Jung Myung Seok, 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 saying that Jung Myung Seok’s trial was unfair. Some are saying there should be a retrial.
A monthly magazine, Civil Government, published an article in its February issue, under the title, JMS (CGM) President Jung Myung Seok’s Cross: Why and for Whom? 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.
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 he has been frequenting police stations since 1995.
Reporter digs into the truth behind accusations against Jung Myung Seok
In the article, Cha reports the following.
“Ever since the media broadcast about this religious organization, I’ve been going in person 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 (Media A) aired the so-called “Ms Hwang abduction scandal.” They claimed some leaders of the religious organization kidnapped Hwang, 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?” But I had verified the investigation details from the Chunan police station. So I told him that I wrote the article 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. He said he didn’t feel like meeting me and was returning home.
After that, he just hung up on me. I called him later but he didn’t answer my calls.
Media A distorts facts
The second problem that Cha raises is the distorted facts in Media A’s reporting. Cha discloses the following: A Media A broadcast said, “President Jung Myung Seok is a leader who has sexual problems.”
Media A took an excerpt from a 1995 Sunday sermon, “Life of Thanksgiving.” And they modulated Jung Myung Seok’s voice, so when he says, “The tithe of life—evangelize one person out of ten,” that viewers could not clearly understand what he was saying. Then the Media added a subtitle that read, “one woman,” when they aired their video. This quote inevitably made the viewers think Jung Myung Seok was a leader with sexual problems.
Furthermore, when the Media aired the footage of the services or events of the organization, they edited the scenes. Even though the original video contained males and females, the edited version showed only females. Because of this, Media A gave the impression that Jung was a religious leader who dealt only with females.
The court deems Media A’s biased report as illegal
The third point Cha brings up is the outcome of Media A’s biased report. The court found their report 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.
But journalists did not make the court’s decision acknowledging the media’s errors and biased widely known to viewers. The media kept branding Jung Myung Seok as a criminal because of public opinion. So he continued to be “cut to pieces at the chopping block of the press.”
Informers true motivation was greed
Cha’s fourth point differs from other reports. It is regarding the press conference held with the four women who claimed Jung victimized them sexually. Cha reveals: “On April 18, 2006, ‘the informer’ held a press conference. And he made the four women 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 the informer has not harassed 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.’
Women lie in court about rape
The fifth reason why Cha believes that the trial of Jung Myung Seok 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 went to 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 one of the plaintiffs gave 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 Jung had sexually assaulted her 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 Jung Myung Seok did not sexually assault me. Jung did not rape or sexually assault Plaintiff D who filed the lawsuit with me either. The informer incited us so we filed a false suit and have been giving false testimonies until now.’”
Informer later apologies to Jung Myung Seok
As the sixth reason, Cha brings up a new evidence that could become a reason for a retrial on Jung Myung Seok’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 back-stabbed 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 Jung Myung Seok.”
Reporter calls for a retrial of Jung Myung Seok’s case
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 Jung Myung Seok 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 [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 they met his demands, he would have withdrawn legal action using the law of ‘no punishment against the victim’s intent.’”
Will the judges consider the truth?
As of today February 15, a notice has appeared on an internet site the informer used to post accusations against Jung Myung Seok. It says that he will close the “anti-JMS website” and cancel its web domain.
In the event Jung Myung Seok’s side files a motion for retrial based on the new evidences or material that could reverse the previous finding, seeking acquittal, I expect that this case involving 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)