SHINCHEONJI-PHOBIA AND THE CORONAVIRUS EPIDEMIC IN SOUTH KOREA

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Chicago, IL, February 28, 2020 The rapid proliferation of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has resulted in 13 deaths and 1,766 confirmed cases in South Korea as of February 27th. Shincheonji Church so far has nearly 500 members confirmed positive to the virus and as a result has become the target discrimination and defamation.

Several media outlets in South Korea have spread inaccurate and unfounded pseudo reports not from a source at Shincheonji but instead from sources backed by organizations who have had hostilities towards Shinchonji.

Here are the facts: 
Back on Feb. 19, South Korean President Moon Jae-In stated that a full survey and diagnosis of Shincheonji members were necessary. On Feb. 25, Shincheonji Church handed a list of 210,000 members to health authorities with the condition of protecting their identities.  On Feb. 26, health authorities began telephone surveys and tests for those who had symptoms.

Chosun Ilbo, a major newspaper in South Korea, reported that 5 people with pneumonia were found positive at the virus test by the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters before any Shincheonji member was involved. The medical community noted that the COVID-19 cases had already proliferated before the infection of members of Shincheonji Church.

“Shincheonji members generally do not recognize themselves in reports they read in the media. For instance, they do not regard their founder, Chairman Lee Man Hee, as the second coming of Jesus or as God. Publishing these claims without the fact-checking show that some media did not do their homework and only relied on hostile sources,” said Mr. Kim Shin Chang, General Director of Department of International Relations of Shincheonji Headquarters.

Shincheonji Church, recognized across the world in 2019 for their graduation of 100,000 students in a free bible seminar, Zion Mission Center has since been provocative in Korean society, mostly because its rapid growth in the past decade. Shincheonji’s members exceeded 200,000 in 2018 and the peaceful religious group that teaches the bible in free seminars across the world is on track to exceed half a million graduates this year, many under the age of 30. Members who’ve come from various religions are said to lead a peaceful life of faith directly in line with the bible’s teachings.

Munwha Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), a leading South Korean television, also reported on February 26th that a female Shincheonji member fell from a window of her house and died as a result of her husband’s violence. The husband has tried to coerce her to leave Shincheonji and, before her death, the police had received reports of family violence.

When one of its members died during a deprogramming, Shincheonji reacted with protest gatherings attended by more than 120,000 Korean citizens in January 2018 and demanded punishment on the criminal activities. The annual 2019 International Religious Freedom Report by the U.S. Department of State mentioned the incidents. However, the Korean government did not act to stop the inhumane deprogramming practice.

For more background info and to request media visit: shincheonji.us

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