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[The Monthly Politic&Economic News] The court rules President Jung Myung Seok of JMS ‘Not Guilty’

 

The court rules President Jung Myung Seok of JMS ‘Not Guilty’

Sincerity moves heaven; Truth will out.


The much-publicized sex scandal case of President Jung Myung Seok of JMS (officially known as Christian Gospel Mission, hereafter the Mission), promoted by the media and the press since last January, was concluded in the end of October for the time being; all accusations filed by the former members of JMS against President Jung were dropped after a thorough police investigation. With his complete acquittal of all charges, the press that had been giving false reports are left to drink their own cup, after spreading baseless criticism for the sake of criticism itself. The correctness of the court’s previous rulings has also become doubtful. In 2009, President Jung was accused of similar offenses and is currently serving a 10-year sentence. In the June edition, the Monthly Politic & Economic News reported about this case, and quoted Jung’s remark “I will only walk on the path of the cross leaving all judgments on truth to God.” We now re-examine the full account of this recently cleared case.  

  Article by Reporter Kim A-young



Who is the victim?


There are three similarities in all the cases involving President, both in the past and present; first, public opinion is formed on the basis of unconfirmed stories publicized online or in print; second, continual accusations without reasonable and sufficient evidence; third, the presence of anti-JMS organizations inciting former JMS members and demanding money from JMS.  


From November last year, the anti-JMS organizations, including one known as ‘JMS Damage Control Group’, collectively appealed for compensation or damages, and sued President Jung for sexual assault, aiding and abetting terrorism and many other crimes. A large group of people appeared in the print media and on the Internet and continued to expose Jung’s additional crimes. Accusations and petitions continued one after another. Actual evidence was nowhere to be found. However, these incendiary and provocative reports stimulated interests on the internet and were poised to spread unchecked, with no respect for the truth of the story. 

 

To President Jung, who was serving the jail time with the questionable tag of ‘sex offender’ pinned on him, no fight could be more disadvantageous than this one. Fortunately, however, the Mission promptly took appropriate measures and the media produced timely corrections and objection reports. The fire was put out before it spread. 10 or so investigations started since last June were all cleared by October. Not having achieved much, the anti-JMS groups’ claims that they were harmed by President Jung lost their validity, and the members were divided by in-fighting. 



▲ CGM service held at the Natural Temple in the valley of Wolmyeongdong, broadcasted live to 50 different countries. 


In the past, there had been similar cases filed with similar developments, however, in court, the opposite outcomes came about. The manipulation of general public opinion for the last 10 years through online and print media had already branded Jung as a criminal. Against this unfavorable background, a court dispute began with the accusations of 5 women in February, 2008. Unlike the case this year, the Mission did not make an effective defense against the charges when the case erupted. Again, the accusations lacked supporting evidence. Among the accusers, one woman dropped the charge after confessing that the accusation was false. President Jung is currently serving 10 years in jail on a conviction of sexual assault and molestation in regard to the remaining four accusers.


Meanwhile, the press responsible for aggravating the JMS case and making it a social issue through many reports between 1999 and 2004 and this became the subject of court’s decision to recommend reconciliation (2005)[1] and the court awarded monetary compensation for damages (2010)[2]. The Mission was compensated $82,000 USD. The mediation referred to the following distortions to the reports:


First, the responsible media aired a voice-modulated sound track of a Sunday sermon from 1995. The media altered the audio to make it inaudible at the part where Jung says, “Evangelize one out of ten,” in the context of the offering a tithe of lives to God (rather than a tithe of finance), and inserted false subtitles: ‘Evangelize one woman,’ to create a negative image of the president as ‘the leader with sexual problems.’


Second, the media organization edited the video of an assembly where men and women were doing separate activities, and showed only the women followers and President Jung, in order to convey the false image of the president meeting only women.


Third, the media organization falsely used the initials JMS. JMS is an acronym used informally between some congregation members to mean Jesus Morning Star. However, the media implied that JMS is the initials of President Jung Myung Seok and the official name used for the Mission, to convey the impression that members have absolute belief in this religious leader as God. In contrast to allegations aired, the Mission never officially used the acronym ‘JMS’ for any purposes.


Fourth, the media organization falsely described the Mission’s Wolmyeongdong natural temple as a secret place, cut off from the outside world, used for sexual purposes and closed-door religious ceremonies. In reality, it is a scenic locale, open to the public and often visited by local residents, hikers to nearby Mt. Daedun and many international tourists. 


After ruling on the falsified and biased coverage, which was based on information from the leaders of anti-JMS groups including Kim Dohoon (pseudonym) and Kim Hyungsu (pseudonym), the court declared that, “the media shall not create reports based on information from Kim Dohoon and Kim Hyungsu. When airing coverage on the Mission, the media organization must inform the concerned parties 48 hours prior to the broadcast. Five percent of total air time shall be reserved for objection reports. If any of the above rulings are violated, the violating party shall pay 30 million Korean Won in compensation for every violation.” 


The court’s decision was barely covered in the media. Later on, a few press outlets criticized the falsified media reports and the court’s sentence to jail time against Jung given the lack of evidence to prove that he had committed any offence. Nevertheless, this did not change general public opinion. The media exposed the presence of the anti-JMS group behind the women who filed the lawsuits, and also the letters from the anti-JMS group to Jung demanding money.


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[1] The court recommended mediation between SBS and the Mission to settle the dispute, followed by issuing of consent orders.

[2] The court ordered SBS to pay compensation to the Mission for violation of one of the consent orders of 2005. 



▲ Legal documents of at least ten investigated allegations from June 2011 to October 2012 that clear President Jeong of all suspicion.

 

▲ For ten years, since 1999, rumors oPresident  Jeong’s sex scandals spread to other nations only to dissipate into nothing. In Taiwan, a false informant was fined and had to write a formal apology explaining his misconduct in the newspaper.

 

▲  Several broadcast programs that framed the JMS case as a social problem were the subject of a Reconciliation Advisory (Aug. 2, 2005) and counterindemnity verdict (May 26, 2010) from the court.



Guilty of Sex Crime if the Accuser Claims to Have Felt Ashamed?

Innocent Prisoners Behind Bars.


In a sex crime case, it is not infrequent for court rulings to contravene the principle of trial by evidence. Sex crimes, by their nature, often leave no evidence to substantiate an allegation. As a result, the court has no choice but to make a judgment based on circumstantial evidence that is the testimony of female accusers.

This, in other words, leaves a suspect without solid evidence to prove his innocence, and an unfavorable trial system.

In 2008, Kim Gwangbok (pseudonym), the president of a celebrity agency, was brought to trial after a lawsuit was filed by 5 female celebrities in the agency. The trial lasted a year. Kim was cleared of the indictment filed by four of the women when his alibi was proven to be true. However he was found guilty of molesting the remaining one young girl and received a sentence of one year. There existed no evidence of any kind to prove his guilt or innocence. Kim pleaded not guilty, confessing only to touching her upper chest to see if any plastic surgery was needed.
He felt wronged by the court decision. He protested that if he were judged to be a sex offender for what he had done, there would be no celebrity managers who would be exempt from being called sex offender. 

The law finds a defendant guilty of a sex crime even a case where a female accuser claims mere feelings of humiliation. With no evidence to prove his innocence, Kim apologized, “I am sorry if I made you feel ashamed,” and received a one-year sentence. Any further pleas of innocence could have resulted in additional punishment for not admitting his misconduct. In prison, there are more than a few inmates on false charges of sex crimes.

When Kim finished his time in detention, the former vice president of the company had replaced him in the company. It turned out that the vice president had plotted with the five female accusers in order to takeover Kim’s position. They were after the money after all.

The sex crime case of Jung Wonsup, who was proven innocent after serving 15 years behind bars for a rape and murder he did not commit, is a well known story. Jung was convicted of raping and strangling the daughter of the Yeokjeon District Chief of Police in Chuncheon city on September 27th, 1972. This was an unprecedented crime that made national headlines. Coded ‘the 4th most serious crime in the nation,’ a time-limited arrest warrant was issued, creating a big stir in the community. 

The police announced that Jung was identified as the culprit on October 10th, 1972, the last day they had for turning in the criminal. Jung was a last-minute ‘made-up’ suspect, falsely indicted. After Jung was selected as a model prisoner and released on parole on December 24th, 1987, he requested a retrial. After 39 years of living with a tag ‘murderer,’ he cleared himself of the false title on December 27th, 2011. However, his lost years remain uncompensated.
Now 80 years old, Jung is preparing to file for damages against the government.

Pursuant to the principle of double jeopardy[3], except in a political case, it is impossible to retry a case that has already been decided. However, more recently, there have been shifts in the attitudes of judges. Judges are now warier of the general public opinion. Putting aside concerns about the possible collapse of the sacred and trusted judicial authority, this shift towards being conscious of public opinion lends further weight to the argument that there have been possible misjudgments.  

The principle of trial by evidence requires evidence of criminal conduct ‘beyond reasonable doubt.’However, the probative weight of each piece of evidence is heavily dependent on judicial discretion under the rule of free evaluation of evidence.

The disadvantage from that is that judges could be vulnerable to the influences of public opinion and the media when deciding the cases before them. In support of this, a former judge, who is now a lawyer, confessed in an interview that quite frankly, he could not fail to be conscious of the media during his term in the judiciary.


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[3] A court rule which prevents a person from being tried twice or the same offence.


A 10-year sentence. “It’s unreasonable and abnormal.”


If President Jung’s case was determined amid the popular perception -- heavily influenced by false media reports -- that he was a criminal, it is only right to reinvestigate to see if the court rulings were absolutely free from media influence. The presumption of innocence tells us that ‘it is better set free to 100 criminals than to wrongly imprison one person.’ Considering these points and with a little common sense, the decision in President Jung’s case is hard to comprehend. 


In particular, following the rape allegation filed by two women on April 3rd, 2006 in Anshan, China, the Anshan Central Hospital conducted a medical examination. The hospital concluded that, “the testing found no semen. The women are normal.


There are no indications of rape.” An interpreter from the Chinese Public Safety office testified in court, saying, “I was informed by the doctor in charge of the medical examination that Miss Kim does not have any breakage to her hymen.”


On April 8th, the National Police Hospital of Korea produced its own medical examination result in which it reported, “No damage was found to the hymen. Cannot identify any kind of trace of rape.” The semen test conducted by the National Scientific, Criminal and Investigation Laboratory was also negative.


However, on April 10th,Kim who was suing President Jung applied for a re-examination at the police hospital.

In the second test, minor lacerations that were not found in the first test were diagnosed. However, contrary to what Kim had initially asserted -- that there was severe breakage to her hymen -- the doctor commented that the degree of laceration was, “so superficial that even activities such as riding a bicycle could have caused it.” The hospital kept no photographic record of the examination of the affected area, contrary to standard medical diagnostic procedures that apply when an examination is made for criminal investigation purposes at the police hospital.


On April 18th, each accuser stated, again, in a press interview, “I had a bloody vaginal discharge due to severe breakage of the hymen, such that I could not even walk properly after the violent rape.” However, CCTV footage recorded following the incident says differently: it shows the accusers smiling and walking with no difficulty. The defendant attorney protested that the circumstances raised suspicion of self-inflicted injuries. The court did not accept the protest.


The last point that raises questions about the case is that after Jung was arrested by the Chinese police for rape in China in May 2007, he was sent to Korea without much difficulty in February 2008. In China, rapists and drug criminals are dealt with severely regardless of their nationality. If Jung had been really suspected of rape in China, the Chinese police would not have sent him to Korea so easily. Unfortunately, the Chinese investigation records, touching on important issues that affect the final judgment, were never delivered to the Korean court before the conclusion of the trial. ◎



▲ President Jeong Myeong-Seok preached sermons to large crowds at any kind of occasion or location.



With the Lord 

 

Jung Myung-Seok

 

 

Even though I was hit 


by a bolt out of the blue


there is a path for me


winding thin as a thread.


The Lord who has saved me


walks that path, and he says


this path is good enough


to walk.


Do you need a wide path


when you are neither going


by car nor riding a bicycle?


Isn’t it enough for


you and me together


to walk?


Not just any person


can walk such a path


or even think to walk it


in his heart.


Yes, the trail is narrow


as we travel down it.


Yet, as we walk


on that trail together


a wide path suddenly


will emerge.


At that time we will meet


those who waited for us


asking how we got there.


They’ll say our arrival


is a sign.



 

 

The mind of the artist is found in the artwork. The poems President Jung wrote in prison reveal the deep truth of life that can be gained through training, patience and suffering, and leave the reader deep in thought.


<Inspired poems,> written by President Jung Myung Seok, made a new record as a best-seller in Korea in 1989. He was acknowledged as a poet through The Trend of Literary Thoughts[4] in 1995 after catching the attention of the Korean literary world. President Jung was chosen as a representative poet for a hundred years of Korean poetry history (1908-2010) in the <Unabridged Dictionary of Korean Poetry> published last March.


Jung has not ceased writing in prison: he is determined that if he cannot use his lips to preach the gospel, he will do it with his hands to the point they wear out. He is known to have written thousands of sermons, meditative proverbs and poems in prison in the last four years and nine months.



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[4] The Trend of Literary Thoughts:Korean Monthly Literary Magazine






 

 



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