Doomsday cult leader held 400 followers prisoner in Fiji

cult

Reverend Esther, the leader of a South Korean doomsday cult, has been arrested for allegedly holding some 400 followers captive in Fiji.

Esther, whose legal name is Shin Ok-ju’, is the founder of the Grace Road Church.

The church has a corporate branch called the GR Group.

Esther was arrested with three other cult leaders when they arrived at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport last week.

Cult members began travelling to Fiji in 2014 after Esther predicted there would be a famine across the Korean peninsula.

Once they arrived, their passports were confiscated and many were allegedly subjected to beatings and brutal rituals ostensibly aimed at driving out evil spirits.

GR Group has opened businesses in Fiji in industries ranging from construction to agriculture.

The Grace Road Church and the GR Group have maintained connections at the highest levels of the Fiji government.

Pictures in local media and on the GR website show Fiji Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama personally appearing beside GR Group’s president to give the company an award for its business successes in 2017.

When questioned by Fijivillage, Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho confirmed that they have been contacted by South Korean authorities.

The Fijian Police have started preliminary investigations while they await official notification.

Some followers who escaped the farm told journalists that those who attempted to leave the church were subjected to severe public beatings known as “ground thrashings.”

This is not the first time Esther has been in trouble with the law. She was sued for $6m in 2014 in Brooklyn by a 27-year-old mentally ill man after she tried to cure his schizophrenia with prayer.

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News category: Asia Pacific.

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