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Controversy has followed Jung Myung Seok since at least 1999 when he fled Korea with a lawsuit pending against him. He was formally charged in 2001, and became an international fugitive in 2002:
Jung, who established the cult nearly three decades ago, has been wanted by both Interpol and the South Korean government since 1999 after rape allegations became public, according to several Asian newspaper reports.
Jung was formally charged with rape in 2001, and was captured in Hong Kong in 2003, but posted his own bail and avoided South Korean extradition charges. His whereabouts have been unknown since then, although he is rumored to be hiding in China, according to Peter Daley, an English professor at South Korea’s Keimyung University and a dedicated critic of Jung who established an extensive Web site aimed at exposing GACP’s activities after his roommate became involved with the cult.
Since the allegations became public, numerous other women have come forward with similar accusations. According to July reports from Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, more than 100 women have said they were sexually abused or raped by Jung under the pretense of religious purification.
“There is a history of abuse with this group,” Daley said. “So many girls get raped by its leader.”
GACP is most active in Asian countries but has branches worldwide, Daley said. It concentrates its membership recruitment activities at elite universities, including the University of Tokyo, Kyoto University, Osaka University, National Taiwan University and, recently, UCSD.
“Most of the former members I have spoken to encountered JMS on a university campus,” Daley stated in a February 2006 article in the Keimyung Gazette. “Younger girls are also targeted for recruitment.”
The cult seeks members, according to Asahi Shimbun, by organizing sporting events, modeling shows, dance shows and other activities before inviting participants to Bible study sessions, where they are subsequently influenced to accept cult teachings that declare Jung as the true messiah and regulate members’ sleeping and eating patterns. Former members have said that the group engages in brainwashing and extensive secrecy, and uses fun activities to build trust with recruits before introducing them to Jung’s teachings.
- Source: Alleged Cult Sows Seeds Via Campus Event, The Guardian, University of California, San Diego, USA, Nov. 13, 2006
Jung Myung Seok was arrested in Hong Kong in 2003 for visa violations but later fled an extradition hearing. China extradited him to Seoul in February 2008.
In August 2008 he was sentenced to 6 years in prison.
Upon appeal, the cult leader was jailed for 10 years in February 2009.
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