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120,000 South Koreans rally for punishment of pastors for forced conversion


PHOTO: Citizen TV

• Protesters Demand Investigation Of A Death Case Of A 25-Year-Old Korean Woman
• Legislation Of A Ban On Forced Conversion

About 120,000 citizens in Seoul and major cities of South Korea, recently, gathered to protest against forced conversion and ‘education’ by Christian pastors. The protesters also called for the establishment of legal framework on the punishment of violent behaviour in the name of religion.

Human Rights Association for Forced Conversion (HRAFC), a Korean civil society organisation promoting social recognition of human rights violation by religion, held this rally for the demand on the punishment of Christian pastors, who have ‘consultation’ with money and encourage families to kidnap their members who have different religious orientations.

Recently, a 25-year-old woman, Ms. Ji In Gu was kidnapped and confined in a pension room and found dead after her parents suffocated her.

HRAFC claims that the death is a typical case of forced conversion for the following reasons. First, Ms. Gu was out of contact after she told her friends that she would be in family gathering. Second, the pension where she was found dead was reserved for three months. Third, physical violence between Ms. Gu and her parents led to her death, while the parents stated that she was suffocated while they were “persuading the daughter”.

HRAFC explains that the police and authorities disregard this kind of illegal activities because they are “family” or “religious” problems. It further states that family members usually take illegal actions, while pastors who encourage them are behind the net of the law.
“Violent behaviours including kidnapping, confinement, and attacks cannot be justified in any cases. Punishment against pastors who lead forced conversion and death of citizens is an urgent need to avoid further negative consequences,” said Mr. Sang Ik Park, co-president of HRAFC. “The victims of forced conversion exceed 1,000 people, and it is evident that there are more future victims without legal protection and careful attention by citizens is required,” he added.

According to HRAFC, forced conversion has been conducted mostly by pastors from the Protestant churches in South Korea to congregation members of religious groups as targets that the Christian Council of Korea (CCK) define as “cult.”

The online petition on the punishment of forced conversion with 100,000 support was delivered to the Blue House, the residential office of the President of South Korea, but it was deleted on the website. The Blue House has not provided official statement regarding this matter.

According to a news report from the CCK organ on the issue of the petition, the president of the CCK sent a text message to Korean pastors. The message said, “The discussion on imprisonment of pastors who work for cult is underway in the Blue House website. Visit the website and say no to the request on ‘We ask imprisonment of pastors for forced conversion’.”

HRAFC said, “Virtually this is the official position of the CCK standing against investigation of the case and indicates that the CCK admits forced conversion actually exists.”

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