lørdag 7. mars 2020

How one man's epiphany on a Seoul mountain in 1955 laid the foundation for many religious sects in South Korea

Members of the Shincheonji religious group dress in identical white shirts, black pants and name tags when they gather to hear founder Lee Man-hee preach. There are no chairs, except for those provided for the elderly or sick. They sit on the floor to listen to sermons to maximize space.

The religious practices of Shincheonji are in the public eye because the movement appears to be the source of South Korea's growing novel coronavirusoutbreak that has infected more than 5,000 people there. Shincheonji, however, is not the only fringe faith in the country. Today there are hundreds of similar minority religious groups in South Korea -- including Christian ones -- according to Tark Ji-il, a professor at Busan Presbyterian University and a respected expert on the country's religious movements. Some of their leaders claim to be prophets or argue they alone have an unmatched ability to interpret the Bible. A few are notorious for calling on worshipers to do things that look, to the outside world, strange at best and abusive or violent at worst.