This morning I spoke with our son who lives and works in S. Korea. He told me that people are forbidden to go out in public without a mask.
He began to tell me about a Cult in the southern region of Korea, who the government is holding responsible for the current outbreak of Coronavirus in that country. Our son lives and works in Seoul, which is in the north.
I had not read about this, so immediately I began researching. It did not take me long to find it – and the biggest story was in The NY Times – which I do not ordinary use as a source.
To say that this is alarming would be a gross understatement
Brethren, whenever you read the word “church” as describing this CULT – remember that you are reading from The NY Times.
As the country’s infection numbers soar, most cases have been connected to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, which mainstream churches consider a cult.
SEOUL, South Korea — At meetings of the secretive Shincheonji Church of Jesus, worshipers sit packed together on the floor, forbidden to wear glasses — or face masks. They come to church even when sick, former members say. After services, they split up into groups for Bible study, or to go out into the streets and proselytize.
After the first coronavirus infection was reported among its members, they were told to lie about being followers, though the church later said that was not its policy.
Now, health officials are zeroing in on the church’s practices as they seek to contain South Korea’s alarming coronavirus outbreak, in which members of Shincheonji, along with their relatives and others who got the virus from them, account for more than half of the confirmed infections. On Saturday, the number of cases in the country soared to 346 — second only to mainland China, if the outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship is excluded from Japan’s count.
More than 1,250 other church members have reported potential symptoms, health officials said, raising the possibility that the nation’s caseload could soon skyrocket further. In response, the government is shutting down thousands of day-care facilities, nursing homes and community centers, even banning the outdoor political rallies that are a feature of life in downtown Seoul.
As of Saturday, more than 700 members of Shincheonji, which mainstream South Korean churches consider a cult, still could not be reached, according to health officials, who were frantically hoping to screen them for signs of infection.
“Shincheonji members know of their bad image and they usually hide their affiliation from nonchurch members, even from their parents,” said Hwang Eui-jong, a pastor who has researched the church. “No wonder many of them are unreachable. They must be huddled together somewhere, praying that this will eventually go away.”
The snowballing outbreak among the church’s followers is testing South Korea’s health care system, which successfully tamed a deadly outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome in 2015. Experts on South Korean religious sects and former members of the church said its practices made its members unusually vulnerable to contagious diseases.
“Unlike other churches, Shincheonji makes its members sit on the floor tightly together during services, in neat, militarylike ranks and files,” said Lee Ho-yeon, who left the church in 2015. “We were not supposed to have anything on our faces, like glasses or masks. We were trained to sing our hymns loudly.”
“We were taught not to be afraid of illness,” Ms. Lee said. “We were taught not to care about such worldly things like jobs, ambition or passion. Everything was focused on proselytizing, even when we were sick.”
The outbreak has struck hardest at Shincheonji’s church in Daegu, a city of about 2.5 million in the country’s southeast, where a 61-year-old woman known as Patient No. 31 is believed to be a link between many of the cases. The restrictions on public gatherings have been implemented more forcefully in Daegu than elsewhere in the country.
Patient No. 31 checked into a small Daegu hospital on Feb. 7, after a minor traffic accident. The next day, she complained of a sore throat. The day after that — a Sunday — she attended a Shincheonji church service, health officials say.
She developed a fever the next day, one that lingered, and she stayed in the hospital. Still, she slipped out the following Sunday to go to church again. At least 1,000 Shincheonji members attended one of those two Sunday services, officials said.
At least twice, doctors recommended that the woman transfer to a bigger hospital to be tested for the coronavirus, but she refused, health officials said. She insisted that she had not visited China in recent months, nor had she met anyone known to have the virus.
Finally, on Monday, she felt sick enough to check into a government-run clinic for a coronavirus test. On Tuesday, she was confirmed to be infected.
“Her behavior is not surprising to people familiar with the church,” said Chung Yun-seok, an expert on religious cults who runs the website Christian Portal News. “To them, getting sick is a sin because it prevents them from doing God’s work.”
The church dismissed criticism of its practices on Friday, calling it “slandering based on the prejudices among the established churches.” It said its members sat close together on the floor because local authorities would not give it permits to build bigger churches.
Health officials were still trying to figure out how Patient No. 31 contracted the disease. Mr. Hwang noted that the church had been proselytizing among ethnic Koreans in northeastern China, many of whom it invited to South Korea.
Jung Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the authorities were investigating reports that Shincheonji had operations in Hubei, the Chinese province that includes Wuhan, where the virus emerged. The South Korean news agency Newsis reported on Friday that Shincheonji had opened a church in Wuhan last year, and that references to it had been removed from the church’s website. Church officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
South Korean officials learned that Patient No. 31 had visited Cheongdo, a county near Daegu, in early February. As of Saturday, 108 patients and medical staff at a Cheongdo hospital had tested positive for the coronavirus; two of them died this week.
Cheongdo is the birthplace of Lee Man-hee, the 88-year-old self-styled messiah who founded Shincheonji, and followers regularly go on pilgrimages there and do volunteer work. Church members are also believed to have attended the funeral of Mr. Lee’s brother in Cheongdo in early February.
On Friday, Newsis quoted Patient No. 31 as saying that she had not visited the hospital or attended the funeral, but that she had used a public bathhouse while in Cheongdo.
“We need a thorough investigation of the people who attended the church services and the funeral,” President Moon Jae-in said on Friday while presiding over an emergency meeting on the outbreak.
After the case of Patient No. 31 was first reported, social media messages went out to Shincheonji members telling them to continue their evangelical work in small groups. The messages also told members that if officials asked, they should deny that they belonged to the church or went to its services.
But the church later said those messages did not reflect its official policy, and that it had disciplined the person who sent them out.
On Friday, Mr. Lee urged his members to “follow the government’s instructions,” asking them to avoid gatherings and take their proselytizing online.
“This disease outbreak is the work of the devil, which is hellbent on stopping the rapid growth of the Shincheonji,” he said in a message to his followers.
South Korea has long been fertile ground for unorthodox religious groups, some of which have amassed enormous wealth and influence. After an overloaded ferry sank in 2014, killing more than 300 people, South Koreans were shocked to learn that the ferry company was controlled by a religious leader who had been shunned as a heretic by mainstream churches.
Shincheonji claims 150,000 members and has 12 congregations in South Korea. It also has many smaller operations, which present themselves as cafes or churches of other denominations and are used for proselytizing, said Mr. Chung.
Shincheonji has long been criticized for its aggressive evangelical work. Many mainstream churches post signs warning undercover Shincheonji missionaries not to try to infiltrate their congregations.
Members of Shincheonji have recently targeted young South Koreans, offering them free tarot readings, personality tests and foreign-language classes, according to Mr. Hwang.
Moon Yoo-ja, 60, who spent years trying to “rescue” her daughter from the church, accused Shincheonji of ruining many families.
“Once they fall into the trap of the church, they often abandon school and jobs,” Ms. Moon said. “Some housewives packed up and joined the church, abandoning their husbands and children.”
Hwang Gui-hag, editor in chief of the Seoul-based Law Times, which specializes in religious news, cautioned against focusing too much on Shincheonji’s practices, some of which he said could be found in other South Korean churches.
“This is essentially not a religious issue, but a medical and health issue,” Mr. Hwang said. “If we pay too much attention to religion, we miss the point. How would you explain the huge outbreak in Wuhan, China, which is not really caused by any church?” source
I just found another source in Korea which I think is very important for the readers to see:
Korea’s virus cases surge to 433 on church services, cluster outbreak at hospital
South Korea reported 229 new cases of the the new coronavirus on Saturday, the largest spike in a single day since its first outbreak in late January, bring the total number of infection in the nation to 433.
The number of COVID-19 infections here has soared in the past few days, with most infections traced to a hospital in the southeastern county of Cheongdo and a minor Christian sect (Cult) in the south easters city of Daegu, which constitutes some 80% of the total infections here.
Daegu, where the 2.5 million inhabitants have been asked to stay indoors, and neighboring Cheongdo were designated as a “Special Management Zones”on Friday.
Of the 229 new cases, 95 are related to Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo, where the South Korea’s first Coronavirus fatally occurred, the Korean Center for Disease, Control and Prevention [KCDC] said.
A 63 year old man, who died of pneumonia at the hospital on Wednesday, posthumously tested positive for the virus.
On Friday, another patient died from the Coronavirus at a hospital in Busan after being transferred from Daenam Hospital, the second death from the virus in South Korea.
The Public Health Agency said 62 new cases are tied to the minor Christian Sect (CULT) known as Shincheonji in Daegu, about 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, and neighboring north Gyeongsag Province and other areas.
So far, a total of 114 virus cases– 9 hospital staff and 102 patients — have been reported from Daenam Hospital, and so -called cohort isolation, the shut down of an entire medical institution to prevent the spread of an infectious disease, was in place for the hospital, according to the health authorities.
The health authorities said 231 virus patients have been traced to the Shincheonji church’s services in Daegu, according to the KCDC.
The KCDC said it has placed a total of 9336 Shincheonji members in self quarantine. Among them, 544 people suspected of having contracted the virus are being tested for the virus.
The country’s 31st patient, a probable “Super spreader” had attended the Cults worship services in Daegu, and the 61 year old South Korean woman, who tested positive for the virus earlier this week, us believed to have infected others.
But the health authorities said earlier that it is uncertain whether the patient is the source of the cluster outbreak. The health authorities vowed to make more containment efforts as the potentially fatal illness spreads fast across the country.
The Health Ministry said it will allow hospitals to separate repiratory patients from others in an effort to prevent human-to- human transmissions and will also check all pneumonia patients in Daegu hospitals.
Despite the surge and the number of infections here, the authorities said they will maintain the virus alert at the 3rd-highest, or (Orange) level, but the virus response will be carried out with an urgency appropriate to the (Red) level.
“Community spread of infections began in some limited areas, and we believe that Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province are in a special situation.” Vice, Health and Welfare Minister Kim Kang-lip told reporters on Saturday.
In a sign that the virus may further spread nationwide, other provinces, including Jeju, Chungcheong and North Jeolla, reported cases. Gyeonggi Province also reported more new cases.
Four virus cases were reported in Busan, South Korea’s second largest city with a population of 3.4 million, the first cases in the city since the country reported the first case of COVID-19 on January 20th.
So far, South Korea has released 18 fully recovered Novel Corona Virus patients from hospitals, the KCDC said.The number of people being checked for the virus and under quarantine came to 6,037 up from 5,481 on Saturday morning, KCDC said. The country has tested a total of 21,153 suspected cases, with 15,1016 testing negative.
Most Virus-infected patients are stable, but about 9 patients with underlying illnesses are in relatively critical conditions, the health authorities said (YONHAP) source
This is really hitting home with us, having our son living in Korea. We are praying for him and all people in Korea and in China and every country were this virus is being detected.
Please pray, brethren. However this began (there are so many theories) it is so terrible scary.
Everything we are seeing was told to us by our Lord Jesus. These things would happen in the last days; and so they are.
We are blessed to know that no matter what, when we leave this earth, either by death or Rapture – we will be with our Glorious Savior for Eternity.
Pray for the lost and share the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ with them!