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Police on Monday handed over the body of a billionaire, who owned a ferry that sank in southern waters and led to the loss of about 300 lives, to his family.The move came as police have effectively completed a probe into the mysterious death of Yoo Byung-eun, former chairman of Semo Group, the now-defunct predecessor of ferry operator Chonghaejin Marine Co.The body of 73 year-old Yoo was found in a green-plum field just outside Suncheon, about 450 kilometers south of Seoul, in June, amid a nationwide manhunt that went on for months since the April 16 tragedy. Yoo was the prime target of an intensive investigation into alleged corruption and other irregularities associated with the sinking of the 6,825-ton ferry Sewol. More than 300 people, mostly high school students, were killed or still missing.He was found dead in mid-June, but police failed to discover the exact cause of his death.“His body, which had been placed at the National Forensic Service, was handed over to the bereaved family at around 6:10 p.m.,” said an official at Sunscheon Police Station.A Christian sect co-founded by Yoo placed his body inside Geumsuwon, its headquarters in Anseong, about 80 kilometers south of Seoul, and it plans to hold a two-day funeral from Saturday, according to sources.The Evangelical Baptist Church, widely known as the Salvation Sect, however, has yet to release any official information on the body’s takeover or the funeral.
A Christian cult co-founded by Yoo Byung-eun, the late shipping tycoon blamed for April's ferry disaster, said Friday it is planning to hold his funeral next week following the anti-climactic discovery of his body two months ago.In June, the body of Yoo, a 73-year-old billionaire who practically owned the operator of the sunken ferry Sewol, was found in a plum field just outside Suncheon, about 450 kilometers south of Seoul, amid a nationwide manhunt that went on for months since the April 16 tragedy.Yoo is widely believed to have contributed to the ferry disaster by failing to abide by safety measures, which risked passengers' lives.The 6,825-ton ferry Sewol sank off the country's southwest coast on April 16, leaving 294 people dead, mostly high school students on a school excursion. As of Friday, 10 people remain unaccounted for.Lee Tae-jong, the spokesman for the Evangelical Baptist Church, also known as the Salvation Sect, said the exact date of Yoo's funeral is yet to be determined, though it will likely be next Saturday."We've narrowed it down to between Friday, Saturday and Sunday of next week, but Saturday is most likely because it's when most of our faithful come here," Lee said in a phone interview with Yonhap News Agency from Geumsuwon, a religious compound in Anseong, about 80 kilometers south of Seoul.The funeral will be held at the compound, though it is unclear for how long. The funeral of Kwon Shin-chan, the other co-founder of the Christian sect and the father-in-law of Yoo, lasted a day in 1996 in the same location, the spokesman said. ...
I thought all his family members were in jail?? Aug. 25, 2014: Police transfer Sewol owner’s body to his family
Police on Monday handed over the body of ferry owner Yoo Byung-eon to his family. The body had been in the hands of the National Forensic Service. A police spokesman said, "We've completed the autopsy and other necessary investigations, so the body was handed over to his family at their request." The body was handed over to Oh Gab-riel, Yoo's brother-in-law and former Korean ambassador to the Czech Republic since his immediate family are fugitive or under arrest.Yoo's body was found in a remote hillside in Suncheon, South Jeolla Province on June 12.Members of Yoo's crackpot cult plan a funeral late this month at the sect's sprawling compound south of Seoul. Police and prosecutors have been widely criticized for failing to identify Yoo's body at first, wasting about 40 days on a continuing manhunt while the body lay neglected in a morgue.The deceased, a chronically dishonest businessman and undischarged bankrupt, is regarded as the main culprit in the April 16 ferry disaster.
Yoo's eldest brother-in-law, Oh Gabriel (오갑렬; born c. 1955), married to Yoo's younger sister, Yoo Gyeong-hee (유경희; born c. 1958), was arrested with his wife on 19 June, allegedly for aiding Yoo's escape. The arrest came following testimony provided by two key adherents of the Evangelical Baptist Church that were arrested earlier in June, saying Oh drove Yoo out of the religious group's commune, Geumsuwon, on 23 April after police surrounded the compound. Oh, who served as the Korean ambassador to the Czech Republic from January 2010 through June 2013, reportedly played a significant role in garnering support for Yoo's photo exhibitions in France. Oh is currently under review by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs's disciplinary committee for allegations that he abused his authority to help Yoo hold a photo exhibition in France and other European countries. The Prosecution suspect that Oh contacted the French Embassy on behalf of Yoo. When questioned, Oh testified that Yoo's family and followers funded and gave him information about the authorities' movements
The two-day funeral of the late owner of the doomed ferry Sewol began Saturday, roughly two months after the wealthy religious leader on a nationwide manhunt was found dead in a remote mountain in southern South Korea.The official schedule for Yoo Byung-eun's funeral began at 10 a.m., joined by thousands of members of the Evangelical Baptist Church at a spacious compound owned by the Christian sect in Anseong, about 80 kilometers south of Seoul. Uninvited visitors, including the press, were denied access to the funeral.Immediate family members of Yoo, including those who have been temporarily released for the funeral, greeted mourners at an auditorium inside the compound, according to church sources.Mourners sang hymns as they watched video clips of the deceased ferry owner on jumbo screens set up at the makeshift funeral hall, the sources said. Police estimated the crowd at 2,000. ...Four family members -- his eldest son, wife, younger brother and brother-in-law -- were arrested on various corruption charges that officials said had contributed to the disaster and the high death toll. They were temporarily released from prison to attend the funeral.Police said they have dispatched 60 officers for close-distance surveillance of those four family members who were temporarily released. Authorities have also dispatched some 200 guards to oversee the religious compound in case of an emergency situation.
The four family members -- Yoo's eldest son, Yoo's wife, Yoo's younger brother and brother-in-law -- are restricted to their homes and attending the funeral and required to return to jail in Incheon, a port city west of Seoul, by 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Ferry owner Yoo Byung-eon was buried on Saturday at a sprawling compound south of Seoul owned by the crackpot religious cult he led. Yoo's body was found in a badly decomposed state on June 12 in a remote field in southwestern Korea.The entrance to the compound was bustling on Saturday morning with buses and cars carrying thousands of followers. Private security guards were posted at the gate checking whether guests had invitations.Followers at the ceremony were mostly in their 40s or over but included some teenagers and foreigners. Around 400 police were stationed near the compound.According to accounts from guests, groups of 10 people at a time were allowed to walk up to a memorial altar to place flowers and offer their condolences. A large screen was set up behind the altar showing images of Yoo and photographs he took in his bid to establish himself as a photographer of international renown. The guests were greeted by his brother-in-law Oh Gab-riel, a former ambassador to the Czech Republic, instead of son Yoo Dae-kyun. Yoo Dae-kyun was on temporary release from police custody and was at one point spotted sitting by himself next to a private bathroom near the altar, sobbing with his head bowed.Yoo's widow, Kwon Yun-ja, was also granted temporary release from police custody but apparently stayed out of view during the funeral and remained in a separate room with other family members.Around 4,000 people attended the funeral. After the ceremony, Yoo's body was buried on a hill overlooking the compound. One cult member in his 30s said, "Many female followers were crying all throughout the ceremony." Another follower claimed prosecutors were responsible for Yoo's death after placing a bounty on his head and hunting him across the nation.The shady businessman and cult leader is widely held responsible for the April 16 ferry disaster that killed around 300 people.Yoo Dae-kyun, the tycoon's younger brother Byung-ho (61), his widow and another brother-in-law Kwon Oh-gyun (64), who were all granted temporary leave from police custody, met after the funeral to discuss the fate of the cult. They were taken back to jail in Incheon at around 7 p.m. Sunday.