The chief of a controversial spiritual sect on the heart of the coronavirus outbreak in South Korea apologized Monday as 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 – received on his knees and bowed at a unexpectedly organized information convention Monday, based on 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 group, based on 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 instructed 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. Mark Received-soon, mayor of Seoul, stated Lee and different leaders of the church may have prevented such a mass unfold if they’d cooperated with authorities sooner.
Seoul metropolis officers filed a felony criticism with the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Workplace asking for an investigation of Lee and 12 others on prices of homicide and illness management act violations.
A member of the sect, generally known as Affected person 31, attended two companies 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 yr, although it’s investigating whether or not that performed a task 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, instructed Reuters.
On Friday, Lee known as the virus the “satan’s deed to cease the fast development of Shincheonji,” based on a put up on an inside app utilized by members.
Church spokesman Kim Shin-chang instructed 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 loss of life” in opposition to the group.
“We have been nervous about releasing this info due to the protection of our members,” Kim stated.
The Related Press contributed to this report.