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Young woman dies at the hands of Christian pastors in Korea

On Saturday 10th March, 2018, a unique stall was erected at the Mangere Market, in Mangere Town Centre. The International Women's Peace and Human Rights Committee (under the International Women's Peace Group) hosted a Memorial Ceremony to pay homage to the death of one of their fellow international members, Ji-In Gu, a young South Korean woman who was found dead after her parents allegedly suffocated her while she was being forcedly made to participate in a religious conversion programme.

A group of IWPG members, as well as a multitude of local market attendees gathered for the memorial services, held at 8:00am and 11:00am, to remember the life of this young woman. The service proceedings included a commemorative speech and a reading of Ji-In Gu's letter to the President of the Republic of Korea. A moment of silence was observed, followed by the placing of flowers on the altar; a hauntingly beautiful waiata (song) sung by IWPG members filled the silence, as her precious life, taken so soon, was remembered. Many others payed their respects throughout the day.

The members of IWPG also continued to campaign for signatures, for a petition to urge the Korean Government to enact a law against coercive conversion programmes in the Republic of Korea. This campaign has been active worldwide since her death on the 9th of January, 2018. The death of Ji-In Gu has not gone unnoticed; memorial services for her have been held globally, in nations such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Prague, and the United Kingdom. On the 28th of January, 120,000 South Korean citizens also protested against this horrific violation of human rights, that is, coercive conversion education, implemented by so called 'Christian pastors'.

Locals at the market were shocked upon hearing the news of the late Ji-In Gu, whose life was taken so unjustly. When told about the horrendous acts by the coercive conversion pastors, one woman exclaimed, "This is so atrocious, is this really happening in Korea? Now it is time for the government to know!"

It is reported that Gu was kidnapped and confined in a room for 44 days, where she was later found dead, after allegedly being suffocated by her own parents. Prior to this heinous event, she had written a letter of petition to the Korean president, urging for the punishment of the coercive conversion pastors. Gu said "When I was captured and forced to undergo conversion education for 44 days, I was so scared that I would be captured again, that I pleaded with the president that I too wanted to enjoy the freedom of religion written about in the constitution of the Republic of Korea".

AVCCP has uncovered the stance of the South Korean Protestant Church with regards to conversion education. They state that such claims are unfounded and that consultations surrounding 'cult' issues are implemented voluntarily at the request of the family of the victim, with the consent of the victim. Conversely, victims report that consent to participate is gained by sheer force, whilst being under lockdown and confinement. It is unthinkable that it has taken the death of a young woman for this abominable practice to finally be brought into the light. It is time for the Korean Government to listen to the voices worldwide who are standing up for Ji-In Gu, and to take the necessary action to bring coercive conversion to an end. Needless to say, IWPG will continue to be the voice of Ji-In Gu and other victims of coercive conversion, with the ultimate goal of upholding justice and bringing this harmful practice to an end.

© Scoop Media

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