[Part 1] Private Institution Analysis, “Eye of the Storm”: Jung Myung-seok Case “Audio Recording” Evidence Tampering

* The original article can be found here.

Moon Il-Seok | Written on May 31, 2024

The appellate trial of Pastor Jung Myung-seok’s quasi-rape case has tilted towards allegations of evidence tampering, similar to the 2013 NIS (National Intelligence Service) espionage fabrication case involving a Seoul public official. Given that the plaintiff is a foreigner, this has become a highly notable trial attracting international attention.

Pastor Jeong Myeong-seok, who founded the Christian Gospel Mission Church (commonly known as JMS).  ©Break News

In a press release on May 31, the Christian Gospel Mission (commonly known as JMS) provided details about the third appellate trial of Pastor Jung Myung-seok, which took place at the Daejeon District Court on May 30. According to JMS, during the appeals process, the plaintiff, Ms. A, submitted a 97-minute audio recording, claiming it was recorded on her iPhone in a private setting with Pastor Jung. However, the recording was found to contain the voices of third parties in over 50 instances, and the voices of a man and a woman were recorded in different locations, then edited, tampered with, and modified. These findings were revealed during the third appellate trial on May 30, presided over by the 3rd Criminal Division of the Daejeon High Court, when Pastor Jung’s defense attorney submitted an audio file analysis report from an officially recognized external institution as evidence. The court had previously allowed the copying of the audio recording during the second appellate trial on April 16.

Immediately following the third appellate trial of Pastor Jeong Myeong-seok of JMS on May 30th, Attorney Lee Kyung-joon (center), representing Pastor Jeong, held a press conference in front of the Daejeon High Court saying, “As a result of an assessment commissioned by the defense regarding certain sections of the on-site audio recording, it has been concluded that the audio recording was edited and manipulated.” ©Break News

Immediately after the appellate trial, Lee Kyung-joon, the defense attorney for Pastor Jung Myung-seok, held a press conference in front of the main entrance of the Daejeon High Court. He stated, “In today’s trial, the discussion in the morning centered on the audio recording made by the victim at the scene, which had been accepted as crucial evidence in the first trial.” He emphasized, “As a result of the defense’s request for an analysis of the audio recording, it was concluded that the file had been edited and manipulated.”


On this day, Attorney Lee Kyung-joon explained, “The specific details of the editing and manipulation suggest that the voices of a man and a woman were recorded in different locations, then played back in one place and re-recorded with an Apple device. That was the conclusion reached. Therefore, the court has decided to commission a re-examination to determine whether the audio file was edited and manipulated by selecting both the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office and a private forensic institution.”

In response to a reporter’s question about how the trial regarding the audio recording will proceed, he said, “Although the National Forensic Service already conducted an analysis during the first trial, the appellate court has requested a re-examination. After receiving results from both the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office and the private forensic institution, the court plans to summon the experts who conducted the analysis to question them about any doubts.”

He added, “The analysis conducted so far has concluded that in about 50 instances, voices of third-party men and women, who are neither the defendant nor the victim, can be heard, or there are inexplicable background noises. This indicates that the audio recording is not a direct recording of the incident as it happened.”

According to the defense attorney for Pastor Jung Myung-seok, the 97-minute audio file is evidence submitted by the accuser, Ms. A. She has claimed that she recorded this during a counseling session with Pastor Jung Myung-seok on the night of September 14, 2021, in a building within the Wolmyeongdong Natural Temple. This audio recording caused a significant social stir when key parts of it were revealed on JTBC News in 2022 and the Netflix series, “In the Name of God,” in 2023.

In the meantime, JMS members have pointed out parts of “In the Name of God” that they claim distort the truth. They argue that the audio recording is a contaminated piece of evidence that had been meticulously spliced together from Pastor Jung Myung-seok’s usual voice recordings and manipulated with subtitles to create the impression of a quasi-rape incident.

The appellate court in Pastor Jung Myung-seok’s case has decided to proceed with an official forensic examination. This will involve the swearing-in and questioning of the forensic experts, followed by commissioning the examination. After the results are obtained, the court will conduct further questioning of the expert witnesses on the afternoon of June 11. The court has selected two institutions for this examination: the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office and a private forensic institution, to investigate whether the evidence was tampered with.

The defense attorney for Pastor Jung Myung-seok submitted evidence to the court indicating that the audio recording had been tampered with. A private institution’s analysis report of the recording submitted by the accuser pointed out, “Traces of editing and manipulation were found in the audio file.”

At the appellate trial on June 25th, the defense will review the evidence submitted by the defense counsel and proceed with the examination of witnesses requested by the defense. The prosecution also announced that they will summon Ms. A, the plaintiff, as a witness for the examination of evidence such as the audio file on that day. The fourth trial of this case is expected to be a battleground where the evidence and the allegations of evidence tampering by both the plaintiff and the defense, respectively, will be scrutinized. Furthermore, if evidence tampering is revealed, issues regarding the suspension of the plaintiff’s attorney’s qualifications and the legal responsibilities of the plaintiff may be raised.

Wolmyeongdong ©Break News

Wolmyeongdong ©Break News

The location identified by the plaintiff as the scene of quasi-rape, Wolmyeongdong Natural Temple in Geumsan-gun, Chungcheongnam-do. The 470,000 pyeong natural temple is an open area without fences or walls. Photo/top-middle-bottom. ©Break News

 Meanwhile, modern society is in the era of artificial intelligence. “Is evidence tampering a crime in current Korean law?” was inquired on the AI portal “Luiten.”  Below is Luiten’s response:

“In current Korean law, evidence tampering is considered a crime. The key points related to this are as follows:

▲ Criminalization of Evidence Tampering: According to Article 307 of the Criminal Procedure Act, the act of forging, altering, or concealing evidence is defined as a crime. Article 12(1) of the National Security Act also punishes the fabrication or destruction of evidence with the intention of subjecting others to criminal punishment.

▲ Types of Evidence Tampering: Actions including forging, altering, or concealing evidence; falsely accusing or perjuring against others; fabricating or destroying evidence.

▲ Examples of Evidence Tampering Cases: The National Intelligence Service Evidence Tampering Case: Instances where prosecutors submitted forged evidence to court. The Seoul City Government Official Espionage Case: Instances where the National Intelligence Service manipulated officials into espionage. Therefore, evidence tampering is explicitly considered a criminal act under Korean law, and provisions for punishment are in place. Evidence tampering is treated seriously because it can obstruct fair trials and infringe upon the rights of victims. Additionally, for the protection of victims, according to Article 294-2 of the Criminal Procedure Act, the court must examine the victim as a witness if requested by the victim or their legal representative due to the crime. This is done to protect the rights of the victim. In summary, evidence tampering is strictly prohibited under Korean law, with provisions for punishment in place, and there are also institutional measures in place for victim protection.”

The media also stepped forward with truthful reporting on the proceedings of the third trial of this case.

The Gyeongbuk Newspaper, in its article dated May 30th, reported extensively on the claims made by the defense of Pastor Jeong Myeong-seok under the headline “Analysis of Key Audio Recording Evidence in JMS Jeong Myeong-seok Trial Reveals Confirmed Suspicions of Editing and Manipulation.” The article stated, “During the second appellate trial, a forensic report from a specialized institution was submitted as evidence, asserting that ‘the recording was edited or manipulated.’ According to the forensic report, ‘voices of third parties were found in the 97-minute recording, and it is presumed that the voices of a man and a woman were recorded in different places and then re-recorded onto the plaintiff’s mobile phone or separate device.'” The newspaper further reported, “The prosecution requested the court to designate the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office as the institution for fair and professional evaluation of the audio recording. The defense also requested that, in addition to the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office evaluation, evaluation should be conducted by a separate specialized institution if agreed upon by the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office.” <Part 2 Continues>  moonilsuk@naver.com

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