The largest Pentecostal Christian congregation in South Korea and the world, Yoido Full Gospel church, has repeated come under fire for its founder Cho Yong-gi and his family's involvement in a series of ugly scandals. Last weekend, more revelations were made about Cho's alleged extramarital affairs and church money misappropriations, apart from the existing embezzlement and tax evasion charges that made headlines earlier this year.
A group of church elders who used to side with the founder finally came clean and held a press conference disclosing new details and presenting evidence about Cho's alleged misdeeds. The total amount of money mentioned in this conference alone is astronomical -it easily surpasses 100 million US dollars, and most scandalously, 1.4 million US dollars were allegedly given to a female vocalist in France named Jeong who allegedly had an extramarital affair with Cho.
Sharp criticism of the pastor was easily found on Korea's Twittersphere from Christians and non-Christians alike.
조용기먹사 퇴진촉구 현재 기자회견장 모습입니다. (펌) pic.twitter.com/xfdWRGli2h
— 아리솔#바람소리 (@ksk204913) November 14, 2013
This is a photo of the press conference calling on Pastor Cho Yong-gi to step down. (captured other's tweet) [Unable to locate the original tweet]
조용기 목사가 순복음교회의 돈 수천억원을 빼돌리고, 불륜관계에 있는 성악가 정아무개씨의 입을 틀어막기 위해 15억원을 줬다 합니다. 이게 목사가 할 일입니까? 사이비 교주가 할 일입니까? http://t.co/lQW1R6YIEJ
— 자로 [시국선언] (@zarodream) November 14, 2013
Pastor Cho Yong-gi allegedly had siphoned off several billions of church money and furthermore, in order to silence Ms. Jeong –a vocalist with whom Cho had an extramarital affair with– he gave her 1.5 billion Korean won [1.4 million US dollars]. Does this sound to you like something a pastor would do? Or more like a cult leader?
순복음교회 장로들이 조용기 부자의 수천억대 횡령을 폭로했지만, 문제는 다수의 교인들이 여전히 조목사를 신격화하면서 아무렇지도 않게 생각한다는 것. 한국교회의 부패는 목회자뿐 아니라 신자들에게 책임이 있음.
— 백찬홍 (@mindgood) November 14, 2013
Full Gospel church's elders have disclosed that Cho and his sons have embezzled several billions of the church's money, but still, a majority of regular church-goers continue to treat Pastor Cho as some sort of deity and don't take this case seriously. Church leadership is not the only one who should be blamed for Korean church's corruption, but also those church members, they do bear certain responsibility.
@john6311:천국에서는 한국돈이 쓸모가 없답니다.
@john6311: Korean won is totally useless in heaven.
헌금하고 천국 가려는 호구들 조용기만 천국만들어 줬네요.ㅋㅋ RT @jhem91: 은퇴하면서 퇴직금 2백억, 그 후에도 월급으로 다달이 7500만원씩 수령, 누구냐구요? 조용기목사 랍니다. 큰 은혜 받으셨네^^. 그돈 갖다 바친 모지리들은 뭡니까?
— 정의석 (@samuel6210) November 15, 2013
Those doormats who pay their way to heaven by giving church offerings– they made this place the heaven for Cho Yong-gi. RT @jhem91: Pastor Cho Yong-gi received 20 billion won [18.7 million US dollars] as his ‘retirement money’ and then he received an extra 75 million [71 thousand US dollars] on a monthly basis. He is so blessed. What happens to those idiots who funded those money?
기독교 지도자들이 썩을대로 썩은것 같아 참으로 애석하다 옛날 중동 지역에서 근무당시 존경했던 조용기 목사 였건만 하나님을 믿는 사람 으로써 마음이 무겁다
— 정의.진실.용기상식. (@a83396258) November 15, 2013
I find it so lamentable that church leaders are corrupt beyond belief. As a Christian and a person who used to respect Pastor Cho Yong-gi when I was working in the Arab region, I feel so depressed.
“조용기 목사, 퇴직금 200억 몰래 수령 5년간 특별선교비 총 600억 챙기기도” http://t.co/T2SC6qm5Jv 교회의 대형화는 돈의 축복이지 하나님의 축복은 아닌 듯 하다 돈이 흘러 넘치는 교회엔 타락도 흘러 넘치는 것 같다^^
— 제니스 (@futurism2121) November 15, 2013
Pastor Cho Yong-gi was given 20 billion won [18.7 million US dollars] of retirement money without publicly declaring the amount, and also received 60 billion won [56 million US dollars] of church money which was set aside for ‘special mission work’ (spread out) for five years. 'A Church getting bigger'– it is not a blessing from God, but merely a blessing of money, and in a church where money overflows, corruption also overflows.