Over HALF of South Korea’s 556 coronavirus cases are linked to cult whose leader is ‘immortal’


More than half of all South Korea‘s coronavirus cases are linked to a secretive ultra-religious cult whose leader believes he is immortal. 

South Korean officials yesterday confirmed at least 309 of the country’s 556 new cases are linked to outbreaks at a branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu. Five people are now confirmed to have died from the disease in South Korea.

Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 113 new cases on Sunday. 

It also revealed yesterday it had obtained a list of 9,300 people who had attended church services, around 1,200 of whom had complained of flu-like symptoms.

There are further reports of outbreaks in the psychiatric unit of a hospital in Cheongdo county, infectons in Busan, and on the island of Jeju. 

And Samsung Electronics said today that one coronavirus case had been confirmed at its mobile device factory complex in Gumi, near Daegu.   

South Korean officials have confirmed reports of outbreaks in the psychiatric unit of a hospital in Cheongdo (pictured, medical workers moving a suspected coronavirus patient)

South Korean officials have confirmed reports of outbreaks in the psychiatric unit of a hospital in Cheongdo (pictured, medical workers moving a suspected coronavirus patient)

Two patients from the Cheongdo hospital have died from contracting the virus.   

KCDC designated both Daegu, which has a population of 2.5million, and Cheongdo county, home to around 43,000, as ‘special zones’ yesterday. 

Authorities even sent military medical staff and other health workers, and extra resources, including hospital beds.  

More than half of the national cases are linked to a 61-year-old woman known as ‘Patient 31’ who attended religious services at a branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony. 

The woman had no recent record of overseas travel, officials claimed. 

Meanwhile, cases from the hospital surged near a hundred overnight, with all but two of the new infections from the hospital’s psychiatric unit.

Lee Man-Hee: The ‘immortal’ leader of a secretive cult that allegedly bullies its members into silence 

Lee Man-Hee (pictured), whose cult has 74 churches in South Korea, is considered by 120,000 followers to be 'immortal' and even the second coming of Jesus Christ

Lee Man-Hee (pictured), whose cult has 74 churches in South Korea, is considered by 120,000 followers to be ‘immortal’ and even the second coming of Jesus Christ

  • Lee Man-Hee, now 88 years old, is the founder of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony.
  • His group has been accused by Christian authorities around the world as being a secret cult that infiltrates churches and ‘deceives‘ to recruit. 
  • Lee, whose cult has 74 churches in South Korea, is considered by 120,000 followers to be ‘immortal‘ and even the second coming of Jesus Christ. 
  • Very little is known about the cult, but it has been claimed that it is so strict and obsessed with secrecy that its members are bullied into silence
  • Lee’s critics charge him with self-promotion, such as his alleged trip to the UAE in 2015 to pose for photos and boost his credentials at home.  
  • Others – often other religious authorities – claim that he is a ‘false prophet‘. 
It has been reported five patients have died from contracting the super virus

It has been reported five patients have died from contracting the super virus

KCDC designated Daegu, which has a population of 2.5million, and Cheongdo, home to around 43,000, as 'special zones' (pictured, a health worker disinfects an office in Daegu)

KCDC designated Daegu, which has a population of 2.5million, and Cheongdo, home to around 43,000, as ‘special zones’ (pictured, a health worker disinfects an office in Daegu)

KCDC also said they had a list of 9,300 people who had attended church services, around 1,200 of whom had complained of flu-like symptoms (pictured, people wearing masks)

KCDC also said they had a list of 9,300 people who had attended church services, around 1,200 of whom had complained of flu-like symptoms (pictured, people wearing masks)

South Korean officials have speculated that the outbreaks in the hospital and the church may be linked, as several members of the ultra-religious sect attended a funeral at the hospial for the brother of its founder this month. 

President Moon Jae-in has called for officials to investigate potential links.

The hospital, which has around 600 patients and staff, has been closed, and patients are being transferred to other facilities. 

KCDC Director Jeong Eun-kyeong said they believed the patients had ‘repeated exposure given the isolated facility of the psychiatric wards’. 

Among the new cases confirmed today, two were in Busan, one of South Korea’s largest cities, while one was a solider stationed on Jeju.

It is believed that he had come into contact with residents in the Daegu area.   

Pictured, a man wearing a face mask at a subway station being renovated in Seoul

Pictured, a man wearing a face mask at a subway station being renovated in Seoul

KCDC Director Jeong Eun-kyeong said they believed the patients had 'repeated exposure given the isolated facility of the psychiatric wards'

KCDC Director Jeong Eun-kyeong said they believed the patients had ‘repeated exposure given the isolated facility of the psychiatric wards’

Among the new cases confirmed today, two were in Busan, one of South Korea's largest cities, while one was a solider stationed on Jeju (pictured, people wearing masks)

Among the new cases confirmed today, two were in Busan, one of South Korea’s largest cities, while one was a solider stationed on Jeju (pictured, people wearing masks)

In Seoul, thousands of people took to the streets for a political rally, despite the city's mayor saying the gatherings would be banned (pictured, a police officer wearing a mask)

In Seoul, thousands of people took to the streets for a political rally, despite the city’s mayor saying the gatherings would be banned (pictured, a police officer wearing a mask)

Seoul police said they were aware of the ban but that it would be an 'abuse of power' for them to intervene (pictured, thousands attending an anti-government rally)

Seoul police said they were aware of the ban but that it would be an ‘abuse of power’ for them to intervene (pictured, thousands attending an anti-government rally) 

All military personnel at a Daegu base have been barred from leaving the barracks.

Meanwhile, Samsung Electronics said the floor where the infected employee worked would be shut down until Tuesday morning.

In Seoul, thousands of people took to the streets today for regular weekend political rallies, despite the city’s mayor saying the gatherings would be banned.

Seoul police said they were aware of the ban but that it would be an ‘abuse of power’ for them to intervene. Police could only begin an investigation into the rallies if the city administration sued an individual or groups, an official said.

Cult leader at centre of South Korea’s coronavirus outbreak says the disease is ‘the devil’s deed’ as cases double to 204 and secretive church is blamed for spreading deadly virus 

The leader of a ‘cult’ at the centre of South Korea’s coronavirus crisis has labelled the deadly outbreak ‘the devil’s deed’.

Lee Man-Hee declared the virus a ‘test of faith’ after services at the Shincheonji Church of Jesus were widely blamed for spreading the virus. 

The movement’s leader and self-proclaimed messiah Lee Man-hee rallied his troops today in a message sent on an internal app.

‘This disease case is seen as the devil’s deed to stop the rapid growth of Shincheonji,’ he wrote in the message, according to Yonhap news agency.

‘Just like the tests Job went through, it is to destroy our advancement,’ he said.

Sect leader Lee Man-Hee (pictured left) declared the virus a 'test of faith' after services at the Shincheonji Church of Jesus were widely blamed for spreading the virus

Sect leader Lee Man-Hee (pictured left) declared the virus a ‘test of faith’ after services at the Shincheonji Church of Jesus were widely blamed for spreading the virus

Shincheonji, which claims 200,000 followers in South Korea, has now told members to instead watch its services on YouTube.

The movement, which translates as ‘new heaven and new earth,’ was established in 1984 and describes its founder Lee as the ‘Promised Pastor’. He has widely been described by other Christian groups as a false prophet or a cult leader.

‘Shincheonji followers believe Lee Man-hee is immortal and has an eternal life,’ said Ji-il Tark at Busan Presbyterian University in South Korea.

‘To propagate their belief, they often approach their relatives and acquaintances or sneak to other churches without telling them they are Shincheonji members.’ 

The church said in a statement it was fully cooperating with government quarantine efforts and accused mainstream church groups of spreading false claims, such as that it initially instructed followers to keep silent about the illness.



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