founder, Jung Myung Seok, 61, to a group named Exodus, which has been helping followers escape the cult.

Letters exchanged within the group frequently cited the name of an incumbent prosecutor at the public prosecutors office for northern Seoul, the report said.

The report also said the man who was arrested in May in connection with a group assault on a member of Exodus worked at the Presidential Security Service at the time of his arrest. It said he previously worked as Jung's bodyguard.

The report said there are at least several hundred followers of the cult inside the country's military and police.

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