South Korea’s top prosecutor ordered prosecutors in the trial of Jeong Myeong-seok, the leader of a religious movement called the Jesus Morning Star (JMS), to make sure he is punished for his past actions.
South Korean Prosecutor-General Lee One-seok called for strict punishment for Jeong, who has been behind bars since his arrest on rape and molestation charges in October 2022, after being briefed by the Daejeon District Prosecutors’ Office on Jung’s trial on Monday.
Lee also stressed the importance of protecting and supporting the victims.
Lee’s order came days after Netflix premiered “In the Name of God: A Holy Betrayal,” a documentary in which Jeong was one of the subjects.
The eight-part Netflix documentary looks into four self-proclaimed Korean prophets who led cult-like religious movements in South Korea.
In a 2017 report, ABC Australia noted that JSM, which was founded in South Korea in 1978 but also set up a branch in Australia in 1997, would often target tall, attractive women to become Jeong’s spiritual brides.
The victims were reportedly required to cut ties with the outside world and live in a communal home with other female victims, who were encouraged to have sexual intercourse with Jeong to purify them.
Jeong fled South Korea after being accused of rape in 1999. He was arrested in 2008 and imprisoned for 10 years for raping three female followers while overseas between 2003 and 2006. He was released in February 2018.
Peter Daley, an Australian, provided insider details to ABC Australia in 2017, revealing that the cult invited him to a function at their compound.
Daley, who came to South Korea to teach English in 2003, revealed that, while Jeong was not present at the gathering, his brother was there in his place.
The church seemed to really put importance in beautiful women. The leader wasn’t there… but his brother was there and he was surrounded by an entourage of women that looked like they had just stepped out of a magazine. I thought this is strange for a church to focus on.
He also revealed the details of the videos he unearthed, showing four or five naked women dancing and chanting “Seonsaengnim [teacher], we love you!”
Another scene also depicts a woman licking a photo of the cult leader before placing it on her crotch, the report described.
Jeong was arrested in October 2022 on charges for the “quasi-rape” of two female followers from Hong Kong and Australia.
In Korean law, “quasi-rape” is defined as sexual intercourse that occurs when a person is unconscious or unable to resist.
Netflix and South Korean broadcasting company MBC, which also served as the documentary’s producer, won the injunction filed against them by JSM requesting the networks halt the airing of the series.
One of the victims, who identified herself as Olivia, told News.com.au following Jeong’s arrest last year that the cult leader sexually assaulted her when they visited the group’s headquarters in Wolmyeongdong, located in South Korea’s Chungnam province, in 2018, the year he was released.
Olivia, a former member of the cult from Melbourne, revealed that she was 27 at the time of the incident, while Jeong was 73.
In her account, Olivia said Jeong indecently touched her twice and sexually touched her three times during a trip funded by the church and attended by overseas followers in July 2018. She was also allegedly made to undress in front of the cult leader and wear an outfit he provided. Olivia recounted that he touched her genitalia during that moment.
“[They] told me that this is my blessing, he [Jeong] is my spiritual husband, then he’s my physical husband, so why can’t he do that [sexual acts]? That’s what a normal wife and husband do, I should feel blessed and thankful,” Olivia said members told her when she tried to raise awareness of the situation.
Olivia also recalled two other incidents, one that occurred in a man-made tunnel in Wolmyeongdong called “The Cave” and another at an undisclosed location, where she was given a pair of pajamas and, as she was trying them on, he knelt and kissed her genitalia.
The victim said Jeong sexually assaulted her two more times before she left South Korea.