Japanese trio from Unification Church set themselves on fire near 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.