Jin Yong-sik (56, the Pastor of Ansan Sangrok Church, the Head of Korea Christian Counseling Center for Cult Victims, and the Vice-chairman of the Christian Council of Korea Heresy Countermeasure Committee [CCKHCC]), who is well-known for being a “conversion expert,” filed a lawsuit against the human rights activists, who called him a “home wrecker” at their public campaign, of defamation but lost the case.
Pastor Jin defamed a certain church and its members under the pretext of converting them from 15 years ago; he instigated family conflict, family violence, and family breakdown by forcing some members of the church to convert as well as aiding and abetting his members in confining them in his church and in a mental hospital.
On the 21st, Seoul Central District Court Judge Seo Jeong-hyeon declared Jeong Baek-hyang, Jin Min-seon, Won Seo-heui, and Ahn Gyeong-ah not guilty; as the members of the Human Rights Alliance for Mental Hospital Abuse Victims [HRAMHAV], they were accused of defamation for publicly showing false information during their Religion Hate Crime Prevention Campaign.
The justice department says, “Pastor Jin got paid for coercive conversion education and consultation”
The HRAMHAV activists held a public campaign several times from November, 2008 to October, 2009 and exposed the fact that Pastor Jin had received money for the wages of coercive conversion education, and caused family breakdown and social unrest, and satisfied his selfish interests and desires by deceiving their church members with false information. Pastor Jin claimed that it was false, and filed a lawsuit against the activists in March, 2010, and so the prosecution charged them with defamation by false information through public campaign as Jin insisted.
After 13 hearings, the justice department judged them not guilty, saying: “In the important parts, the information shown by the defendants turned out to be true. Since it is not false information, there is no proof that they publicly showed false information.”
According to the sentencing, the justice department said: “Pastor Jin Yong-sik criticized and blamed the churches that he appointed as heretic, and held heresy seminars to convert those church members, and forced conversion education on the members from the Church of God and so on. In the process, he received money from the family of those who were forced to receive his education, under the pretext of a consultation fee. Continuing the heresy seminars, he received money in the form of a reward.”
In regard to this case, Pastor Jin strongly denied the suspicion of accepting money for the conversion education sessions, testifying in court last December. However, after inspecting his bank accounts, it turned out that Pastor Jin had earned over one billion won (one million USD) from his conversion business which included conversion education and heresy seminars.
The prosecution in trouble by trusting Pastor Jin
In their public campaign, the HRAMHAV activists said: “Pastor Jin received money from the victims’ families, promising that he would convert the victims, and used extreme methods such as violence, threat, coercion, and confinement, and in the end destroyed the victims’ families thoroughly, and caused serious problems in society. For his vicious crime, the Supreme Court finally sentenced Jin to 10 months in prison with a 2-year probation on October 23, 2008 . . . And his church members, too, were found guilty of coercion, violence, threat, as well as aiding and abetting confinement, and the Supreme Court confirmed that Pastor Jin and his members should pay compensation as they lost in the damage suit, too. Pastor Jin was sentenced to a fine of 500,000 Korean won (500 USD) twice by the Supreme Court on charges of defamation by spreading false information.”
Although the prosecution took the case, regarding the above contents as false information, Judge Seo Joeng-hyeon decided that the defendants’ claim is fact because it is based on the ruling of the Supreme Court.
Between the years 2000 and 2001, Pastor Jin forced conversion education on Ms. Jeong the Representative of HRAMHAV, Ms. Jin the Manager of HRAMHAV, and another victim Ms. Oh; and he aided and abetted the victims’ families to confine them in the rooftop house of his Ansan Sangrok Church and in a mental hospital’s closed ward. On these charges, Pastor Jin was convicted by the Supreme Court on October 23, 2008. At that time, the Supreme Court said: “Jin Yong-sik is the main agent of conversion coercion, and the other people involved just played the role of an assistant. It is acknowledged that the defendants committed a serious crime of invading personal liberty and religious freedom under the guise of advisor for conversion. This is a crime that cannot be accepted by social norms.”
The justice department did not even accept the insistence of the prosecution that the HRAMHAV activists’ campaign, “Pastor Jin caused family breakdown and social unrest,” was false. The court revealed that in the process of Pastor Jin’s conversion coercion, victims Jeong and Oh were forcefully sent to a mental hospital by their husbands, and that this caused their marital relationship to fall apart.”
At this ruling, lawyers said: “The justice department acknowledged the HRAMHAV activists’ insistence that Pastor Jin had received money for conversion education and consultation, and satisfied his selfish interest and desires, causing families to fall apart and causing social unrest.”
The prosecution did not appeal to the higher courts, and so the first judgment of ‘not guilty’ was confirmed. Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office Chief Judge said of the reason for abandoning the appeal: “After reviewing the sentencing and all records, we’ve decided that there is no possibility that the ruling can be altered even if we appeal to the higher courts. So we decided to stop here.”
Reporter Lee Seul [firstname.lastname@example.org]