[BREAK NEWS]: Pursuing the Truth Behind the Distortion of JMS Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok’s Sexual Assault Case

This is an English translation of the original 2023/04/27 Break News article, which can be found here.

[Dispute & Clarify – Part 2] The full story behind the arrest of JMS Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok

The leader of the Christian Gospel Mission (CGM), also known as JMS (Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok), was arrested in 2008. However, he faced a situation where he was arrested again in October 2022. Why was he arrested? One day, women who claimed to have been victims of sexual assault held a press conference. At that time, the world perceived him, who was accused of rape, as a pseudo-religious leader (according to how several broadcasters had illuminated the case in their current affairs programs). Regarding this, a public relations official of the CGM said, “The media hastily spread the idea that women have been harmed by writing articles without filtering or properly checking the information for accuracy. The media did not allow CGM to make any counter arguments. Additionally, women filed complaints, and the police and prosecutors took a hard line that led to arrests and prosecutions. The judges who listened to the public opinion turned away from the principle of presumption of innocence and instead branded him as a criminal. The accused filed a civil and criminal lawsuit against illegality such as biased reporting and manipulation of the media, and won the case. However, after the arrest, no one paid attention to it.” Let’s trace the reality of the arrest of JMS Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok.

▲Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok preaching a sermon   ©Break News

Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok (78 years old) of the CGM was arrested for sexual assault in 2008. Because of this, he was shunned as the leader of a cult. However, in October 2022, he was arrested again. This arrest differs from his first arrest in the fact that the informant in this case was listed as a university professor. In addition, the case of Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok was broadcast on Netflix, an OTT service with a global audience (Translator’s note: Over-the-Top is technology that streams online content to consumers on-demand), rather than being reported by domestic media outlets. The person who claimed to be the second in charge in JMS also testified that Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok was guilty. 

A public relations official from the CGM said, “Still, the accusers were unable to present proper evidence during the trial. It is a situation that is consistent with appealing to the sensibilities of the judiciary.” He said, “Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok has denied the offense and pleaded not guilty.”

CGM’s position 

The CGM recently announced a statement after seeing a report on JMS from a broadcasting company. Attached to this statement are actual data, such as the fact that a broadcaster had used fabrication to criticize the CGM from 20 years ago, the court ruling following it, the fact that false informant A had asked for money, and the facts of a sham trial that was without evidence. What are the issues with broadcasters, whistleblowers, complainants, and distortion and editing problems of broadcasters? The following is based on the press release issued by the CGM.

 Problems with the broadcasting company:

CGM said, “In 1999 and 2002, the broadcasting stations were found to have reported fabricated and obscene broadcasts about [CGM], and on August 2, 2005, the court issued a decision to recommend reconciliation. Afterwards, the broadcaster paid damages to the CGM for violating that decision.”

 Problems with the informant:

The court ruled that the broadcasting company should not report on the basis of informant A. Nevertheless, this broadcaster produced and made a broadcast based on information provided by informant A. In connection with this incident, informant A confessed that Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok was innocent through several letters of apology and statements of reflection. At that time, it was also a fact that he had asked for a large sum of money. Informant A claimed, “More than 10,000 people were sexually assaulted by Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok.” However, until now, no one has presented substantial evidence such as DNA extraction.

▲ The court ruled that the broadcaster should not report based on informant A. The Court’s Decision on Reconciliation Recommendation against Broadcasting Company A (2004). ©Break News

Problems with the plaintiff:

The court proceeded with the trial based only on the statements of the plaintiffs and sentenced him to 10 years in prison. Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok, who is under arrest, is currently undergoing a similar trial as in the past. Some media and YouTubers are reporting their suspicions of this problem. The court ruled not to broadcast based on reports from Mr. A, the informant of the broadcasting company. Nevertheless, the broadcaster produced and broadcast a program based on the information provided by informant A. The only physical evidence of the accuser M claiming damage is an audio file. It was an inadmissible copy. Regarding this file, the National Institute of Scientific Investigation concluded, “The audio recording for this case has a file structure that we have never seen before. This file format is different from the reference file that was collected from the type of iPhone used by the complainant, so it is necessary to additionally compare and verify the format of a reference file obtained under the same conditions and recording method as per the ‘cell phone information’ above.” In other words, it was determined that “the [file’s] authenticity cannot be confirmed.” The complainant stated, “I sold my cell phone containing the original audio recording.” 

In 2006, the bodies of the women who claimed to have been victims of sexual assault were examined at the hospital, but no trace of assault was found, and the trial carried on without evidence.

▲ Informant A confessed that Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok was innocent through several apology letters and letters of apology in connection with the case. A letter of apology was sent to the church by Mr. A, who had been criticizing the CGM. This letter of reflection contains an apology and self-reflection for raising the issue of sexual assault while pointing at Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok.    ©Break News

Problems with complainant M: 

One of the accusers in this case, Ms. M, claimed that “she was harmed 17 times from 2018 to 2021 in a state where she was incapacitated.” However, she went to university in Seoul, met her boyfriend, and worked as an advertising model in Japan, Hong Kong, and Korea. She was free to contact outsiders and live her social life. The handwritten diary written between February and March 2020, the period in which complainant M claims to have suffered harm, casts doubt on the credibility of her statement. M said in her diary that she did not understand spiritual love, and she expressed regret that she did not receive the opposite sex love she wanted from Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok. Her diary contains content such as “I don’t live together with Teacher (Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok) all the time, and we don’t even live together like lovers. How can this will of love be fulfilled?” Regarding this, CGM stated, “Looking at M’s life, it is not convincing to claim that she had suffered harm while being incapacitated.”


 Distortion and editing problems of broadcasting companies:  

The accuser’s audio recording that was broadcast in the Netflix documentary “In the Name of God: A Holy Betrayal” was analyzed by the US-affiliated reputable audio analysis company MuScene Voice Forensics Laboratory. As a result of the first analysis, it was judged that “it cannot be ruled out that editing or voice manipulation was done” and “it is questionable whether the complainant’s audio file is real.” This recording is currently undergoing detailed analysis. In the past, a broadcasting station reported a sermon video of Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok, changing the sermon content from “one of ten” to “one woman.” A broadcaster reported that Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok had brainwashed others into believing that he was God. However, the explanation of “become a god as a human being” in the sermon is based on the words of the Bible: “He who receives the word of God is a god.” 

▲ Members of the CGM worship outdoors in Wolmyeongdong, Seokmak-ri, Jinsan-myeon, Geumsan-gun, Chungcheongnam-do.  ©Break News

Did he actually rape 10,000 people?

Recently, a deviant article about Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok of CGM was reported, and articles countering this were also produced and reported one after another. In particular, suspicion was raised, and people wondered, “Is it really true or was it fabricated” that JMS Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok contacted the females?

First of all, there is an issue regarding the number of female contacts who are said to have been sexually assaulted. But meanwhile, several media outlets have already reported that “more than 10,000 people have been sexually assaulted.” The claim that “more than 10,000 people have been sexually assaulted” has already been reported by the global media, recognized as fact, and broadcast.

However, among controversial media reports, there is always doubt about whether all the reported content is true or whether the report itself is true. This is because harsh claims that are not proven by facts are also published and embedded in the claims of the reporters. So I came to the conclusion that not all the facts in the articles are true. All of the reports related to JMS Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok were misconstrued as true, and there was also content that is not 100% true. The part saying “more than 10,000 people were sexually assaulted” by Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok of JMS is highly likely to be false, untrue. This is because in the process of being written as an article, unverified facts were packaged and reported as an individual’s claim.

I pondered over this issue with common sense and will try to publicize my personal opinion. Reports related to JMS Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok are all wrapped up as facts, though they are not the truth. The phrase “more than 10,000 people were sexually assaulted” by Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok of JMS is in line with saying, “Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok of JMS raped more than 10,000 people.” Though this may sound like a fact, it is not 100% true. This is a true fact. 

This is because all articles are covered and written based on common sense. Rape more than 10,000 people? Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok is also human. He is by no means a god who believes in the ability to control humans. He is just a human being. But how can he, a mere human, be like that? The claim (content) of “raping more than 10,000 people” alleged in the article is not 100% true, even if it is stated as fact in the article. It is fiction.

As far as I’m aware, the total number of certified members of the CGM is less than 10,000. Even in the statistics of church members that have been announced by the state’s religious organizations, such numbers have never been announced. If that’s not the case, then does that mean he’s been sexually assaulting people in the general public, not just members of his religious organization, CGM? And since he is also human, “raping more than 10,000 people” cannot be true at all. Such claims are bogus.

Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok of JMS has been in and out of prison. If he raped that many people, he should have raped at least 1,000 people in prison. However, prison is a facility where it is impossible to sexually assault women.

In the case of US media, when reporting sexual assault cases, the identities of the perpetrator(s) and victim(s) are disclosed. They broadcast the report of incidents accurately. In American terms, if “Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok raped 10,000 people,” then a “victims list” of the 10,000 sexual assault victims, including the names, dates, locations, etc., should be drawn up at the investigation stage, and the list should be handed over to the court.”

But what does it mean that the names of the victims have not been clearly identified in Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok’s sexual assault case? If this case were true, then the list of 10,000 people who were sexually assaulted by Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok should be made public.

Regarding this, the CGM said in a press release dated April 22 (2023), “Even though the mass media is trying to deceive the public, fabricated reports are bound to be exposed. Due to the reports in 1999 and 2002, it is a fact that media company A has already paid damages to CGM. Media company B’s report has been in litigation for four years, but the media company has filed an application for avoidance of the trial and is toying with the media.” He pointed out that “while producing a recent broadcast, they broke into CGM’s church without permission and filmed it illegally.”

Regarding Mr. A, who took the lead in reporting CGM’s “corruption,” he mentioned: “I/We have several pieces of evidence, including a letter of apology he had sent to Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok and a transcript of his request for money. More than 10,000 people claim to have been sexually assaulted, but so far, no one has presented tangible evidence such as DNA extraction.” He then emphasized, “Even for the 10-year sentence of Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok in 2009, there was no evidence that the victims had been victimized, and one of the women victims even made a declaration of conscience that she had falsely accused him.” In the recent case as well, Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok was confirmed, through video [evidence], to have been doing other things at the time of the accuser’s alleged assaults. The audio recording submitted by one of the women is also a copy, not the original file. An analysis by the National Institute of Scientific Investigation concluded that the file format has never been seen before and the file structure is different from the reference file collected from the type of iPhone used by the complainant.”

There is such a huge gap between the reality and the truth in the reports related to JMS Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok. Some media reports about “JMS Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok raping more than 10,000 people” have already spread around the world. This content is fictional, but it is perceived as fact. Korea is a democratic country that is said to be the best in the world. It is by no means a country so clumsy that one individual could sexually assault 10,000 people.

Going forward, the CGM is expected to focus its efforts on correcting untrue fictional content related to the church’s founder, Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok. The truth related to this case will be clearly revealed one day. Only then will the image of Korea, which the world perceives as strange due to JMS Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok, be washed clean. At least a truthful ruling by the court is required to get rid of the anti-Korean syndrome that promotes hatred towards Koreans.

▲ The CGM said, “We will make every effort to resolve the injustice of Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok and us.” The photo of Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok was taken during a sermon.  ©Break news
“Jeong Myeong Seok, I want to resolve the injustice.”

On May 17, 2010, the author published a report titled, “Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok’s Natural Temple, ‘The Impressive Temple’” in the newspaper (Break News) on May 17, 2010. It was an article covering the Natural Temple in Jinsan-myeon, Geumsan-gun, Chungcheongnam-do, where the CGM headquarters is located. The article stated, “Last May 15 was Teacher’s Day, and the CGM held a Teacher’s Day thanksgiving event at the Natural Temple in Wolmyeongdong, Seokmak-ri, Jinsan-myeon, Geumsan-gun, Chungcheongnam-do. To the members of this church, ‘teacher’ means ‘Jesus who saved us with a love greater than death’ and ‘teacher (Jeong Myeong Seok) who led us—who were blinded by the world’s greed—to Jesus’ love.’ Wolmyeongdong, Seokmak-ri, Jinsan-myeon, Geumsan-gun, Chungcheongnam-do, is the birthplace of Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok. The world mission headquarters of the CGM is located here. And there is a well decorated outdoor sanctuary that is 400,000 pyeong in size, which is hard to find in general Christian churches.”

Regarding the current situation, an official from the CGM said, “We have emphasized living a moral life more than any other religious organization, and we are striving to become sound and exemplary members of society who keep and manage our bodies and environment cleanly, and who practice love for our neighbors according to the teachings of Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok. Tens of thousands of CGM members around the world are being witch-hunted due to fake media news that form a distorted public opinion by reporting the accusers’ claims without fact-checking, and they cannot hide their feelings of injustice and indignation. We will do our best to resolve the injustice of Pastor Jeong Myeong Seok and us.” 

[Afterword] Whoever lives in this world, if there is a human rights violation, the right to be defended is guaranteed. moonilsuk@naver.com

The author, Moon Il-suk, is a poet. He is the publisher of this magazine. He is also a reportage writer. His representative book is Secret Memoirs of the Central Intelligence Agency (3 volumes in total).

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