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April 23, 2014, 12:51:00 PM
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Offline Peter

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The Sewol's Cult Connection
« on: April 23, 2014, 12:51:00 PM »
Well, this came as a surprise. I read the following article earlier today, and to say my curiosity was piqued by the last sentence would be an understatement:

http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/news/2014/04/23/0200000000AEN20140423003400315.html
Quote
Prosecutors raided offices of the ill-fated ferry Sewol's operator and its affiliates, as well as the residence of the firm's owner Wednesday as part of their probe into what caused the country's worst maritime disaster in 20 years.

Investigators raided the Cheonghaejin Marine Co., the operator of the ship Sewol, and the residence of its owner Yoo Byung-eun, a former chief of Semo Marine Co., as well as some 20 offices of its affiliates and religious groups believed to be related to the owner family in Seoul and the city of Incheon.
That led me to this Korea Times article which offers some creepy more details:
Quote
Financial regulators have launched a joint investigation with customs and tax officials into Chonghaejin Marine, the operator of the sunken ferry Sewol, and its owner family. The shipping firm’s majority stakeholder is Chonhaiji, a small shipbuilder controlled by I-One-I Holdings. Major shareholders of the holding firm include two sons of a 73-year-old mysterious businessman, Yoo Byung-eun....

He was also known as a pastor who led a Christian cult. He was sentenced to four years in prison in 1992 in connection with a mass suicide case, in which 32 followers of a different cult were found dead in a factory in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province. The cult's leader, Park Soon-ja, had close ties with Yoo.
Million dollar questions at the moment are what cult did he/does he lead and what role did he play in:
Quote
Mass Murder in S. Korea May Be Tied to Cult, Swindle
The bound and gagged bodies of 33 people who were linked to a religious cult were found stacked in two piles in a factory attic Saturday after an apparent murder-suicide pact, authorities said. Police said the bodies were discovered in the attic of a factory cafeteria in Yongin, about 50 miles south of Seoul. Officers said the victims had been dead for up to two days.
Park Soon-ja made this list of top ten creepiest cult leaders, and that's no mean feat:
May 31, 2014: Updated link (What happened to the original link?) https://web.archive.org/web/20131021133405/http://www.smashinglists.com/top-10-creepiest-cult-leaders/
Quote
One of the hallmarks of a cult leader is that they often take the role of parent to their followers – who have often been cut off from their own parents. Park Soon-ja, of the Paradise cult, was a prime example of this, as her disciples called her “Benevolent Mother”. She preached that the end of the world was nigh, but that she knew a way for her disciples to get to heaven without dying. She lived with her followers in her factory in Yongin, South Korea and they made Korean ornaments and toys for tourists. They rarely ventured out of the forest.

Trouble started brewing in 1987 in the form of a $8.7m fraud investigation, and on August 29th, Park Soon-ja, her 3 grown-up children, and 28 others were found dead inside the factory. They had been drugged and strangled in what appeared to be a mass suicide. And so ended the reign of Korea’s most notorious cult leader.
A little more courtesy of Pinterest:
Quote
"Paradise" cult leader Park Soon-ja (Yongin, South Korea) preached that the world was corrupt and about to be destroyed. In August 1987, Park, her three adult children and 28 others were found dead in the factory by her husband. The bodies were in a pile, many with rope or cloths tied around their necks. The presence of bottles of drugs at the crime scene led police to believe that the cultists ingested the drugs before strangling each other. The last to die hanged himself.
Some more details here (Link Updated Feb. 2016) and in the photos of the articles below:
Quote
Paradise cult leader Park Soon-ja, 48, called "Benevolent Mother" by her followers, preached that the world was corrupt and about to be destroyed, but that her followers could get to heaven without dying. She and her flock lived and worked in Park's factory, located in an isolated wooded area in Yongin, South Korea, (pictured on map) where they made ornate Korean chests, pottery and toys to sell to tourists. Park told her followers that she spoke for God and that He wanted them to give her all their possessions.

She came to the attention of law enforcement after two former cultists were beaten when they asked for their belongings back. In 1987 Park was under investigation by authorities for allegedly swindling $8.7 million from 220 of her followers. On August 29 Park, her three adult children and 28 others were found dead in the factory by her husband. The bodies were in a pile, many with rope or cloths tied around their necks. The presence of bottles of drugs at the crime scene led police to believe that the cultists ingested the drugs before strangling each other. The last to die hanged himself.



April 23, 2014, 01:18:11 PM
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Offline Peter

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Re: The Sewol's Cult Connection
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2014, 01:18:11 PM »
Does this have anything to do with the sinking? Well, who knows at this stage, but if there is a cult behind the ferry company you would expect a very dysfunctional top-down management structure that isn't too concerned with things like safety. Whatever impact that had or didn't have on the procedures and operations of the Sewol, there is certainly one very shady character at the top of its food chain. I wonder what his first thoughts were upon hearing of the sinking.

April 23, 2014, 01:41:43 PM
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Offline Peter

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Re: The Sewol's Cult Connection
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2014, 01:41:43 PM »
I guess this is old news...

Quote
The owners, reported to be a 42-year-old surnamed Yoo and his brother have not responded at all to the ferry crisis. The two owners are sons of Yoo Byeong-eon, former CEO of the bankrupt Semo ferry cruise company, which operated boat trips on the Han River in Seoul until 1997.

Yoo Byeong-eon was an evangelical pastor in Korea and a member of a religious cult, making him a suspect in the cult’s 1987 mass suicide-murder.

On Aug. 29, 1987, the bound and gagged bodies of 33 people were found stacked in two piles in a factory in Yongin, Gyeonggi, about 50 miles south of Seoul, in what appeared to be a murder-suicide linked to the cult. It is still a mystery whether the 33 people committed suicide or were murdered.

Yoo was investigated by the authority as a possible head figure of the pseudo-Christian cult, and in 1992 he was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment on fraud charges related to the mass murder-suicide incident....


According to the Financial Supervisory Service, Chonghaejin is owned by Chonhaiji, which specializes in producing container ships, oil tankers, bulk carriers and LNG ships. Chonhaiji is owned by I-ONE-I Holdings.

The largest shareholders of I-ONE-I Holdings are Yoo Dae-kyun, the eldest son of Chonghaejin’s former Chairman Yoo Byeong-eon, and Yoo Hyuk-ki, his second son, who together hold 19.44 percent of shares.

Kim Hye-kyung, a 6.29 percent shareholder, is the wife of Yoo Byeong-eon. There are seven affiliates under I-ONE-I Holdings, including Chonghaejin Marine Company and Chonhaiji.

And more here including a much larger number for the stake the brothers hold in I-One-I Holdings....
Quote
They are brothers, surnamed Yoo, who have a combined 38.88 percent stake in I-One-I Holdings, a management consulting firm that is a part owner of Chonghaejin Marine Co.

Chonhaiji, a shipyard block assembler owned by I-One-I, is the biggest shareholder in the Sewol ferry operator with a 39.4 percent stake, followed by Chonghaejin Marine Co. president Kim Han-sik’s 11.6 percent and I-One-I’s 7.1 percent ownership, according to a regulatory audit filing.

The Yoo brothers, who have remained out of sight during the catastrophe, have been banned from traveling overseas as authorities expanded the scope of their investigations amid the public outcry against the ferry company and its key figures, including the captain and president Kim.

What is more interesting is that the Yoo brothers have been found to be the sons of Yoo Byeong-eon, who has been linked to an unsolved case involving loan sharking, a religious cult and a mass suicide in 1987.

Back then, the senior Yoo was a priest of an underground religious cult with close ties to former President Chun Doo-hwan, and ran a company that operated ferries on the Han River until it went bankrupt.

Yoo was one of prime suspects questioned over the 1987 incident when investigators uncovered more than 30 dead bodies of members of a religious cult, which he was affiliated with.


Investigators then pursued various leads to determine whether the case involved mass murder or suicide.

In the end, the case was left unsolved, and the elder Yoo was sentenced to four years in prison on charges of fraud that were traced back to loan sharking, which was then mostly part of unregulated business related to organized crime.

Now, his two sons, who had carried out the family business with lax safety measures, will be sitting under strong lighting for questioning, along with 40 other key figures, including Chonghaejin Marine Co. president Kim and crew members.

CNN mentioned Mr. Yoo and the growing pressure he is under but made no mention of his conviction and links to the mass suicide/murder:
Quote
Investigators also searched offices of 20 organizations affiliated with Cheonghaejin Marine Co. as well as the home of Yoo Byung-eun, a billionaire whose family appears to control the company, according to the semiofficial Yonhap News Agency.

This Huffington Post piece mentions the fraud conviction but makes no mention of the cult:
Quote
Yoo was jailed for four years in the early 1990s, according to court proceedings at the time, for his role in colluding with one of his employees to defraud a group of people of 1.2 billion won ($1.15 million).

The 73-year-old is typical of the entrepreneurs who helped transform South Korea from one of the poorest countries in the world to one of the richest in a generation, a process dubbed "The Miracle on the Han River" after the river that runs through the capital Seoul.

"Yoo had business skills. Once he took over a bankrupt textile company and then expanded it into toy exports. Later he even got a state award for strong export performance and further expanded into shipbuilding and ferry operation," said a source who had worked for Yoo for nearly a decade.

Yoo and his sons did not respond to requests for comment on the company's history. No one would go on the record to discuss the family or their business interests.

April 24, 2014, 10:41:33 PM
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Offline Peter

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Re: The Sewol's Cult Connection
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2014, 10:41:33 PM »
Yoo's cult was finally named and apparently most of the crew are members. Geez, it doesn't get much weirder than this:

Quote
Prosecutors said Thursday they are tracking a flow of money from a mysterious religious group to the operator of a capsized ferry, as part of their widening investigation into the cause of the deadly accident.

Prosecutors suspect that funds from members of the religious group, the Evangelical Baptist Church, were used in business operations of Cheonghaejin Marine Co. and Yoo Byung-eun, a billionaire man whose family appears to control the shipping company.

Nine days after the deadly sinking of the 6,825-ton ferry Sewol in southwestern waters, which is likely to be recorded as one of the country's worst maritime disasters, at least 171 passengers have been confirmed dead, with some 130 others still missing.

On Wednesday, investigators of the Incheon District Prosecutors' Office raided the head office of Cheonghaejin Marine, the Sewol's operator based in the coastal city of Incheon, just west of Seoul, and some 20 offices of its affiliates, as well as the office of the Evangelical Baptist Church in Yongsan, central Seoul.

Prosecutors said they are analyzing accounting books seized from the church, suspecting that the religious group has exercised influence over the company's management.

The church was established by chief Yoo's father-in-law, Kwon Sin-chan, in the 1960s and is led by Yoo. It is considered as a cult with some 20,000 followers, including most of the senior officials of Cheonghaejin's affiliates and most of the Sewol's crew.

Yoo was also previously a member of the religious cult called Odaeyang, making him a suspect in the cult's 1987 mass suicide-murder. More than 30 people from his group were found dead, bound and gagged in a factory outside of Seoul. Investigators, however, found no evidence tying the event to Yoo.

I just started looking for information about Kwon Sin-chan. A quick initial search didn't yield much except copies of the above article and a few older mentions on two sites that concern the Good News Baptists/IYF Korean cult. And I'm not entirely sure it's the same guy. The IYF cult could have just happened to have a senior pastor with the same name.

http://www.goodnews.or.kr/en/GoodNews/0408/Salvation.pdf

And in the comments here: http://esfes1025.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/pure-evil/
Quote
“Gu won pa” was a derogatory name for a handful of evangelical gospel ministries in 1960′s Korea, which became very successful despite their independence from mainline denominations.

They were vilified and accused of being a cult because they rejected salvation through various forms of church-sanctioned sacramentalism, a stance that was a radical departure from the cultural norm at the time.

Instead the Salvationists championed genuine Christian conversions based on faith alone in Christ alone, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit through scripture alone, rather than uninformed prayers and heartless creedalism.

Having learned under pastor Kwon Shin Chan, I now see that what lacked in his doctrine was the holiness/attributes of God, a more robust Christology, more emphasis on sanctification and less on eschatology. And he should have been less scathing to the mainliners. After all, without Christ’s salvation they will burn.

http://goodnewsmission.net/?p=632

April 24, 2014, 11:12:04 PM
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Offline Peter

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Re: The Sewol's Cult Connection
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2014, 11:12:04 PM »
More here:

Quote
Following the financial regulators’ probe, up to 44 executives and shareholders of Chonghaejin Marine Company were banned from leaving the country on Tuesday, including CEO Kim Han-shik, who vanished from the public eye after a news conference last Thursday.

Prosecutors also vowed to verify whether the owner family and the operator are liable for compromising emergency preparedness and safety training for the ill-fated ferry.

The local media reported that the shipping company spent only 540,000 won last year to train its staff in safety measures.

Prosecutors are also looking into whether Yoo bribed high-ranking officials to conceal his companies’ unlawful practices. He is also accused of forcing members of a religious cult to buy shares of his companies. Also searched was a building in Yongsan District used by the cult. Yoo is reportedly the leader of a pseudo-Christian cult and is currently accused of forcing members of his cult to invest in companies run by him and his sons.

Prosecutors investigated Yoo in 1987 on suspicions that he was behind a mass suicide of 32 religious believers. At that time, he served as a minister of the cult.

Local media outlets also reported that many employees of the Yoo family’s companies and subsidiaries are members of the cult.

But prosecutors said the current investigation is not focused on Yoo’s role as a religious figure.

“We know that people are interested in the issue,” said a prosecutor at the Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office. “But the focus is the company’s financial irregularities,” the prosecutor said.

And here, a rare photo...


April 24, 2014, 11:39:42 PM
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Offline Peter

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Re: The Sewol's Cult Connection
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2014, 11:39:42 PM »
Quote
The local media reported that the shipping company spent only 540,000 won last year to train its staff in safety measures.

That's about $US 500. I spent more than that last year at Starbucks.
 

April 25, 2014, 12:08:32 AM
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Offline Peter

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Re: The Sewol's Cult Connection
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2014, 12:08:32 AM »
Most detailed article about the cult to date (that I've read)..
http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20140424001313&mod=skb

Quote
Amid a stepped-up probe into the sinking of the ferry Sewol, prosecutors have raided the Seoul headquarters of a religious group called the Salvation Sect, thought to be led by the true owner of the ill-fated ship.

Yoo Byeong-eon, a former chief of Semo Group, is believed to be leading the sect and presumed to be a veiled owner of Chonghaejin Marine, the much-criticized operator of the Sewol.

Prosecutors have been tracing Yoo’s financial assets in an apparent attempt to hold him responsible for the massive compensation for the victims of the ferry disaster and their families. Human error is being blamed for the sinking that left nearly 300 people dead or missing.

Along with Yoo, many senior employees of Chonghaejin Marine including the captain of the doomed ferry are devout members of the Salvation Sect. Investigators suspect that the sect is a financial foundation for Yoo and his business entities.

Reports said that Yoo began his businesses to help members of his religious group to gain jobs and to increase his personal wealth. He reportedly made business funds from church members’ offerings and investments, and took out loans with his church’s real estates being held as collateral.

The sect was established in the 1960s by Pastor Kwon Sin-chan, Yoo’s father-in-law. It has been divided into three offshoots including the Evangelical Baptist Church.

The sect has some 100 churches in Korea and about 200,000 members worldwide. Unlike other Christian organizations, the group is alleged to focus little on repentance ― a reason why it is seen as a heretical cult.

Speculation is rampant that loyal members of the sect have been engaged in a large pyramid sales scheme. Investigators have raided the headquarters of Dapanda, a multilayered marketing firm employing loyalists from the sect.

With nearly 60 branches across the country, Dapanda sells various items ranging from cosmetics to health food and kitchen products. The firm is thought to have thrived and secured stable marketing routes with backing from the sect’s devout members.

Dapanda's website: http://www.dapanda.co.kr/

April 25, 2014, 12:39:30 AM
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Offline Peter

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Re: The Sewol's Cult Connection
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2014, 12:39:30 AM »
The cult was actually mentioned (briefly) in a translation of a Korean article I asked the folks at Korea Beat for last month (before the sinking) about cults on Korean campuses:

Quote
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.

The Park Ock-soo faction is the IYF group mentioned above.

April 25, 2014, 01:06:46 AM
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Re: The Sewol's Cult Connection
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2014, 01:06:46 AM »
A longer article about the 1987 mass suicide/murder:

Quote
The bound and gagged bodies of 33 people who were linked to a religious cult were found stacked in two piles in a factory attic Saturday after an apparent murder-suicide pact, authorities said.

Police said the bodies were discovered in the attic of a factory cafeteria in Yongin, about 50 miles south of Seoul. Officers said the victims had been dead for up to two days.

''The investigation is still going on but there are suspicions that it was a religious incident,'' a local police officer told The Associated Press by telephone. The tourist souvenir factory was owned by Park Soon-ja, 48, the cult leader who was called ''Benevolent Mother'' by her followers, authorities said. Mrs. Park claimed God appeared to her and told her to seek followers, they said.

The sect claimed to be Christian and preached that the world was about to come to an end. It demanded extreme spiritual discipline and blind obedience, police said.

Some Korean news reports said Mrs. Park and her three children were among the dead, but authorities would not confirm the report. Mrs. Park disappeared last Wednesday after police began investigating accusations that she swindled $8.7 million from about 220 people, many of them apparently involved in the cult.

Heavily armed police surrounded the factory as officers and forensic experts examined the bodies and the factory complex for evidence. The bodies were discovered by Mrs. Park's husband, Lee Ki-Jung, some news reports said.

The hands and feet of most of the dead were tied together and cloth or rope was tied around their necks, police said. Tissue paper and cloth were stuffed into many of the victims' nostrils and mouths.

Police said the bodies were stacked atop the other in two large piles - 14 bodies in one, 19 bodies in the other. Many of the victims were scantily clothed in underwear or pyjamas.

Korean television networks reported from the scene that many of the dead appeared to have been strangled or poisoned and their necks were badly bruised. The MBC network reported that one person wearing rubber gloves strangled or poisoned the others then killed himself or herself. It said the victims appeared not to have resisted, adding that rubber gloves and drug bottles were found near the bodies.

KBS, the state television network, said 29 women and four men died. Other reports said the dead included children.
Police said a maid at the factory told them that Mrs. Park had been hiding in the attic since Wednesday. The maid said she had been taking food to Mrs. Park once a day and last saw her Friday.

Mrs. Park ran a charity for orphans, homeless elderly people and the poor in the central Korean city of Taejon.

Korean news reports indicated Mrs. Park and aides indoctrinated charity recipients into the cult. Some reports suggested poor people and children were used as laborers in the Yongin factory, which made ornate traditional Korean furniture for sale to foreign tourists. Many cult followers appeared to have loaned Mrs. Park large sums of money, the reports added.

Police began investigating the cult Aug. 16, following reports that two people were beaten by Mrs. Park's followers after demanding their money be returned, officials said.

Thirteen officials of Mrs. Park's Odaeyang Trading Co. were arrested in connection with the beatings and remain in custody, police said. After the arrests other people started to complain about being unable to get back their money, they said.

Police said Mrs. Park and about 80 followers fled Taejon when police started to investigate the allegations. Officers said they searched the factory Friday and found 49 men, women and children hiding there, but not the cult leader and her top aides.

Mrs. Park, who claimed God cured her of cancer, was a prominent member of the city elite and was involved in numerous social activities. She received many citations for charitable work, including awards from the government, according to news reports. Her husband is a senior provincial government official.

April 25, 2014, 01:10:39 AM
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Offline Peter

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Re: The Sewol's Cult Connection
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2014, 01:10:39 AM »
And another new mention in this Business Korea article:

Quote
The former CEO is one of the masterminds of the Odaeyang scandal that broke out back in 1987, in which 32 cult members committed collective suicide. At that time, he was under suspicion of leading the cult and accumulating huge personal debts. The prosecutors’ office failed to prove the former, and he was jailed for only four years. The scandal led to the bankruptcy of the Semo Group in 1997, and people became less and less interested in his family and company before the recent sinking of the Sewol ferry.

April 25, 2014, 10:08:45 AM
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Re: The Sewol's Cult Connection
« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2014, 10:08:45 AM »
CNN has some interesting new details about Mr. Yoo that makes him sound like Korea's answer to L. Ron Hubbard. And the video in that link shows footage of Mr Yoo last year and around the time of the mass suicide/murder. Particularly interesting is the footage of him at the time surrounded by minders/body guards. I've yet to encounter a Korean messiah who does't have a security entourage.

Quote
He's known as "the millionaire with no face." And South Korean officials apparently have questions for him...
More recently, South Korean media accounts have identified him as a photographer and artist who goes by the name "Ahae."

A biography on the site describes Ahae as the chairman of 123 Farm, an organic lavender farm on the grounds of the Highland Springs Resort in California. A 2006 Los Angeles Times article names Yoo as chairman of the board of a South Korean company that owns the resort.

The biography also describes Ahae as an entrepreneur who once designed ships that traveled the Han River.
True to Yoo's nickname, Ahae doesn't show his face on the website. He only appears from behind, photographing nature scenes in his trademark style -- out an open window of his South Korean studio.

According the website bio, Ahae was born in 1941 in Japan, where his family was during Japanese colonial rule of Korea. That would make him 72 or 73. The biography describes Ahae as "an inventor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, environmental activist, martial artist, painter, sculptor, poet, and photographer."

He also has an interest in farming. In addition to the California lavender farm, Ahae supervises two organic tea plantations in South Korea, according to the bio.

"Ahae has been a conservationist all his life and has done everything within his power to ensure that his business activities do not conflict with his endeavors to maintain the purity of the natural world," the biography reads. "His focus on organic products is a natural extension of his concern for the environment, and the individual in particular."

April 25, 2014, 10:19:04 AM
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Offline Peter

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Re: The Sewol's Cult Connection
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2014, 10:19:04 AM »
Time Magazine offers a little more about the pocket change the company spent on crew training last year:
Quote
According to Chonghaejin’s audit report for last year, the company spent just $521 on crew training, including evacuation drills. By comparison, a competitor, Daea Express Shipping, spent 20 times that amount.
Although 20 times $500 doesn't sound like much either^^.



April 25, 2014, 10:34:51 AM
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Offline Peter

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Re: The Sewol's Cult Connection
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2014, 10:34:51 AM »
I think this is worth saving. Something tells me it won't be around much longer.
Update, May 19: I was right, it's gone  ;)
Update June 3: It's surprisingly back online, but the press section doesn't include any of the dozens of recent articles about Yoo/AHAE ;)

Quote
AN INTRODUCTION TO AHAE AND HIS PHOTOGRAPHY

THE PHOTOGRAPHER AHAE
It is the natural world in all its vibrant purity that breathes through the artworks of the Korean photographer Ahae. In his attempt to capture the passing of time and the beauty of his surroundings, Ahae has produced a strong message regarding the responsibility we have towards the world in which we live. His photographs explore the natural environment, which he has worked to protect since the 1970s. He can be described as an inventor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, environmental activist, martial artist, painter, sculptor, poet, and photographer. Ahae’s name is linked with international organic farming and nature conservation projects, and his photographic works became a logical progression from his focus on nature and how we perceive it.

Ahae’s life began in 1941 in Kyoto, Japan, where his family had been relocated during the period of Japanese colonial rule, but he returned to his homeland on the South Korean Peninsula at the end of the Second World War, and it is there that he has spent most of his life.

Ahae’s creative talent manifested itself from an early age. This coupled with his insatiable interest in the world around him—both close at hand and far away—drew him into ever-widening realms of activity and ideas. Beginning with drawing and painting, he soon set his hand to sculpting in general and he even became a master in the art of mask making. His artistic inclinations also took him in the direction of the arts of the martial kind. This led to a life-long affinity with such disciplines. He holds a seventh degree black belt in Taekwondo, is highly trained in Judo, and he has even developed his own style of exercise and self-defense. Ahae worked in the field of broadcasting in his twenties and early thirties. By his mid-thirties, however, he had begun to apply his creative talents to the business world, founding his first enterprise at the age of 35.

With such a broad spectrum of interests, he designed and invented a wide range of unique products, including various household items; numerous health-related products; and various boats and small ocean-going ships that now plough the waters of the Han River in Seoul and further afield. In the course of his career, Ahae has registered and owned over one thousand patents and trademarks and he has received several internationally recognized awards for his inventions. Ahae has been a conservationist all his life and has done everything within his power to ensure that his business activities do not conflict with his endeavors to maintain the purity of the natural world. His focus on organic products is a natural extension of his concern for the environment, and the individual in particular.

In the past two decades, Ahae has sought out suitable land upon which to put into practice his organic lifestyle concept, focusing on the interconnection between nature protection, organic farming, and healthy blood—this being the key to a healthy body. Just as in his photographs, Ahae depicts the natural world as it is, in his farming activities, he does all that is possible to allow nature to live as it was intended to live, without the interference of man and man-made additives of any kind. Two organic tea plantations under Ahae’s supervision in South Korea now have USDA 100% organic certification, as does 123 Farm—the largest organic lavender farm in Southern California—of which Ahae was chairman of the board of directors.

AHAE'S PHOTOGRAPHY

It was during the 1970s that Ahae first became active in the photographic field; he started collecting cameras and taking photographs, and this continued through the 80s. In those years, however, time and other commitments would not allow him to pursue this art form with the intensity that he desired. He was forced to apply his hand elsewhere and had to wait a couple of decades before he was able to take up his camera once more.
Note: I imagine that's a vague reference to his time in the mass suicide/murder cult and his subsequent jail time.

By that time, the field of photography had developed to such a tremendous extent technologically that he was able to grant his artistic qualities their full free range.

Recently, in the course of four years, Ahae took more than 2.6 million photographs—all from just one window of his studio—recording the countless episodes that took place within his view amongst the creatures with whom we share our planet. It was selections from these photographs that were on display at the first Through My Window exhibition at Grand Central Terminal in spring, 2011.

During these four years Ahae was to be found at his window every day, come rain or shine, recording every natural feature and scene that catches his eye. Most of these episodes go unnoticed. Ahae not only sees them, but through his art, he attempts to bring them to the view of the rest of the world. Scenes pastoral and comic, dramatic and tragic, dynamic and serene, enchanting and breathtakingly beautiful are captured through his lens.

With the artist’s eye for light, color and detail, Ahae captures landscapes and wildlife in all four seasons; moments in time that may never occur again. He draws us into the natural scene with all its intimate moments and then allows us to stand back and bathe in the serenity of the whole. Ahae takes us from morning’s first light to the day’s last glimmer, through spring, summer, autumn, winter, through all the mood swings of the seasons as they change, and through the movements of the sun and the moon.

Not wishing to disturb the natural scene on his studio set beyond his window, Ahae does not even permit himself the luxury of air-conditioning in the hot and humid Korean summer. His open window exposes him to the bitter cold and winds of winter and the burning hot sun and mosquitoes of the warmer months. Each shot is taken individually, he seldom uses a tripod, even when handling the largest of cameras with the longest of lenses, and he never uses any artificial lighting.

The result is an “organic” image of the changing scenes of nature outside Ahae’s window in photographs that present very direct and frank views, revealed through natural light.

Since Ahae takes an average of 2,000 to 4,000 photographs every day, it has become necessary to establish a photo-processing station to facilitate the archiving of the constant flood of photographs. This is operated by Ahae Press, Inc. During processing, in keeping with Ahae’s philosophy of maintaining natural integrity, there is absolutely no manipulation of photographs, such as colour alteration, cutting and pasting, combining of photographs, or introduction of foreign elements into the images; only clean-up of photographs (aligning, spot-removing, and minor contrast and light correction) is allowed before the final works are printed.

Ahae’s collection of cameras has increased over time so that he now uses a wide range of equipment, including the highest quality 35mm and medium format cameras and all the different sizes of lenses available on the market, including some very rare collectors’ items. All of the Through My Window collection of photographs were taken using state-of-the-art digital cameras. Top-of-the-line, long-range telephoto lenses were used for most of the animal images in the collection, while a variety of medium format cameras were used for the scenery shots.

The amazing accomplishment of producing one million photographs in two years through just one window has never before been attempted, let alone carried out. The additional fact that Ahae’s photography involves no artificial lighting, no staging, and no manipulation during editing underlines the unique nature of this project, making it all the more vital that these photographic works should be brought to the public eye.

In a recent interview, Professor Milan Knķ˛įk, former General Director of the National Gallery in Prague, said that “all the photographs of today have some social meanings and they are over sophisticated” and that “to meet [Ahae’s photographs] was like a miracle…so simple, so beautiful and so perfect.” As an artist, Ahae puts great emphasis on honesty and simplicity: characteristics that are sadly disappearing from today’s art world. Photographic works such as Ahae constantly produces are oftentimes dismissed as “ordinary”.

It should be understood, however, that it is actually very difficult to capture such natural beauty without the application of artificial or synthetic elements.
This is the case when it comes to all forms of modern art and music. It is becoming more and more difficult to find “true” artists who have both the skills and creative talent needed to produce works that are new, demonstrate technical excellence, and hold deep significance. People no longer understand the importance of fine art; indeed its very definition is becoming more and more vague as the simple natural beauty of the world around us is buried deeper and deeper under the mountain of an ever-growing civilization characterized by many aspects that are artificial and man-made.

Ahae’s aim is not just to produce wonderful photographs; he also wants to open everyone’s eyes to be able to see the wealth of life that is right there beside them if they just look out of the window. Capturing, as he does, the passing of time and the beauty of the nature surrounding him, the message Ahae broadcasts to the world as he exhibits his photographs comes through loud and clear: open your eyes, see the amazing and very precious natural world around you, and do whatever you can to protect it before it is too late. Ahae wishes to make people aware of their immediate surroundings. Today, there are many voices that cry out for awareness in regard to global warming and other environmental issues, but such matters are very difficult for individuals to embrace in their daily lives.

For many years, Ahae has been cultivating and protecting the scene that meets his eye when he looks out from his studio window. As a result of his dedication to the protection of his natural surroundings, he has been able to photograph over twenty percent of all the birds that visit the Korean Peninsula. Deer and other animals also run around freely on this small stretch of land where the changes in season are reflected in a kaleidoscope of colors and even the weeds can radiate their natural beauty against a sky of resplendent light. Ahae has always sought to lead by example, this being another case in point. If we look around at our surroundings, we, too, can discover much of our natural heritage that is worth protecting and nourishing.

Ahae’s photographs that show the changing seasons and dynamic sky are especially meaningful. Nature has a resilience beyond any human comprehension. After a long, cold winter during which everything appears to be dead, nature is able to fill the world with an unimaginable and incomprehensible abundance of life, not just once, but over and over again as year follows year. We, on the other hand, experience our physical condition growing ever weaker as the years pass and we grow older. Nevertheless, the life force in the natural world surrounding us gives us a great sense of hope. In just one patch of sky within Ahae’s view from his window, countless different scenes are played out and captured with the click of a button on the photographer’s camera. Momentary impressions of sunlight, moonlight, and clouds create images the beauty of which cannot be described adequately in words.

2.6 million photographs through one window in four years. Or is it just four years? Ahae’s collection that is now being brought to the public is actually the result of a life time of observation and endeavor. Through these photographic works we see not only the artist, but also the naturalist and conservationist, and above all we see a man who sees life, and a man who wants us to see that life as well.
Ahae Press Editing Department

April 25, 2014, 10:37:47 AM
Reply #13

Offline Peter

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Re: The Sewol's Cult Connection
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2014, 10:37:47 AM »
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Recently, in the course of four years, Ahae took more than 2.6 million photographs...During these four years Ahae was to be found at his window every day, come rain or shine, recording every natural feature and scene that catches his eye...
That's roughly a photo a minute for four years...all taken from his bedroom. :o
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Since Ahae takes an average of 2,000 to 4,000 photographs every day
2,000 photos a day for four years is closer to 3 million photographs. 3,000 a day (the average of the two figures) amounts to 4.4 million.
2,000 a day is 83 per hour. More if we assume this super hero photographer needs to sleep.
3,000 a day is 125 per hour. 4,000 a day is 166 per hour, again that's assuming no naps or toilet breaks.
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The amazing accomplishment of producing one million photographs in two years through just one window has never before been attempted, let alone carried out.
That's because it's a stupid idea.


April 25, 2014, 02:44:05 PM
Reply #14

Offline Peter

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Re: The Sewol's Cult Connection
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2014, 02:44:05 PM »
I think this is the first response from Mr Yoo.  He's not worth W240 billion, he's worth W10 billion, and he's prepared to give that all ... leaving him with "perhaps" W230 billion. No mention of the cult, but the story ends with a photo of his 1987 arrest.

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Ferry Operator's Owner Ready to Give Away Fortune

The de facto owner of Chonghaejin Marine, which operated the ferry Sewol that sank off the southwest coast last week, denies he amassed enormous wealth while scrimping and saving on safety procedures.

A lawyer representing Yoo Byung-eon told the Chosun Ilbo on Thursday that reports that Yoo's assets total W240 billion are not true and he is only worth around W10 billion. ...

Son said Yoo, a former chairman of Chonghaejin, has nonetheless "voiced his willingness to donate his entire W10 billion estate due to his deep sorrow for those who lost their lives aboard the Sewol." ...

Yoo and his two sons are separately under investigation for embezzlement, fraud and four other charges relating to their business.