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South Korea

South Korean pastor arrested after stranding 400 worshippers in Fiji, subjecting some to beating rituals

Shin Ok-ju took away passports of her congregants and subjected them to abuse and brutal rituals

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 August, 2018, 2:08pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 August, 2018, 9:34pm

A South Korean pastor has been arrested after stranding 400 of her congregants in Fiji and subjecting them to violent and brutal rituals.

Shin Ok-ju of the Grace Road Church was arrested along with three other church leaders when they landed at Incheon airport just outside the South Korean capital Seoul.

Her followers travelled to Fiji starting in 2014 after she predicted there would be a famine across the Korean peninsula.

But once they arrived, their passports were confiscated and a group personally selected by Shin known as “guardians” prevented the worshippers from leaving.

While they were in Fiji they performed ritual beating on each other, which Shin said was done to avoid punishment from God.

A father was forced to hit his son over 100 times and another congregant was beaten so badly during the “threshing ground” ritual he had lasting brain damage, according to local Christian media outlets.

Eventually, at least five people were able to escape and contacted South Korean authorities.

Christian inspired cults have attracted significant followings in Korea, where about 28 per cent of the population identifies as either Catholic or Protestant.

The leader of one group who claimed he was the messiah was jailed for rape, while female congregants were encouraged to have sex with him to attain “purification”.

This is not the first time Shin has been in trouble with the law. She was sued for US$6 million in 2014 in Brooklyn by a 27-year-old mentally ill man after Shin tried to cure his schizophrenia with prayer.

He was bound with duct tape during the ritual and ultimately had to have his leg amputated. His condition worsened as a result and he had to live in a nursing home, the New York Daily News reported at the time.