The chief of a controversial spiritual sect on the heart of the coronavirus outbreak in South Korea apologized Monday as the town of Seoul has began a homicide investigation into the group, saying the church refused to cooperate with efforts to cease the virus.
The top of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, Lee Man-hee – who claims he’s the second coming of Jesus Christ and can take 144,000 individuals to heaven, as promised within the Bible – obtained on his knees and bowed at a swiftly organized information convention Monday, in accordance with Straits Times.
Within the largest outbreak exterior of China, the bulk of the nation’s greater than 4,335 confirmed instances are members of the secretive group, labeled a cult in South Korea and by the Christian neighborhood, in accordance with a spokesman for the church.
“We did our best but were not able to stop the spread of the virus,” the 88-year-old chief stated on the information convention in Gapyeong, northeast of Seoul.
“I’m really grateful, but at the same time, asking forgiveness. I never thought this would happen, even in my dreams,” he advised reporters, earlier than bowing low twice in a conventional signal of humility and remorse.
Of the confirmed instances, 3,081 are from the southern metropolis of Daegu and 73 % of those instances have been linked to the Shincheonji Church close to there. Park Received-soon, mayor of Seoul, stated Lee and different leaders of the church might have prevented such a mass unfold if that they had cooperated with authorities sooner.
Seoul metropolis officers filed a prison criticism with the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Workplace asking for an investigation of Lee and 12 others on fees of homicide and illness management act violations.
A member of the sect, generally known as Affected person 31, attended two providers in Daegu earlier than spreading it to many others and touring across the nation undetected. The Korea Centres for Illness Management and Prevention (KCDC) stated some members visited Wuhan, the place the virus emerged final 12 months, although it’s investigating whether or not that performed a job within the outbreak.
“You would be 5 centimeters away from the person who sits next to you, and have to say ‘Amen’ after every sentence the pastor speaks — it’s the best environment for the virus to spread,” An So-young, a 27-year-old who left the group, advised Reuters.
On Friday, Lee known as the virus the “satan’s deed to cease the speedy development of Shincheonji,” in accordance with a submit on an inside app utilized by members.
Church spokesman Kim Shin-chang advised the BBC they hesitated to checklist of members, college students, and buildings to authorities due to earlier “hate crimes and violations of human rights…which have led to dying” in opposition to the group.
“We had been nervous about releasing this data due to the security of our members,” Kim stated.
The Related Press contributed to this report.