If you live in Korea any length of time, you’re likely to come across some of Korea’s more unique religious groups. You’re also likely to come across members of the Watchtower Tract and Bible Society, otherwise known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’ve been handed quite a few copies of The Watchtower. Generally, though, the Watchtower members I’ve met have been nice. There is also the Unification Church, the group which believes than Moon Sun-myung is the Messiah and that he and his wife, Han Hak-ja, are the True Parents. By being a member of the Unification Church and by getting married in a mass wedding ceremony by the Reverend Moon, you can thus raise up children free of original sin.
Whether or not this is actually true is up to you, I suppose. I’ve not had any personal encounters with their members, appart from someone from the Tong-il Group, the vast holding company which oversees many of Moon’s businesses, who commented on an earlier post I wrote about them.
One group I have encountered often, especially in railway terminals and bus stations, is the World Mission Society Church of God. Known in Korean as the Hananim-eui gyohoe segye bokeum seongyo hyeophoe (하나님의교회 세계복음선교협회) or more simply as the Hananim-eui gyohoe (Church of God), this particular cult was founded in the 1960s by Ahn Sahng-hong (안상홍) who his followers revere as the second coming of Christ and is God the Father. He died in 1985. His wife, Jang Gil-jah (장길자) is believed to be God the Mother and is known as the “Heavenly Mother”. This is a very aggressive group which makes the Jehovah’s Witnesses look mild. They have a Seventh-Day Adventist background I have been approached by this group many times. I think that they may have also been followers of Reverend Moon’s at one time, though I’m not sure.
An expert on this group is professor Ji-il Tark (탁지일 교수님). He teaches at Pusan Presbyterian University and is an expert on new Korean religious movements. His father, a famous minister who worked to combat the cults in Korea, was killed by a cult member, though not one from the World Mission Society Church of God. This is a talk he gave to the International Cultic Studies Association.
Unfortunately, I’m having troubles with Word Press and embedding videos into my text. If you care to hear Professor Tark’s talk, and it is fascinating, please click here.
Professor Tark also runs the Information Network on Christian Heresies. If you can read Korean, you may wish to peruse what he has available regarding new religious movements in Korea and elsewhere. You can access the network by clicking here.