Coronavirus-linked South Korea sect leader apologizes for virus unfold amid demolish probe

By | March 2, 2020

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The leader of a controversial non secular sect at the heart of the coronavirus outbreak in South Korea apologized Monday as the city of Seoul has started a demolish investigation into the neighborhood, saying the church refused to cooperate with efforts to cease the virus.

The head of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, Lee Man-hee – who claims he’s the 2d coming of Jesus Christ and will gain 144,000 folks to heaven, as promised in the Bible – got on his knees and bowed at a with out note organized files convention Monday, per Straits Times.

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Within the key outbreak outside of China, the majority of the nation’s extra than 4,335 confirmed instances are participants of the secretive neighborhood, labeled a cult in South Korea and by the Christian community, per a spokesman for the church.

Lee Man-hee, a leader of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, bows during the press conference in Gapyeong, South Korea, Monday, March 2, 2020. In the hastily arranged news conference Lee, the 88-year-old leader of a religious sect which has the country’s largest cluster of infections, bowed down on the ground twice and apologized for causing the “unintentional” spread of the disease. (Kim Ju-sung/Yonhap via AP)

Lee Man-hee, a frontrunner of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, bows throughout the clicking convention in Gapyeong, South Korea, Monday, March 2, 2020. Within the with out note organized files convention Lee, the 88-yr-outmoded leader of a non secular sect which has the nation’s biggest cluster of infections, bowed down on the ground twice and apologized for inflicting the “unintended” unfold of the disease. (Kim Ju-sung/Yonhap by assignment of AP)

“We did our simplest nonetheless weren’t in a plot to cease the unfold of the virus,” the 88-yr-outmoded leader mentioned at the guidelines convention in Gapyeong, northeast of Seoul.

“I’m in actuality grateful, nonetheless at the the same time, asking forgiveness. I below no circumstances thought this would possibly happen, even in my dreams,” he told newshounds, prior to bowing low twice in a old mark of humility and remorse.

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Of the confirmed instances, 3,081 are from the southern city of Daegu and 73 p.c of these instances had been linked to the Shincheonji Church attain there. Park Won-quickly, mayor of Seoul, mentioned Lee and other leaders of the church will have avoided this kind of mass unfold if they had cooperated with authorities sooner.

Lee Man-hee, a leader of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, speaks to the media during the press conference in Gapyeong, South Korea, Monday, March 2, 2020. (Kim Ju-sung/Yonhap via AP)

Lee Man-hee, a frontrunner of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, speaks to the media throughout the clicking convention in Gapyeong, South Korea, Monday, March 2, 2020. (Kim Ju-sung/Yonhap by assignment of AP)

Seoul city officials filed a prison grievance with the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Place of work soliciting for an investigation of Lee and 12 others on charges of demolish and disease administration act violations.

A member of the sect, identified as Affected person 31, attended two companies in Daegu prior to spreading it to many others and touring round the nation undetected. The Korea Centres for Illness Control and Prevention (KCDC) mentioned some participants visited Wuhan, where the virus emerged supreme yr, even supposing it is investigating whether or no longer that played a role in the outbreak.

“You might maybe maybe maybe perhaps be 5 centimeters away from the one who sits subsequent to you, and favor to enlighten ‘Amen’ after every sentence the pastor speaks — it’s the glorious ambiance for the virus to unfold,” An So-young, a 27-yr-outmoded who left the neighborhood, told Reuters.

Lee Man-hee, a leader of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, attends at a press conference in Gapyeong, South Korea, Monday, March 2, 2020. (Kim Ju-sung/Yonhap via AP)

Lee Man-hee, a frontrunner of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, attends at a press convention in Gapyeong, South Korea, Monday, March 2, 2020. (Kim Ju-sung/Yonhap by assignment of AP)

On Friday, Lee called the virus the “devil’s deed to cease the like a flash boost of Shincheonji,” per a put up on an internal app feeble by participants.

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Church spokesman Kim Shin-chang told the BBC they hesitated to listing of participants, students, and buildings to authorities thanks to earlier “hate crimes and violations of human rights…which have ended in loss of life” in opposition to the neighborhood.

“We were shy about releasing this files thanks to the safety of our participants,” Kim mentioned.

The Associated Press contributed to this picture.