Reporter calls for a retrial of Jung Myung Seok’s Case
President JungMyungSeok, founder of Christian Gospel Mission (CGM), is currently in prison. His ten-year sentence was the decision of the Supreme Court which upheld the decision of the lower court.
Now there are voices that JungMyungSeok’s trial was unfair and should be retried.
A monthly magazine, Civil Government, published an article in its February issue, under the title, “Why is JMS (CGM)’s President JungMyungSeok carrying the cross?” and listed the problems of his trials, item by item.
In the article, Cha Jin Soo reports on the original incident that led to the case at hand.
The motivation to write the article was not something that just came along recently. Cha is an active journalist who has been following this case for the past eleven years and has been frequenting police stations since 1995.
In the article, Cha reports the following:
Ever since the media began broadcasting about this religious organization, I have been going to the scene to cover the news.
In 1999, there was intense public interest in the organization because of the ongoing media coverage.
At that time, a certain broadcasting company (A Media) aired the so-called, ‘Ms Whang abduction scandal,’ claiming that some leaders of the religious organization kidnapped Whang, one of the church members. What I learned from the police, however, indicated otherwise: it was not abduction, but rather a “simple assault case.”
Assault and kidnapping are two very different charges with very different penalties. After verifying the facts, I wrote an article in Police Journal.
Then a person whom I will heretofore refer to as “the informer” called me up. (He played the role of filing complaints on behalf of the plaintiffs behind the scenes. I didn’t know at that time how he was related to the case though.) He protested in a somewhat upset voice.
He complained, “Why did you describe a kidnapping case as a simple assault case?” Since I verified the investigation details from the Chunan police station, I explained that the article was written based on the facts. He and I agreed to meet in person to continue our conversation. But the informer did not show up.
When I called and asked, “Why aren’t you here?” he gave me an irresponsible and ridiculous reply saying that he just didn’t want to meet me and that he was returning home.
After that remark, he just hung up on me. I called him later but he didn’t answer my calls.
The second problem that Cha raises is the distorted facts in A Media’s reporting. Cha discloses the following: An A Media broadcast said, “President JungMyungSeok is a leader who has sexual problems.”
A Media took an excerpt from a 1995 Sunday sermon entitled, “Life of Thanksgiving.” The Media modulated President JungMyeongSeok’s voice in the part where he says, ‘The tithe of life—evangelize one person out of ten’ to make it difficult to clearly hear what he actually says. Then the Media added a subtitle that read, ‘one woman,’ when it was aired. This quote inevitably made the viewers think President JungMyungSeok to be a leader with sexual problems. Furthermore, when the Media aired the footage of the services or events of the organization, even though both males and females are shown in the original video, the Media edited the scenes so that only females would be visible. In this way, A Media gave the audience an impression that President JungMyungSeok was a religious leader who dealt only with females.
The third point Cha brings up is the outcome of A Media’s biased report, which was found to be legally wrongful at that time.
He indicated, “As to their biased report, the court eventually issued a decision of the advice of peaceful settlement.
The court ordered the following: 1) the media must not use one-sided material provided by the informer and others; 2) the media must inform the organization 48 hours before broadcasting; 3) the media must guarantee 5% of the broadcasting time to [the Church] so that their rebuttal will also be aired; 4) if these orders are violated, the media must pay damages in the amount of 30 million won for each violation.
The court decision acknowledging the media’s errors and biased reporting was not made widely known to viewers, while at the same time President JungMyungSeok—who was already branded a criminal by public opinion—continued to be “cut to pieces at the chopping block of the press.”
Cha’s fourth point that differs from other reports is regarding the press conference held with the four women who claimed to be sexually victimized. Cha reveals: “On April 18, 2006, ‘the informer’ held a press conference in which he made the four women who claimed to be sexually victimized speak. When the world was about to forget JMS, the conference refreshed viewers’ memory of them. The journalists wanted to hear the position of ‘the informer’ who declared that he was working for justice. But in that conference, something shocking was disclosed. Pastor Park XX, who was investigating the case in order to know its depth, told me, ‘Those who have not been harassed by the informer won’t understand how it is.’ He then added that the informer was demanding two billion won to drop the case. Upon hearing this, a reporter of ‘B Media’ figured that there was a problem with the press conference and stopped his coverage of the conference. Because of the action of the informer, other reporters who came to know that fact later also began doubting the credibility the informer who was leading ‘the anti-JMS.’
The fifth reason why Cha believes that the trial of President JungMyeongSeok went wrong is the part about the sexual assault. He writes: At that time, the informer publicly asserted that the sexual assault on those women was so severe and their wounds were so deep that they could hardly walk; they had a bloody discharge. But when the case was moved to the court, the attorneys of the defendant gave a different statement. They rebutted, saying, “The footage of the CCTV set at the scene shows the two women smiling—not like victims—and their walks don’t look uncomfortable at all.” Cha continues and highlights the testimony given by one of the plaintiffs to the court: “More than anything, we need to pay attention to the fact that one of these women, Plaintiff C, who filed the suit as co-plaintiffs and initially claimed that she was sexually assaulted declared that she committed perjury, and she withdrew her suit. Plaintiff C came to the court holding her mother’s hand. She reversed the statements that she had given to the police and the prosecutor’s office, and completely denied the assault allegations. Even though the court warned her, saying ‘If your testimony differs from the contents of the complaint, you could be penalized,’ C clearly said, ‘I’m fine even if I will be penalized. The truth is that I was not sexually assaulted. Plaintiff D who filed the suit with me wasn’t raped or sexually assaulted either at all. But incited by the informer, she filed a false suit and has given false testimonies until now.’”
As the sixth reason, Cha brings up a new evidence that could become a reason for a retrial on President JungMyungSeok’s case. He said, “In fact, on November 15, 1999, the informer wrote a letter of self-examination, in which he said, ‘President Jung, I deeply regret that I backstabbed you, defamed you by spreading scandals against you, and caused you a deep wound.’ He even had the letter authenticated before he sent it to the Church’s central office. He sent Mr. Jung two letters of apology on March 17 and on July 21, of 2005.
Parts of his letters read, ‘I apologize that I have defamed and insulted you until now out of misunderstanding,’ and ‘I apologize once again that for the past six years, I and the members of the group (which the informer founded) have misunderstood you, so we have slandered and insulted you.’ The letter was hand-written by ‘the informer’ himself, including his seal and photo.
Cha emphatically concludes in the article that he writes after having followed up this case, “If journalists measure religious activities with a non-religious ruler, they end up drawing a weird image. Likewise, the prosecution also should reflect on itself to see how faithful it was to the principle of presumption of innocence, which says, ‘Even if you may let go one hundred thieves, you must not unjustly convict one person.’” In addition, Cha pointed out, “To consider the closure of this case that had only ambiguous evidences and witnesses against—a severe punishment of ten year imprisonment, the court should reflect to see if the judgment of the residing judges also was clouded by their lack of understanding of religions and by the public opinions that were forcibly formed; it should examine the injustice done to President JungMyungSeok.”
In his concluding remark, Cha says, “As the testimonies in the courtroom reveal it to a great degree, since the circumstance was that the informer was demanding settlement money, it is necessary for the court to cool-headedly examine and investigate whether or not the informer deliberately created the case while controlling the plaintiffs and almost managing them behind the scene for the purpose of getting money.”
Reporter Cha analyzes the reason why the case involving President JungMyungSeok went off to a suspicious direction; he says, “Come to the point, it seems that [the informer] was taking advantage of the nature of the case (sexual assault), which complaint has to be filed by the victims; he managed those who claimed to be victims and prompted them to sue [President Jung]. Then, without letting them know, he demanded a big sum, two billion won. He might have planned to lead the case to an agreement, and, once his demand was met, they would have withdrawn the legal action, using the law of ‘no punishment against the victim’s intent.’”
As of today, on February 15, the internet site which has been used as the center of the informer’s accusation of President JungMyungSeok has a notice on its home page, which says that the ‘anti’ website will be closed and its domain also will be canceled.
In the event President JungMyungSeok’s side files a motion for retrial based on the new evidences or material that could reverse the previous finding, seeking acquittal, it is expected that this case involving President Jung, a religious leader—who founded and has led a religion according to the Constitution that warrants the freedom of religion—may be placed at a stage where it seeks a new ruling through a retrial.
However, since the prosecutor’s office and the court stand behind the accusations of the plaintiffs and the informer, with the court ruling in their favor, it is unknown whether this case can be reversed at retrial.
Jesus, the founder of Christianity, however, also was crucified after an unjust trial. Considering what Cha has disclosed based on the facts and evidences that he has tenaciously collected through his eleven-year long follow-up coverage, we may need to remember the death of Jesus.
The article posted at: February 15, 2010 [17:25:00)
The english translation and pictures are released for public use under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.