• Kyodo


A lawyer filed a criminal complaint with police Thursday against a South Korean woman he says is in charge of the activities in Japan of the South Korean cult Setsuri, or Providence, whose founder allegedly raped female members in Japan.

Lawyer Hiroshi Watanabe represents Japanese former members of Setsuri and alleges the 44-year-old woman, who lives in Chiba, unlawfully obtained a visa from Japanese authorities and conducted missionary work and other activities outside the visa’s scope.

Chiba police are expected to launch a criminal probe upon receiving the complaint.

The woman is also suspected of abetting assaults allegedly committed by Setsuri founder Jung Myung Seok, 61, who is wanted by South Korean authorities on rape charges, by sending many female followers to him, the lawyer said.

Watanabe said the woman obtained permission to stay in Japan by falsely declaring in March 2000 to immigration authorities in Chiba that she was employed by a Japanese company as a design planner, while she in fact worked for the cult.

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

The cult has no headquarters in Japan and uses apartment buildings as its offices. It allegedly recruits members on campuses by passing itself off as a sports, music or cheerleading club, or a club for would-be fashion models, Watanabe said in late July.

Several senior members of the cult in Japan are believed to have introduced female followers to Jung and taken them to him on several occasions. Jung raped women after telling them he would check them for breast cancer, Watanabe alleged.

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