The Impact of Fake News on Jung Myung Seok and Providence
Since the U.S. Presidential elections in 2016, the world came to understand more about how prevalent and detrimental ‘fake news’ is. But fake news did not just come into existence in 2016.
What is Fake News?
News that is untrue, but reported as if it is true with accompanying ‘evidences’, such as edited pictures. (Below is an example of fake images that accompanied fake news regarding Kim Jung Un)
So what if there is Fake News?
Fake news spreads even faster than real news because it is typically “viral” and sensationalistic, and deceives the public to believe lies. Fake news preys on the gullibility and emotions of the masses. Because of the high levels of readership of such “viral” news, other news agencies quickly rebroadcast the news after picking it up from the original source. People, likewise, simply share the news via social networks without performing any “fact-checking.” As such, fake news greatly affects public opinion and quickly translates to real world consequences.
One famous example is the fake news about “Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring” that caused an armed man to barge into and open fire in a pizza parlor.
Fake news is nothing new. The media, always carrying an agenda, manipulated and fabricated stories in favor of its agendas. Harmful fake news was produced in 1999 by Mr Kim by the Seoul Broadcasting System about Pastor Jung Myung Seok’s “sexual misconduct”. It took 11 years before the Korean Court ruled that the news was “unreliable” and should not have been broadcasted. The broadcast had distorted videos of Pastor Jung’s sermon and his interaction with members. (Reference News Article)
After the broadcasting, public opinion of Pastor Jung and the Christian Gospel Mission (Providence) became extremely negative, and Pastor Jung was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment (in 2009) based purely on verbal testimonies and an unfair trial.
The fake news about Pastor Jung continued to spread widely and people such as Peter Daley even took these as “proof” against Pastor Jung and made himself a reputation for spreading false information that he himself has distorted, and also, made up. As a result, tens of thousands of Providence members become subject to ridicule and persecutions at home, work and school.
Why do people create fake news?
It is a well known fact that fake news generates income for the writers and news agencies. Fake news writers even admit earning thousands of dollars monthly from this. (See one example)
In the case of Pastor Jung, Mr Kim and EXODUS threatened the release of fake news in order to extort millions of dollars from Pastor Jung and Christian Gospel Mission (CGM). When Pastor Jung refused to give in, Mr Kim released the “news” and sparked a wave of media allegations in 1999 that eventually led to Pastor Jung’s arrest and conviction. (Reference News Article)
After failing to extort $20 million from Pastor Jung in 1999, Mr Kim tried again to extort a smaller sum of from Pastor Jung in 2011. Even though Pastor Jung was already in prison, Mr Kim threatened the release of an obscene video that allegedly came from “internal sources”. Once again, Pastor Jung and CGM refused to give in, and Mr Kim held a press conference while releasing the video. This sparked another flurry of investigations but the Korean court ruled that the “evidence” was fake, and dismissed all the charges. (Reference News Article 1 | Reference News Article 2)
2) To smear someone else’s reputation and be the hero
An owner of a fake news empire, Paul Horner, opines how fake news helped Donald Trump win the election. Fake news smeared Clinton’s reputation while improving Trump’s own reputation.
“Honestly, people are definitely dumber. They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore — I mean, that’s how Trump got elected. He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn’t care because they’d already accepted it. It’s real scary. I’ve never seen anything like it.” (Reference News Article)
In South Korea, ex-UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon decided not to join in the Presidential Elections because other candidates had launched “fake news campaigns” to smear his reputation.
Ban said, “For the past three weeks, I have devoted everything I had, but my genuine patriotism and passion were damaged by rumors and fake news. I, my family and the U.N. have been greatly hurt. . . . I will give up my pure aspiration to achieve a change in politics under my leadership and unify the country.” (Reference News Article)
Peter Daley’s Campaign Against Providence
Pastor Jung’s reputation has also been smeared by fake news campaigns in South Korea and all over the world. A more recent example is Peter Daley’s campaign against Pastor Jung in english-speaking parts of the world like Australia.
Peter Daley, self-professed in his own video to be motivated by revenge, began creating slanderous material about Pastor Jung and made it his personal crusade to distribute these to numerous news agencies. He portrays himself to be protecting and helping the “brainwashed cult members”, without realizing that his actions have in fact victimized thousands of believers who have to live under public ridicule for their faith.
At the expense of Pastor Jung’s reputation and the lives of thousands of members, Peter Daley receives media publicity and is portrayed as an “expert” about cults. He receives praise from people who call him “brave”, people who did not fact check about Peter Daley’s motivations and his past.
As a member of CGM, I write from a perspective of being a direct victim of fake news, alongside other members and Pastor Jung.
Therefore, in assessing Pastor Jung and CGM, my sincere appeal to readers is to 1) perform detailed fact checks from reliable sources and 2) take a pause to read/listen to both sides (with an open heart). People who read the negative articles or explore Peter Daley’s websites know someone in Providence- whether it be a family member, a colleague or a friend. They need to listen to and trust the person they know, instead of the internet, the gossip and Peter Daley, whose only intent is to harm Providence and its members, without any understanding of it.
[Given the numerous amounts of negative media out there, large amounts of which are in korean, we understand that this is not an easy task to perform fact checking. As such, CGM has translated many of these news that present the lesser known published perspectives about CGM on its website, while linking to the original news sources.]
The writer is a father, a husband, a Providence member residing in the United States of America.