South Korean cult member may have gotten illegal visa

Kyodo

A senior member of the South Korean cult Setsuri, which has drawn several allegations of rape, is suspected of illegally obtaining a resident visa with the help of two Japanese, sources said.

The 44-year-old South Korean woman lives in the city of Chiba, the sources said Tuesday, noting Chiba Prefectural Police are considering questioning her on suspicion of violating immigration law.

South Korean authorities have put the group’s founder, Jung Myung Seok, 61, on an international wanted list on rape charges. Japanese authorities are also expected to investigate the organization.

The sources said two Japanese men are believed to have helped the woman illegally obtain her visa. The woman is also suspected of putting false information in her alien registration certificate.

Setsuri, or providence, was established in South Korea around 1980 and became active in Japan around 1987. It is estimated to have more than 2,000 followers in Japan, most of them students and other young people.

The cult has no headquarters in Japan and uses apartments as its offices. It usually passes itself off as a sports, music or cheerleading squad on campuses as well as groups of models.

Several senior members based in Japan are believed to have introduced female followers to Jung and taken them to his hideouts on several occasions.

Jung is said to have raped the women, pretending to conduct breast cancer checks on them in many cases.

The victims are considering filing criminal complaints against Jung, accusing him of second-degree rape, because they were hypnotized when the incidents occurred.

The South Korean weekly Sisa Journal reported Tuesday that Setsuri followers include staff in the Blue House presidential office and other key state organizations.

The group, which is also known as JMS, has followers in the prosecutors office, Presidential Security Service and National Intelligence Service, the report said.

The report was based on Setsuri internal documents, which were provided by former Jung aides to Exodus, a group that has been helping followers escape the cult.

The report also said the man who was arrested in May in connection with a group assault on a member of Exodus worked at the Presidential Security Service. It said he previously was Jung’s bodyguard.