Young women in Australia are being actively recruited to be “spiritual wives” of a South Korean cult leader using modeling classes and bible studies as fronts.
Members of the notorious Korean group Jesus Morning Star (JMS) have been prowling universities and shopping malls in Australia’s major cities such as Canberra, Sydney, and Melbourne to lure women into joining their group, reports Daily Mail.
The cult allegedly used mind conditioning techniques to influence the members into performing sexual acts with its founder Jung Myung-seok, a convicted rapist serving his prison sentence in South Korea. Myung-seok, who was jailed for the rape and molestation of cult members, is set to end his 10-year sentence next year.
The group, also known as Providence, encourages members to sever relationship ties with families in order to gain complete influence.
In an interview with Daily Mail Australia, a former member identified only as “Elizabeth” shared how she was recruited five years ago.
“I was shopping inside the Canberra Centre in April 2011. A Korean woman came over and said she was holding a Christian art show. It looked good so I thought I would check it out,” Elizabeth recounted.
A few months later, she moved in with the group’s local leader where she was allegedly subjected to indoctrination processes that focused on depicting its leader as a Jesus-like messiah.
“We had to wake up at 3 a.m. everyday to pray because they said this brought us closer to god. It’s a mind control technique: when you’re deprived of sleep you can’t critically think,” Elizabeth said. “They encouraged us to write letters to him like he was our lover. He wrote sexually explicit replies saying things like ‘your white skin arouses me,’ or ‘your vagina would look pretty.'”
She was eventually flown to Seoul to see the cult leader in prison where she and other members spent 15 minutes with him.
“He blew kisses at us and knew all our names and how we looked from photos in his cell. It was very surreal,” she said.
Later on she was advised to recruit members by inviting women to join fake fashion classes. She was only able to escape after she was hospitalized with an eating disorder due to her 18-month ordeal.
Another former member who was recruited inside the University of Melbourne campus in 2014, said she was initially shocked by the group’s teachings, particularly about how Adolf Hitler was portrayed as God’s vessel who carried out his punishments.
Like Elizabeth, she too was brainwashed into following only the group’s doctrines.
“They said the holocaust was his mark of atonement because Jewish people killed Jesus. They told us Hitler was a vessel from god,” she said.
“I started recruiting for more members. I was told to look for virgins, and encouraged new members to wear white as much as possible to show Jung their purity.”
Upon noticing her behavioral changes, her parents managed to do an intervention and with the help of a cult expert, she was deprogrammed from her recently adopted beliefs.
Meanwhile in Sydney, a father made a shocking discovery when he learned that his daughter was recruited in her school and brainwashed to move to Western Australia.
“I only learned she had moved there when I saw her on one of their sites. It took a long time to pieces together the reality she had been told to move by the group.”
He was unable to seek police assistance to retrieve his daughter as she is now of legal age.
“I’m powerless to find her. I get a generic email from her every couple of months but aside from that we have no contact,” he said.
Both University of Melbourne and Sydney University have expressed through their representatives that the schools were not aware of the cult and its practices.
Australian lecturer Peter Daley, who has spent years investigating the group and its operations, has devoted his time exposing their devious practices on his website.
“JMS is dangerous beyond assaults from the leader. The sleep deprivation and the stress caused when members cut ties with their family is incredibly damaging to member’s health,” said Daley.
“And Jung is due out next year with no signs of rehabilitation. The numbers of girls that have visited him in jail suggest he is not going to change his ways any time soon.”
He believes that the cult is still actively recruiting in universities and other public places in some Australian cities and has called on university administrators to do more in raising public awareness and educating its students about the dangers of joining the cult.
“I think they have a duty of care to educate students about the dangers of the group. Many former members were recruited on their university campus.”