Christians on Trial:
Pastor Joshua Jeong Myung Seok

[img: Pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok]

Pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok

1. Imprisoned in China

The founder of Providence church and teacher, Joshua Jeong Myung Seok has been preaching for some time now about the Lord’s Second Coming. He has also organized many world wide event of cultural exchange and preaching from various parts of the world ever since 1999, but in May 2007 he was arrested in China and thrown into prison based on some misunderstandings. He does not often tell of what he endured there and it is rare that many people can understand unless they themselves have been through such torment. But he does occasionally tell stories of how God helped him to get through such difficult experiences.

2. Tried in the Korean court system

After a year of imprisonment and interrogations China found him innocent of all charges and released him. Before his release he was asked if he would like to stay in China or face charges in Korea. He chose to go to trial in Korea. [1] There was concern that he would not receive a fair trial in Korea because even though South Korea is a democratic nation their court system is very different than the western court system. They don’t have trial by jury. In American courts you can only be deemed guilty by a group of common citizens chosen by the lawyers. A jury of your peers listens to both sides, discuss with one another, and you can only be considered guilty if the entire jury votes unanimously against you. Those in the jury aren’t allowed to hear anything they say about you in the news or be influenced in any way outside the court. In Korea, there is no trial by jury but instead everything is decided by the judge and open to public. For this reason public perception has a large influence on trial decisions. In the case of Joshua Jeong Myung Seok, a combination of irresponsible journalism and biased court decision resulted in an unfair trial.

Some of the accusations were too ridiculous to believe. But no matter how outlandish they were, the news would print and broadcast the rumors causing many problems for the church. In Korea as well as Taiwan the church even sued the news media for libel and unfair abuse of reputation. As a result the Taiwanese newspaper released an official apology. In Korea, a court also ruled in favor of the church ordering the following: 1) the media must not use one-sided material provided by the informer and others; 2) the media must inform the organization 48 hours before broadcasting; 3) the media must guarantee 5% of the broadcasting time to [the Church] so that their rebuttal will also be aired; 4) if these orders are violated, the media must pay damages in the amount of 30 million won (about the equivalent of $30,000)  for each violation. The court decision acknowledging the media’s errors and biased reporting was not made widely known to viewers.

But the damage to the public’s perception of the Pastor Joshua Jeong Myung Seok’s reputation was already done. His case was a far more difficult case to try than that of his church’s case against the media, because many of those who made the accusations against him refused to show in court. Those who did testify in court didn’t have a consistent story. One person who witnessed the trial described how the stories had such obvious contradictions that at one point the judge even stopped the witness and addressed her with this comment, “Please understand, that if you change your story again like this it is very possible that this bad man could go free. So do you want to continue with the story as you just told it?”

[image: Joshua Jeong Myung Seok in the News]

Apology letter from Jeong's accuser

At one point a plaintiff completely reversed the statements that she had given to the police and the prosecutor’s office, completely denying the allegations she had previously made. Even though the court warned her saying, “If your testimony differs from the contents of the complaint, you could be penalized,” and the plaintiff replied, “I’m fine even if I will be penalized.” She admitted to having filed a false suit and confessed to having given false testimonies until now. [2]

The judges concluded that they couldn’t trust the words of anyone who belonged to the church due to the fact that it was a religious organization and Joshua Jeong was the founder. They claimed that since it was a religious case, all the rules that would apply to another case didn’t apply to this one. The judge even stated publicly that if the case were not religous it would have been dismissed from the beginning and no such case would have been tried. No matter who or what was testified on behalf of Jeong’s case the court wouldn’t consider it valid.

Five people filed legal action against him. He was deemed innocent of one charge, one charge was rejected (Ultimately deemed innocent), and the judges decided that he was partially guilty of the remaining three charges.

The court relied only on the testimony of the plaintiffs and not on any evidence presented. It was revealed that the plaintiffs made up evidence to exaggerate and falsify. Even though it was exposed that the witnesses were unsavory enough to concoct evidence in an attempt to strengthen their argument, the judges accepted the charges brought by the plaintiffs.

Jeong held that he was innocent no matter how much the plaintiffs claimed they were victims or how credible their testimonies might have seemed. He did not ask for a lighter sentence by asking for mercy. In fact, that attitude seemed contemptible to the judge who was already suspicious of Jeong’s innocence. The judge held Jeong in contempt of the law for not admitting guilt or attempting to comfort the female plaintiffs.

So in April 2009 the court sentenced him to 10 years in prison, an extremely harsh sentence. Usually in Korean courts the judge may give a harsh sentence but then afterwards the lawyers negotiate to get a lesser sentence. Joshua Jeong declined any such negotiations because he held that he was absolutely not guilty even 1%. He did not risk negotiation for proof of full innoncence and took the full 10 year sentence. He said that he would carry the cross just as Jesus did not decline to walk the path of Calvary.

3. Joshua Jeong’s current situation.

Today Joshua Jung Myung Seok prays 3 hours before going to sleep, he sleeps 3 hours each night and wakes up at 1am to pray at least 3 hours or more each morning. On days when he writes the Sunday or Wednesday message he prays as much as 5 to 8 hours. He exercises, sings, and writes proverbs, poems, songs, and letters everyday. He lives in a very small cell by himself and spends most of his time alone. He is only allowed out on the exercise field for one hour each day so he also exercises in his room. He told one visitor that he’s doing 700 squats a day, overhead arm raises, and he runs in place on top of that. He is currently in his mid 60′s but those who have seen him say he looks far younger than when they saw him before. They also try to describe his intense gaze. They say that his eyes are so focused and he looks so young that it is shocking and indescribeable. Those who worked with him in the past say that his schedule may sound impossible but they confirm that he has always worked intensely like this even in the past.

Just as Paul managed the early church through a ministry of writing letters, Pastor Joshua too is writing letters to the Providence churches in 50 nations and writing the Sunday and Wednesday messages. With fewer distractions than those of us in the outside world he is able to spend most of his time spiritually focusing on and connecting with Jesus. For this reason Jesus is able to speak very powerfully through the messages we receive. Jesus urges us to prepare for the Second Coming by making ourselves pure through repentance.

With the last days at hand and Jesus’ second coming so close he says that we must live with a sense of urgency and immediately repent, pray, and prepare for the Lord in our daily lives.

About the Author of this Article

[photo: Shaun McMillan]Shaun McMillan is a church minister, as well as a professional animator, web designer, and illustrator. He is the author of two books and the designer/author of several websites including www.ProvidenceTrial.com, www.GospelofProvidence.com, and www.Drawalot.com. He was formerly an animation and media arts instructor at Westwood College and is currently a full time designer for the www.CrystalCathedral.org and www.GospelofProvidence.com.

Related Pages

About Joshua Jeong Myung Seok

This is a brief biography of Joshua Jeong Myung Seok’s life leading up to the events described above. It gives a brief description of his background, his army service in the Vietnam war, and lists a few of his achievements including the founding and establishing of Providence Church around the world.

Footnotes

[1] In the Sunday message for February 27, 2010 Jeong explained that originally he did not want to return to Korea  upon release in China. But when the Justice Department of China sent an official to find out his final decision, Jeong ultimately decided to face trial in Korea once released from China.

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[image: Joshua Jeong Myung Seok in the News]

[2] JMS in the News: Full Report Reveals All