A rundown of cults active on Korean campuses

March 28th, 2014 · Education and ESL, Society · 0 comments

Reader Peter Daley requested a translation of this article warning of the three cults that put the most effort into recruiting Korean university students.

A minister at the undergraduate division of a large church in Seoul had a dilemma. Was it possible to hold an effective undergraduate lecture on the subject of cults? It would be like a vaccination against cults. Just one lecture could have a big effect. Students who simply attend an anti-cult lecture would be that much more vigilant against them.

On the other hand, it is not easy to return after falling under the sway of a cult. Coming out to discussions on cults would mean having to endure bone-cutting torment. Simply having the discussion would mean the blossoming of mistrust with one’s family and a breach of credibility between one and one’s family. So, from the beginning it is very important to prevent people from falling in with a cult. 30 minutes on a Sunday would be good. Young and student pastors can obtain very good results just by reading the materials below and showing photos, then offering simple explanations.

Three Cults Easily Heard of On University Campuses

Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (Shincheonji, Founded by Lee Man-hui)

Shincheonji was founded on March 14, 1984 by Lee Man-hui (84), who had come from the Evangelism Center of Park Tae-seon. It is the goal of Shincheonji that adherents believe the 84-year old laborer named Lee Man-hui to be the savior of our age and an immortal leader and that the church he founded is the only place to achieve salvation. It may be a fantastical, narrow-minded, closed-off place, but despite this there is a simple reason young people can easily fall in with it.

It is because their way of luring people in is nothing like the widespread prevalence of common-sense ideas about how people are approached by cults. Shincheonji followers disguise themselves in a totally different way from the typical approach and come up to you, so unwary followers of traditional religions wind up being betrayed. They approach these young people with a cultural code that attracts their interest, including doing surveys. They also form a club for Shincheonji followers on campus.

Or, at a blind date one meets a member of the opposite sex who is actually a Shincheonji follower. They could be an older student or mentor who offers help with a problem. They could disguise themselves as a minister or missionary. They could approach as a mindreading minister with direct revelations from God (you must be careful not to fall for a Shincheonji fortunetelling team).

Shincheonji was classified as a cult by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Korea in 1995, being named at the time as a “group that deserves no theologically valuable analysis,” and re-classified as a cult in 2007 by the Presbyterian Church of Korea (Hapdong). It has also been classified as a cult by Korea Evangelical Holiness Church (1999), the Korean Presbyterian Church (1999). the Presbyterian Church of Korea (Koshin) (2005), and the Presbyterian Church of Korea (Daeshin) (2008).

JMS (Jeong Myeong-seok) – Christian Gospel Mission

When one refers to the “Big 3” cults, that usually means Shincheonji, the Salvation Church, and the Ahn Sang-hong Witness Church. But there is a small difference as to the Big 3 to worry about on university campuses. It seems more appropriate to replace the Ahn Sang-hong Witness Church with Jeong Myeong-seok. This is because JMS actively pursues new followers, targeting first-year university students. JMS started as Jeong Myeong-seok (70 years old), who once was a teacher in the Unification Church, and founded the Ae-cheon Church in Namgajwa-dong, Seoul in 1980.

They have expanded their congregations by targeting young adults and university students. They also changed their names frequently, and their past names include World Youth University Students MS Federation, East-West Christian Uniton, and International Christian Union, and now they are called Christian Gospel Mission.

JMS claims that Christ reincarnated in a human body to be born in 1945 in Korea (JMS himself was born in 1945). He also claims that people who read, believe, and follow the book titled “Word of Salvation,” written by JMS, will be saved. He argues that good and evil and depravity are sexual depravity, and the modern day is the ‘Lover’s Era’ among the different ‘eras’ of salvation.

Example of JMS font

Example of JMS font

It helps to distinguish him if you can remember JMS’s unique style of fonts. If there is a building or an organization using the same style of fonts as shown in the above photo, you can assume that building or organization is related to JMS. That is because that very style of fonts is the unique one used by JMS himself. The name of the institution is usually Christian Gospel Mission, and the name of denomination is often Methodist Jesus Church of Korea.

If you attend a Bible study because someone asked; if you see the unusual number of female pastors, usually taller than 168cm, teaching the Bible in the organization; if they hang a picture of Jesus titled ‘Astral Body of Jesus’ in the organization; if they have a headquarters in Weolmyeong-dong in Daejeon and call their leader the ‘governor’; and if that governor happens to have read the Bible more than 2,000 times, you can surely assume they are members of JMS, Christian Gospel Mission.

Recently in JMS, ‘female leadership’ has made a sudden rise. Jeong Jo-eun, a young woman, is called an apostle and she herself preaches. JMS has been classified as an anti-Christian cult by the Presbyterian Church of Korea (Koshin) in its 41st assembly in 1991, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Korea in its 87th assembly in 2002, and the Presbyterian Church of Korea (Hapdong) in its 93rd assembly in 2008.

Salvation Church (Park Ock-Soo Faction) International Youth Fellowship (IYF)

There are three factions in the Salvation Church. They are the Kwon Shin-chan (deceased)-Yoo Byeong-Eon faction, the Lee Yo-han faction, and the Park Ock-soo faction. All of them have been officially classified as cults by the main denominations of Korean churches. These denominations include the Presbyterian Church of Korea (Hapdong) (2008/93rd assembly/cult), the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (1992/77th assembly/cult), the Presbyterian Church of Korea (Koshin) (1991/41st assembly/cult), the Korea Evangelical Holiness Church (1985, 40th assembly/false religion cult) and so forth.

And Park Ock-soo has stirred controversy as he preached on July 7, 2009, thatf “I can live as a little Jesus and every single one of you are Jesus as well”. This is problematic because he is not saying that he is a ‘little Jesus’ as he follows Jesus, but rather that one actually becomes a little Jesus when he accepts Jesus in his heart, which seems to be deification theology.

Young university students must be extra cautious as IYF seeks both believers in Christianity and non-Christians usingvarious social and cultural approaches including English Speaking Competitions, Invited Lectures of Celebrities, International Volunteering (Good News Co), Return Conferences, Global Camps, Culture (International Culture Exhibition), musicals, local volunteering, concerts, and photo/drawing exhibitions.

You should also be cautious when you encounter △an organization that promotes dropping out of school and running away from home by extremely emphasizing the end of the world△an exclusive mission organization that prohibits attending local churches and considers only themselves as the disciples of Christ △university campus Bible lectures by pastors whose denomination or theology cannot be seen as transparent and sound △unverified sermons found in Internet sources including YouTube. This is for the same reason you do not want to try unsanitary food out of curiosity or try drugs by mistake.

Jin Yong-sik, President of Korea Christian Cult Counseling Center Institute expressed his view that an organization can be considered as a cult or a problematic religious organization if it teaches below concepts. Below is the list of concepts taught by cults.

Figurative Bible
Rather than analyzing by reading the context and the flow of sentences in the Bible, the cults argue that Bible must be read as a figurative speech, and mix and match specific passages from both Testaments.

Secretive Teaching
Gospel is nothing to be ashamed of or hidden, but the cults teach the Bible and tell you that you should not talk about this to your pastors and parents.

Different Saviors for Different Eras
Although Jesus is the Savior of all, past, present, and forever, the cults do not teach that but rather claim that there are different saviors for different eras, arguing that Noah, Moses, and Abraham were saviors, Jesus was the Savior in the New Testament era, but now we are to believe in a different savior in the end of the world.

Scriptures Other than the Bible
The Bible is the one and only Word of God, but the cults call the Bible out of date, bring their own new book and call it the truth of the new era.

Extreme Criticisms of the Church
When a church suffers a wound, they should help by praying and suffering together, but the cults rather emphasize and criticize the fallen state of the church, calling it a hypocritical religious organization. It sounds as if they are saying that the church has lost the truth and one should follow a new way of truth and salvation. They attack pastors of traditional churches as Pharisees and false shepherds.

Eschatology with Timing
The Bible clearly spoke of the day and time of Jesus’ coming, but the cults emphasize the exact date of the end and the Advent, and force blind obedience. Also, they lie with the idea of a conditional end of the world, saying the quota of 144,000 believers will be reached within 2-3 years for example.

Argument that the ‘East’ refers to Korea
The ‘East’ in the Bible refers to the Palestine region, which is east of Israel, but the cults interpret it as Korea and pose an unreasonable logic by matching the scriptures with specific places or incidents of specific organizations in Korea.

Direct Revelations
The cults exaggerate that their leaders have direct revelations from God, and the new revelations are the first in the 2,000 years since Jesus. And they claim that their leader has heard the voice of God, and they stir fear in people that they will be cursed if they do not listen to their leader.

Extreme Exclusiveness
The cults claim that there is no salvation in any other churches, and that their organization is the only one with salvation, denying salvation and truth by existing traditional churches.

Foreign brides to teach Korean kids

December 26th, 2013 · Education and ESL, Foreigners · 0 comments

Original article in Korean is at this link.

The “Immigrant Language Instructor Training Program”, which trains married immigrant women in the provinces to teach foreign languages, has graduated its first 40 trainees.

Hannam University announced on the 24th that 40 women from China, Japan, Vietnam, and Mongolia received their certificates for passing the 600-hour course that began in April. The ceremony was held in the 1956 Memorial Hall on campus.

The university was selected at the beginning of this year to be a multicultural education space by the Daejeon Metropolitan Office of Education, and opened a center for training married immigrant women as Korean language instructors.

The trainees attended courses in curriculum planning, teaching plan creation, simulated classes, teaching practice, and method of teaching Korean to multicultural families, and will teach the languages and cultures of their home countries in elementary schools and pre-schools.

Law school student hacked professor’s computer

December 24th, 2013 · Accidents, Crimes and Scandals, Education and ESL, Legal news · 0 comments

There are many ways to get ahead in law school. Hacking a professor’s computer to get the tests isn’t one of them. Original article in Korean is at this link.

A 24-year old first-year law student at Yonsei Law School was permanently expelled after being referred to a disciplinary committee for being caught hacking a professor’s research room computer in order to steal a test.

On the 23rd the Law School announced that the committee, composed of seven people including Dean Shin Hyeon-yun, convened at 1:00 PM that afternoon and decided the above punishment for the student, known as “A”.

The permanent expulsion is the harshest available punishment, which could have been a warning, placement on academic probation, or suspension. Accordingly, “A’s” school record will be erased and he will be barred from re-admission.

In addition to “A” receiving an F in every course in the previous semester, his merit-based scholarship this semester was revoked and his certificate of merit nullified.

“A” wrote in a statement to the disciplinary commitee that on the night of the 10th he entered the professor’s room and installed a hacking program, amd had done so several times in the previous semester.

The law school had discovered the installation of the hacking programs on the processor’s PC following a joint investigation with its IT department.

The disciplinary committee issued the highest possible punishment with the approval of the dean following a two-week period to consider “A’s” punishment.

The law school said that the possibility of pursuing criminal charges is being discussed with the school’s professors.

Dean Shin Hyeon-yun said that “after confirming the truth, this punishment was issued with all proper procedures… in the future, our school will be strictly applying a policy of zero tolerance to even the most minor infractions.”

On the 16th at the law school student community website Lawinus (로이너스), there were numerous posts discussing the rumors that “A” had been caught entering the research room to install a remote-control hacking program in order to steal the test questions for the semester’s final exam.

“A”, who graduated as the salutatorian from Seoul National University with a degree in management, had a perfect 4.3 GPA in the previous semester.

As soon as the truth came to light and there were rumors inside and outside of the school regarding whether the same method had been used on other exams in the past, the school referred “A” to the disciplinary committee immediately.

School violence reports topped 12,000… in April alone

June 17th, 2013 · Accidents, Crimes and Scandals, Education and ESL · 0 comments

Original article in Korean is at this link.

A study has found that the number of reports of physical violence reported to the 117 call center for school violence reports increased 9.2% and reports of verbal and psychological violence increased 6.3%.

According to the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology and the National Police Administration on the 17th, one year after the implementation of the 117 call center a total of 111,576 reports were received, an average of 9,298 per month and 305 per day. In April of this year alone there were 12,203 reports, the highest month ever.

Last year there were an average of 219.5 reports per day, which has increased 37.5% to 201.8 per day through May of this year.

95.3% of students are aware of the 117 call center as are 50% of parents, increased rates which account for the increased reports. Last year 65.8% of reports came from students involved in the reported cases, which increased to 68.8% this year. Last year 25% of reports came from parents against 20.9% this year.

29.1% of cases this year involved assaults, 23% involved verbal abuse, 9.7% involved threats and intimidation, and 5.9% involved ostracism. That order is the same as last year although this year violence increased 9.2% and verbal abuse 6.3%.

The authors of the report see this as being due to students engaging in more hidden verbal abuse due to large-scale government efforts to reduce school violence, and because in the past verbal abuse was not recognized as school violence and not actively reported.

Of the victims, 56.5% were elementary school students, an increase from 49.9% last year, while violence among middle school (27.7%) and high school (11.6%) abated.

86% of cases last year ended in outcomes such as advice or simple reports, but with tougher monitoring and the nationwide establishment of school violence police units and counselling centers the number of cases referred to police quickly doubled from 2.9% to 5.8%.

The government plans to establish counselling centers for victims and offenders nationwide, provide third-party communication and customized one-stop counselling services, and establish unified training for all members of relevant agencies who will provide counselling.

Law school growing more expensive in Korea

April 25th, 2013 · Education and ESL, Legal news · 0 comments

Original article in Korean is at this link.

In October of 2011, Mr. K (then 31 years old) died after jumping from the 15th floor of an apartment building in the Sanggye-dong neighborhood of Seoul. Mr. K, who had been a student at a law school in a province, appeared to have taken his own life while struggling with unmanageably high tuition bills. Mr. K had entered in law school in March after preparing for over 10 years for the bar exam with the support of his parents. Mr. K received a full scholarship in the first semester but his grades fell in the second semester and he had to pay five million won in tuition.

Mr. K’s extreme decision is one too complicated for explanation, but his suicide, partly driven by the high cost of attending law school, has sparked a “money school” debate. Ever since law schools opened their doors in 2009 there has been criticism of them as “money schools.” This is because some graduate schools have increased their tuition fees several times over.

In September Representative Yu Gi-hong of the Democratic United Party released statistics from the Ministry of Science, Education, and Technology showing that as of 2012 the average full-year tuition at a national law school was 10.04 million won, and 20.75 million won at a private law school. At the 25 law schools nationwide, tuition exceeds 20 million per year at six schools when including admissions fees. That means a three-year course of study takes over 60 million won. After adding up the money needed for daily life and the exams and qualifications needed to prepare for law school attendance, a person will need well over 100 million to matriculate at and graduate from a law school. (Yonsei University School of Law announced that “the 26.61 million won includes the one-time 3 million won matriculation fee… if the total tuition is calculated then over three years it is 21 million won.”)

Concerns over the high cost of law schools have persisted since their establishment. Law schools respond to this criticism with “promises” to increase scholarships and raise admissions rates for the economically disadvantaged. Law school accreditation standards specify that “the rate of scholarship support is to be 20%” and “5% of admissions must be to the economically disadvantaged.” A study found that scholarship rates over the three-year law school course are actually above 20%. However, there is increasing criticism that scholarship rates at law schools are not increasing, and are simply adhering to the “minimum standard.”

There is also the perspective that it is not only at law schools where money piles up. Mr. L, a student attending a law school in Seoul, said that “when I was preparing for the bar exam at the goshichon in Sillim-dong the fees were very high. From the lecture fees to daily life costs it’s an extremely expensive business, and so I couldn’t even count what I was spending.”

99% of Korean teachers oppose expansion of student rights

January 26th, 2013 · Education and ESL, Surveys and Studies · 0 comments

Source article in Korean is at this link.

“My home is far away, how am I supposed to change my clothes and come back. Is it alright if I just go home?”

Last year at high school “A” in the Jungnang-gu area of Seoul, arguments erupted between teachers and students every morning. Teachers would catch students coming to school without wearing their school uniforms. However, enforcement was in name only, with teachers unable to do anything more pointed than issue demerites. It was also difficult for them to take away students’ cellphones even if they used them during class.

With the execution of the students’ rights ordinance in an atmosphere in which teachers have greater difficulty offering guidance to students, students have come to completely ignore their teachers. One principal said that “even the ordinance says that students have to wear uniforms, but students don’t even think of it. All last year it appeared to have had a big effect on students, who seemed influenced to think that ‘regulations have weakened’.”

The Seoul students’ rights ordinance will have been in effect for one full year as of the 26th, and a study has found that nearly every teacher in the Seoul area thinks it should be either amended or overturned. This is because the ordinance, teachers say, has placed every Seoul-area school into a situation to that at high school “A”.

On the 21st and 22nd the Dong-A Ilbo and the Korean Federation of Teacher’s Associations surveyed 705 teachers in the Seoul area, finding that 87.2% believe the ordinance has worsened conditions at their schools. Over half, 55.7%, say the situation is “considerably worse” and 31.5% say it is “worse”. 9.8% believe things are “unchanged”, while 1.6% and 0.3%, respectively, believe things are either “better” or “considerably better”.

Similarly, the view of teachers that there has been a very negative effect leads in to the view that the job of guiding students has gotten tougher as well. Asked about what has been “the largest change since the ordinance”, 73.8% said that “guiding students has become difficult and the number of problem students has increased”. 1.1% said that “the structure of the educational environment has become more respectful of human rights” and 3.5% said that “students’ rights and obligations have expanded”, illustrating the low number of positive responses.

Asked about what has been the greatest difficulty in guiding students, 38.7% said “disruptions in class”, 32.9% said “the absence of control methods due to the ban on corporal punishment“. Also, 87.0% of teachers said that, due to the ordinance, they have either directly experienced, or heard from other teachers, that students no longer listen to correct guidance.

Accordingly, 58.9% of respondents said that “the ordinance must be amended or altered” and 40.0% said that “the ordinance must be overturned”.

Kim Dong-seok, spokesman for the KFTA, said of the survey findings that “many teachers feel that the ordinance has had negative effects on student guidance that have been greater than its proper function of developing students’ rights and responsibilities.”

With critical voices growing louder, it appears that debate will continue to engulf the ordinance.

Currently, the Ministry of Science, Education, and Technology is pursuing, to the Supreme Court, litigation for affirmation of nullity over the Seoul students’ rights ordinance. The reason is the violation of school’s freedoms. Last October Lee  Dae-yeong, former acting superintendent of education in Seoul,  sent an official notice to certain schools advising them that they should amend their school regulation in accordance with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act rather than the ordinance.

Mun Yong-rin, who was elected superintendent of education last year after pledging to amend the ordinance, recently said that “because of the students’ rights ordinance there have been an increasing number of cases of teachers having difficulty guiding students. I will send the city council proposed amendments after determining precisely which clauses of the ordinance are problematic.”

Cambridge International to prepare Korean students for American universities

January 21st, 2013 · Education and ESL · 0 comments

Source article in Korean is at this link.

Is it enough to be admitted to a domestic university? With the results of regular admissions coming out following the end of non-regular admissions for the 2013 school year, increasing numbers of parents and students have their eyes on overseas universities. Students who graduated in the third and fourth levels in high school can easily meet frustration if attempting to enter a top-10 university or a university in Seoul. However, in America (based on complete rankings) a student who graduates from the second through sixth levels can enter a university ranked from 30th to 150th. Chosun Education, an educational foundation created by Cambridge Korea and the Chosun Ilbo,  is making its Korean debut in the 16-year history of Cambridge International Special Admissions with a focus on the 30th to 150th ranked American universities. Beginning with 455 American universities, plus 170 in the United Kingdom, 45 in Canada, and 40 in Australia, there are 1,881 universities in 239 countries which have received A or AS levels of recognition by Cambridge International Examinations. Selected students study English and liberal arts courses in English, preparing them for easy adaptation to American university life.

The cost of a Gangnam-style education

January 17th, 2013 · Education and ESL · 0 comments

South Korea Gangnam

People stream into a street near Gangnam Station in Seoul, South Korea. Pic: AP.

Source article in Korean is at this link.

A study has found that three out of ten households in Gangnam-gu earn an average of five million won ($4,730) per month or more, and spend an average of 1.14 million won ($1,080) per month on private education.

Also, about 8% of the area’s households have a child who has studied abroad, at a cost of 50 million won per child.

Those statistics come from the local government’s 2011 statistics, published today. The statistics are compiled from 174 indicators in ten categories, including population, families, residences, education, and finances.

It was found that 27.5% of Gangnam households earn an average of five million won per month or more. 19.3% earn three to four million won, 18% earn two to three million won, and 17.6% earn four to five million won. 10.7% earn one to two million won, and 6.9% earn less than one million won.

78% of the population think of themselves as “at least middle class” in terms of political, economic, and social positions.

The average expenditure on private education is 1.14 million won per month. Households earning less than two million spend 710,000 won, while those earning at least ten million won spend 1.6 million won, showing that spending on education tends to rise with income. [But ponder those percentages. –KB]

Households with children in high school spend an average of 1.07 million won per month on private education. College graduates spend 1.08 million won, slightly more than high school graduates (1.03 million).

7.6% of households said they had had their children study overseas, at an average per-child cost of 48.577 million won. College students spend an average of 21.4 months studying abroad, middle school students 19.3 months, high school students 19.1 months, pre-schoolers 12.9 months, and elementary school students 11.6 months.

There were 1,965 recorded cram schools (hagwons), 7.1% higher than the 1,834 in 2010. That makes 3.5 cram schools per 1,000 Gangnam residents, 2.7 times higher than the figure of 1.3 for all of Seoul.

In 2010 30% of households were single-person, higher than the 24% figures for Seoul and nationwide. Half of female single-person households are unmarried women.

78% of residents are of economic age (15 – 64), slightly higher than the 76% for all of Seoul. 6.7% of the population was elderly, nearly twice the 3.5% nationwide figure.

There are 17 students per teacher, significantly lower than the nationwide (20.6) and Seoul (23.7) figures.

In Gangnam hospitals there were 24,535 foreign patients, 28% higher than the previous year, and there were 1.032665 million foreign guests, a 40% increase.

Korean police have plan to reduce bullying

January 10th, 2013 · Accidents, Crimes and Scandals, Education and ESL · 0 comments

Source article in Korean is at this link.

The Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency has prepared a “2013 School Violence Response Guideline” which involves school visit days and increased responsiveness to reports of school violence.

According to the guideline prepared by the Agency, police officers assigned to schools, honorary teachers, and “mother police” will each visit schools once a month to promote an anti-school violence campaign and increase joint patrols.

Also, education authorities, local governments, and civic groups will create school violence prevention councils to work together with local communities.

Promotional materials will be placed on the websites of local governments and cooperative agencies, and also on subway advertisements, to promote the 117 hotline. Activities will also tyake place in elementary, middle, and high schools and even in kindergartens.

Accordingly, each police station will operate guidance programs for students, and the program considered to be best will become the template for others.

In Korea, thieves target textbooks

January 9th, 2013 · Education and ESL · 0 comments

Source article in Korean is at this link.

Police are investigating after a report that a group of textbooks were stolen from a high school in Daejeon.

According to the Daegu Metropolitan Police Agency, at approximately 3pm on December 22 of last year at a high school the Gwanjeo-dong neighborhood, an unknown man and two women who appeared to be teenagers stole hundreds of textbooks and reference books belonging to students.

Investigators found that they entered the school on Saturday, taking advantage of the fact that students were gone, and evaded the security guard to enter classrooms and remove the books from lockers before escaping in a truck.

Students entering their senior year appear to be the main victims.

The school and the security agency both searched for the thieves, and confirmed that they made a report to police on the 7th, nearly two weeks after the fact.

Police are investigating closed-circuit camera footage and ascertaining the full extent of the theft.