Anniversary Commemoration opens for the deceased Gu Ji-In
Associations for Victims of Coercive Conversion Programs (AVCCP) Distribution Date: Sunday 6 January, 2019
The one year anniversary commemoration for Gu Ji-In, who passed away during the process of coercive conversion last year, was held at Gwangju, Gwang-Yeok Si, 2~3 Ga-il-won, South Korea on 6 January by the members of the Association for Victims of Coercive Conversion Programs (AVCCP) who are co-represented by Park Sang-Ik and Choi Ji-Hye, along with approximately 20,000 civilians.
Not only in Gwangju but also 8,000 more participated in the commemoration in Jeonnam, Mokpo, Suncheon, and Yeoso. To commemorate Gu Ji-In, AVCCP held the commemoration event not only in Korea but around the world including in New Zealand, where over 100 civilians gathered.
This commemoration was held for Gu Ji-In to commend her spirit as someone who lost her life due to being forced to convert to another denomination within Christianity, despite the Constitution of Republic of Korea stating the right to the freedom of religion. The people gathered at the commemoration with the heart of never wishing the coercive conversion process on others, which consists of violence, confinement, violating human rights, and even cases of death.
Before the commemoration, the rally for advocacy for the enactment of a law against coercive conversion programs was held which expressed the serious harm of coercive conversion. The commemoration began with words of greeting from the Director of AVCCP of Gwanju, Jeonnam region, Ji Jae-Seop, then went ahead with the proceeding report, commemorating speech, delegate representatives offering flowers, a dirge, reading of a resolution from the AVCCP representative and a tribute song.
Through the commemoration, Lee Jeong-Woo, the AVCCP regional director of Gwangju, Jeonnam said, “Gu Ji-In, who was 27 years old was killed by her family who were instigated by the coercive conversion pastors. In order to prevent such tragedies from ever happening again in Korea, we, AVCCP, have spread the news about this terrible truth and the illegal acts of coercive conversion for the past year. Through this, many people have found out about the grave reality of coercive conversion which is run by the Christian Council of Korea (CCK), and over 1,000,000 signatures nation-wide were signed to enact a law against coercive conversion programs.”
Furthermore, he expressed the serious issue coercive conversion instigates by saying that “the whole world cannot cease being appalled at the human rights issues occurring in the Republic of Korea, thus the resolution conference and the campaign for the eradication of coercive conversion was held in 23 cities of 15 countries and press from 33 different countries reported the brutality of coercive conversion. Regrettably, the murder case which occurred in the Hwasoon Pension, due to the instigation of coercive conversion, has yet to be concluded. Even after the death of Gu Ji-In, the illegal act of coercive conversion by the money hungry coercive conversion pastors did not stop. There were 147 victims last year alone.”
The deceased Ms. Gu was confined and forcefully persuaded to convert at an undisclosed Catholic monastery in Cheonnam for 44 days in July 2016. The following year in June 2017, she reported the abusive case of coercive conversion programs to the Blue House Website and worked to voice for the punishment of the coercive conversion pastors and to enact a law against this discrimination of religion.
In her final days, Ms. Gu was again confined, this time in an undisclosed pension located in Hwasu-gun in Jeonnam on 29 December, 2017 and was being forced to convert her religion. On the 30th of December, she was rushed to a university hospital while having difficulty in breathing due to her family’s violence. She was later pronounced dead, with the cause of brain damage, on 9 January, 2018.
AVCCP emphasized that coercively converting others’ religions in the Republic of Korea, a place of religious freedom, violates the first clause of the 20th article of the Constitution. Because the government regarded the cries of Ms. Gu, who was confined and had conversion forced on her as merely a religious issue, this case has resulted in a death. Even though Ms. Gu’s death was revealed to have taken place during the process of coercive conversion, the conversion pastors were not charged with any crimes. These conversion pastors avoid being charged by finding a loophole in the law and instigating the family. Therefore, a law against coercive conversion must be enacted so that there will not be any more victims.