A South Korean cult leader was convicted Thursday for the multiple rape of eight female followers — some of whom believed he was God — and jailed for 15 years.
Pastor Lee Jaerock’s victims were “unable to resist as they were subject to the accused’s absolute religious authority”, judge Chung Moon-sung told the Seoul Central District Court.
Religious devotion is widespread in technologically advanced South Korea, with 44 percent of people identifying themselves as believers.
Most belong to mainstream churches, which can accumulate wealth and influence with tens of thousands of followers donating as much as 10 percent of their income.
But fringe groups are also widespread — experts say around 60 people in the country claim to be divine — and some have been implicated in fraud, brainwashing, coercion, and other behaviour associated with cults worldwide. Read more