SEOUL – Two Japanese followers of the Unification Church were in critical condition Thursday and the fate of another was unknown after they apparently set themselves on fire at a church-run complex near Seoul, Yonhap News Agency reported, citing police, who quoted a witness as saying only one of them started the blaze.
The self-immolations, involving two women and a man, occurred at a senior citizens community east of Seoul a day before the first anniversary of the death of the Unification Church’s founder, the Rev. Moon Sun-myung, according to the lunar calendar, the report said.
It said the exact identity of the Japanese nationals had not yet been verified, with one identified only as a 53-year-old woman.
Of the three, two were hospitalized in critical condition with second- and third-degree burns. The report did not mention the condition of the third person.
It said the incident happened at Cheongshim, a church-run village in Gapyeong County, Gyeonggi province, which is considered the mecca of the Unification Church, with church offices and church-run institutions, including schools and hospitals, located there.
“A witness said one of the women poured paint thinner on herself and her two companions before lighting a fire,” a police officer at the site was quoted by Yonhap as saying.
Police said they are talking to witnesses and trying to determine why the three set themselves on fire.