Netflix documentary 'In the Name of God' exposes dark side of cult leaders
By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, March 10 (Yonhap) -- The director of Netflix documentary series "In the Name of God: A Holy Betrayal" said Friday he tried to focus on realistically exposing what happened in pseudo religions to encourage followers to leave.
The crime documentary series has sparked debates over some religious groups by shedding light on the rise and fall of four Korean cult leaders accused of manipulating and exploiting their followers in grueling ways.
The first three episodes recount how Jeong Myeong-seok, founder of the Christian Gospel Mission, widely known as JMS, has sexually exploited young female followers by claiming to be the Messiah.
JMS sought to block the documentary from airing, but its injunction request was denied and the series was released on March 3.
Cho Sung-hyun, a producer of local broadcaster MBC, said he worked on the project for two years to extensively interview over 200 victims and pore over documents to tell the truth about the cult leaders despite threats from their followers.
"I wanted to raise social awareness about the incidents and religions to bring changes to our society. I think such changes are already happening and am personally pleased," Cho said in a press conference.
In response to criticism over some inflammatory remarks and graphic depiction of sexual assault incidents related to Jeong, Cho said he insisted the disturbing scenes should be included to transparently deliver facts to viewers.
In 2009, Jeong was sentenced to 10 years in jail for rape and was released in 2018. The 77-year-old is now awaiting trials for sexually assaulting several female followers.
"We showed just one-tenth of his ugliness," he said. "I thought it is important to clearly show what really happened so as to encourage more victims to leave."
Cho said he is currently meeting other victims of pseudo religions to follow up on the sensitive subject, but hasn't decided on the platform for the next project.
"There are victims of pseudo religions in my family and my circle of friends. So this is not somebody else's story, but my story," he said.
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