'In the Name of God' documentary roils entertainment industry

Kyungyoon, a member of K-pop boy group DKZ / Captured from Instagram

JMS followers are everywhere in society

By Dong Sun-hwa

"In the Name of God: A Holy Betrayal," a Netflix documentary about heinous crimes committed by Korean cult leaders, is rocking the country's entertainment industry.

The eight-episode docuseries directed by Jo Seong-hyeon lays bare the criminal wrongdoings of four pseudo-religious groups ― Jesus Morning Star (JMS), Five Oceans, The Baby Garden and God of Manmin ― and their leaders.

Among them, Jung Myung-seok of JMS, who served a 10-year prison sentence after being convicted of sexually assaulting several female followers, currently faces another trial over the same charges. Jung allegedly committed sexual violence against two followers 17 times after being released from jail in 2018.

The documentary's shocking revelations have drawn public anger, prompting some online users to track down people tied to the controversial cult churches by sharing a list of businesses affiliated with them. They soon discovered on the list the name of a cafe in North Gyeongsang Province, which has been run by the parents of Kyoungyoon, a member of K-pop boy group DKZ.

A poster for the Netflix docuseries, "In the Name of God: A Holy Betrayal" / Courtesy of Netflix
The 23-year-old's management company Dongyo Entertainment issued a statement Wednesday, saying his parents closed the cafe.

"Kyoungyoon thought his parents were part of a normal church, before coming across the Netflix documentary and different reports," read the statement. "He was shocked to know about the facts (about JMS). His family immediately closed their shop and will cut ties with the church."

Numerous people, however, are still giving him the cold shoulder, questioning whether long-time followers like his family can leave JMS with ease. They also doubt whether Kyoungyoon ― who previously revealed that he was a Christian ― knew nothing about his family's religious activities.

Kim Do-hyeong, an anti-JMS activist featured in "In the Name of God" and a professor of mathematics at Dankook University, also dropped the bombshell on a KBS radio program, Thursday. He claimed that a producer at KBS ― one of the three major broadcasters in Korea along with MBC and SBS ― and a female translator who frequently appears in KBS programs are also part of JMS.

"I heard that there are some followers in MBC too," director Jo said during a press conference at Lotte Hotel in central Seoul, Friday. "They can be anywhere. But if they do not cause any harm to our society, tracking them down can be an act of witchcraft. The fault is not in them, but in those who create a religion and lead people in the wrong direction."

Dong Sun-hwa sunhwadong@koreatimes.co.kr

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