Jeong Myeong-Seok, believed to be in his early sixties, set up a cult known by his initials of JMS in the late 1980s.
He fled South Korea in 1999, one day after rape allegations against him were broadcast on national television.
In 2001, South Korean authorities charged Jeong with rape.
He was arrested in Hong Kong in 2003 on visa violations, and later fled an extradition hearing.
He was detained by Chinese authorities in May last year on charges that he raped another South Korean follower in China.