Interview: Personal ‘Horrible’ Experience of Korean Cult Shinchonji for a Year and Half

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South Korea’s Shinchonji caused public outrage by gathering as usual to have consequently helped spreading the pandemic. In China by taking the opportunity of the pandemic, Shinchonji launched very wide network promotion of the cult which highly alerted the Chinese Church. There is also news about Shinchonji’s branches in Shanghai, Changchun, Beijing, Dalian and Shenyang etc. Its promoting methods and developing rate have brought harm to mainstream Church damaging the image of Christianity which needs great attention.

Recently, one victim told of his experience with Shinchonji for a year and half in east China. He had attended its systematic classes so understands the way of their promotion, but he also suffered from its harm resulting in his family broken up and economic losses. Later he quitted because he could not accept the teaching of “Lee Nam-hee’s physical immortality”. However, he could no longer recover the lost time with and the debt to his family.

The victim narrated that his mother was a Christian so he occasionally went to church as a child and heard her tell him to “go to church and pray, God will protect you”, “but I am not a true Christian.”

Since leaving home for education and later for employment, he rarely went to church, but the religious impression was still with him. Coincidentally, one of his best friends, who was also a believer, asked him out to meet a sister from the northeast, and began to study bible together.

It is believed many people are curious why are some people attracted to Shinchonji? The victim said that people were emotional animals. When he came into contact with Shinchonji members, they were very friendly so he contacted them time after time to listen to their bible teaching.

In the course of explaining the bible, Shinchonji will also come up with a Bible verse that contrasts the interpretation from the Three-self Church by comparing their interpretation, and say, “We explain more thoroughly here.”

“Their members are particularly loving and passionate whom in the normal society are difficult to encounter. They show care and bring gifts to people-to impress you through this extraordinary passion.”

He found that one of the promotion methods of Shinchonji was similar to that of pyramid marketing in which started by friends and family. In his Shinchonji group, many people are a family together in it. A member will take their classmates and friends in as it is easy to build trust.

In a period of almost a year and half from being dragged down by a friend to leaving Shinchonji, he had completed all the courses of Shinchonji, and reached to a backbone leader’s position going through the process from ‘turning over the floor’ (a slang), the gospel room to the primary, intermediate and advanced position. The slang ‘turn over the floor’ means bringing new people in. It usually takes place in KFC, café or other places to first chat for mutual understanding and getting the other’s ideas. After meeting like this for three or five times and if it is felt appropriate, person can be invited to enter the gospel room to learn ‘specialized’ courses for six days a week. It is generally a morning, an afternoon or an evening of the day, level by level, and each stage has the corresponding exams in addition to mandatory notes taken for each class.

Invitation to the gospel room means the systematic “brainwashing” has begun. First step is listen to some teachings different from the mainstream Church interpretation. Then, listen to parables, the Old and New Testament, and Revelation. By now, they will speak of symbolic meanings of “dragon” and “beast” and vaguely reveal that someone has set up the new heaven and new earth by God’s revelation, and guide people to believe that Lee Nam-hee is that person. The cult also claims that in South Korea there are already many people believe and acknowledge them that they do a lot of public welfares and “big things”. Some VIPs are believers.

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