(CNN)Illness was never ever accepted as a legitimate factor to miss out on services at the Shincheonji spiritual group, states previous member Duhyen Kim.
“The culture was, despite the fact that you’re ill you can be found in on Sunday. If you’re so ill you can’t come Sunday, you need to begin Monday or Tuesday– you need to offset the time,” Kim states. He explains how, when he was a member, fans would rest on the flooring throughout hours-long services “compacted like sardines.”
The spiritual group– a spin-off of Christianity– is now at the heart of South Korea’s unique coronavirus
break out, especially in the city of Daegu.
“We are sterilizing every church and annex structures all throughout the country, consisting of Daegu branch. We will actively take part in illness avoidance activity, following the federal government’s step,”checks out a declaration frpm the group.
The spiritual group likewise blasted its critics.
” The media had actually been reporting that we are the primary perpetrator in the spread of infection, describing our ‘uncommon service design ‘– a truth where we needed to hold service on the flooring to optimize the variety of residents in our little area, “the declaration includes.
But Kim, who still has good friends within the group, and other previous members have actually informed CNN that guests are not enabled to use anything on their faces– even glasses– throughout prayer time.
“They were required just recently not to use masks although the entire corona(infection)break out was going on. They stated, no, it’s rude to God to have masks on, “Kim states.
Shincheonji has actually not returned CNN’s require remark.
A brand-new assistance network
Kim states he participated 2006 as a 19-year-old trainee who had actually simply gotten here in South Korea to study.
The South African didn’t have an assistance network and states he was rapidly” hired.”
At initially, he states his buddies did not expose they became part of Shincheonji. After 18 months, they presented him to a Bible research study group, and gradually brought him into their spiritual world.
“At that time, I was an expat,”he states. “These individuals became my neighborhood, my buddies I might depend on, (individuals)I might go out for supper, beverages(with).”
Kim’s native English-language abilities assisted him increase in the company. By 2011, he states he was the global affairs director and individual interpreter of creator and leader Lee Man-hee. He states his mother-in-law was Lee’s partner.
After investing practically every day with the male revered as a god-like figure within Shincheonji, Kim ended up being disappointed with the group and in 2017 he left.
The Promised Pastor
Shincheonji Church of Jesus, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony was developed on March 14, 1984, by Lee and is focused around the character of its creator.
Little is understood about his past.
According to the group’s main homepage, Lee was born upon September 15, 1931, in Cheongdo, in southern South Korea, and his birth place gets routine check outs from fans. Lee was”deeply spiritual”from an early age and hoped with his grandpa however had actually never ever been to a church.
The site greatly recommends that Lee is the “Promised Pastor “discussed in the Bible. The passage it highlights recommends that the Promised Pastor is the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ.
The group states it has about 245,000 members more than 31,000 of them from overseas.
An internal file from 2017, called the”International Missions Department status report,”supplied to CNN by previous members, stated the group has 8 branches in the United States, with the LA chapter being the biggest with more than 1,000 members, in addition to lots of chapters in China.
“The church of Shincheonji thinks Lee Man-hee, their leader, is the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ, “states Kim.
CNN has actually attempted to reach Lee Man-hee for remark, however numerous calls to the group have actually not been returned.
Across Korea, some churches have notifications on their doors stating Shincheonji members are not welcome, declaring they penetrate traditional churches to hire brand-new members, according to Tark Ji-il, a teacher at Busan Presbyterian University.
In the middle of January, as coronavirus took hold in main China, countless Shincheonji members put together for a yearly event in Gwacheon, where the group is headquartered, near Seoul.
Then, in between January 31 and February 2, an unidentified variety of members came together for the funeral service of the creator’s sibling. Regional media reports that prior to his death on January 31, he was hospitalized at Cheongdo Daenam Hospital, near Daegu, the city at the heart of South Korea’s break out.
Numerous verified coronavirus cases and deaths have actually because been tape-recorded from the very same medical facility.
Shincheonji wasn’t linked to the coronavirus break out till South Korea reported its 31st case on February 18. The client, a 61-year-old South Korean lady, had no previous abroad travel history or contact with other verified cases.
A cluster of infections followed. By February 20, the nationwide tally had actually increased from 31 to 156 and the very first death was reported.
While tracing the motions of the 31st client, the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified a link in between the brand-new clients: case number 31 had actually participated in a Shincheonji service with hundreds others in Daegu, a city of 2.4 million individuals about 280 kilometers(174 miles)south of Seoul.
Once the link to the spiritual group was developed, authorities chose to quarantine all guests of the fulfilling the 31st case had actually gone to.
Spokesperson Simon Kim stated in a tape-recorded declaration:”This is an illness that came from China and infected South Korea. We are genuinely advising everybody acknowledge that the Shincheonji Church and its fans are the greatest victims of Covid-19, and avoid hate and groundless attack. “
Stopping the spread
In South Korea, authorities have actually bought all of the group’s centers to close. Shincheonji states it has near 1,100 structures and is sanitizing them to attempt to stem the spread of the infection.
On February 24, South Korea’s Gyeonggi provincial guv, Lee Jae-myung, stated in a radio interview with Korean station TBS, that the Shincheonji group had not at first complied with authorities as guaranteed. The group has 239 places in Gyeonggi province, however just 100 of the addresses noted showed to be right.
On February 26, Chairman Lee Man-hee published a declaration on the main Shincheonji site stating that the group has actually been “actively complying with the South Korean federal government to avoid the infection from spreading out additional”and they chose to turn over the list of the entire parish and examine with everybody consisting of the students on the condition that the federal government protect the personal details.
On the very same day, Gyeonggi Provincial federal government stated 210 Shincheonji members had actually consented to call 33,000 fellow members to inquire about signs, as Shincheonji members typically do not address calls from nonmembers.