The Korea Herald

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지나쌤

JMS raided over religious leader’s alleged sex crimes

By Lee Jung-youn

Published : March 23, 2023 - 18:09

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Police vehicles enter the compound belonging to South Korean religious group Christian Gospel Mission or Jesus Morning Star, led by Jeong Myeong-seok, located in Wolmyeong-dong, Geumsan, South Chungcheong Province. (Yonhap) Police vehicles enter the compound belonging to South Korean religious group Christian Gospel Mission or Jesus Morning Star, led by Jeong Myeong-seok, located in Wolmyeong-dong, Geumsan, South Chungcheong Province. (Yonhap)

Prosecutors and police on Thursday raided the compound of a religious group led by Jeong Myeong-seok, who is facing fresh allegations of sex crimes raised by the Netflix documentary series titled, “In the Name of God: A Holy Betrayal."

The South Chungcheong Provincial Police deployed 120 investigators to the compound, which houses a training center and the residence of the leader of the organization, located in Wolmyeong-dong, Geumsan-gun, South Chungcheong Province.

Jesus Morning Star, or JMS for short, is is a scandal-ridden religious movement organization based in Korea and led by Jeong, who has reportedly claimed himself to be the “messiah.”

The allegations about Jeong and JMS resurfaced after the Netflix documentary series shed light on the group and their misconduct. The series accuses the group of brainwashing believers and Jeong of raping female followers.

Earlier in January, three Korean female JMS members sued Jeong, claiming that they were sexually assaulted and harassed by him. The police plan to investigate those involved in the case as soon as they finish analyzing the confiscated materials.

The Daejeon District Prosecutor's Office also dispatched 80 investigators to the compound to investigate the sex crime charges for which Jeong is currently on trial, including of sexually abusing two foreign female members of the organization.

Jeong was arrested and indicted on charges of molesting or sexually assaulting a 28-year-old Hong Kong national JMS member 17 times from February 2018 to September 2021 at a training center in South Chungcheong Province, and touching the body of a 30-year-old Australian national member five times from July 2018 to the end of that year.

A prosecution official said, "We will continue to work closely with the police to protect the victims and ensure that punishment corresponding to the crimes can be achieved through thorough investigation of Jeong’s crimes."

Jeong has been denying the charges, saying that the victims were not brainwashed or unable to resist. He claimed he is a person, not a god or messiah.

Jeong was released from prison in February 2018 after serving 10 years in prison for molesting or sexually assaulting four JMS members in their 20s in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Ansan, Gyeonggi Province from August 2001 to April 2006.