Relatives of refugees from The Church of Almighty God (CAG) were coerced or manipulated to go to Seoul and stage anti-CAG demonstrations with the notorious Ms. O. These sideshows regularly end in disgrace. Why does the CCP keep organizing them?
by Massimo Introvigne
Some went out for worn and came home shorn. Bitter Winter has reported about the false demonstrations in Seoul against the refugees of The Church of Almighty God (CAG) organized for three days this week by Korean anti-cult and pro-CCP activist Ms. O Myung-ok. Ms. O has now organized ten of these demonstrations, all repeating the same pattern. Chinese State Security agents coerce or manipulate relatives of CAG members living in Korea to go there and stage false demonstrations. Ostensibly, the relatives ask the refugees to “come home” to China—where of course they would not “go home” but would be immediately arrested.
These false demonstrations always fail. None of the CAG refugees accept to “go home,” but they meet their relatives and calmly explain that, as much as they love them, living free in Korea is preferable to going to jail in China.
While some journalists expressed a mild interest in Ms. O’s positions initially, now most of the quality media in Korea have realized that the demonstrations are false. It doesn’t seem that the Korean government is paying any special attention to these demonstrations either. Why is the CCP spending money to organize them? Bitter Winter decided to investigate, by interviewing the CAG refugees who met with their relatives.
The “Family Search Party” Hoax
It is crystal clear that the whole idea of a “family search party” is a scam. Ms. O claims that the relatives come to Korea to “search” for their “missing” family members, but the whole story is a hoax. Nobody is missing. Prior to the arrival of the relatives, their family members who live in Korea as refugees told the police that they are not in any way refusing to meet their relatives living in China. On the contrary, they are very pleased to meet them and would gladly invite them to visit the CAG church in Onsu, Seoul—without Ms. O, of course, and why the presence of Ms. O would be needed is unclear. These statements were reiterated by the CAG refugees and their lawyers during the false demonstrations.
There is no “search” and nobody is “lost.” In some cases, CAG refugees even went to the airport to greet their relatives upon arrival, only to be prevented from picking up their family members by Ms. O and her minions. Ms. O insisted that, rather than spending time with their family members, the relatives should join her in demonstrating at the Blue House (the residency of the Korean President), the Korean Immigration Office, and the Gunja premises of CAG. The relatives were not allowed to see their beloved ones until the afternoon of July 23. They were told the meeting should last less than one hour and can take place at the local police office only. It was clear to all observers that the answer to the question “Who prevents the relatives from meeting the refugees?” was “Ms. O and the CCP.”
A Look Behind the Scenes
According to the CAG refugees interviewed by Bitter Winter, their relatives seemed quite normal while they were talking about family issues. However, when asked how they came to Korea or why they became part of the demonstrations, the relatives reacted as if they had all received the same training. They refused to answer or just changed the topic, and did not dare to talk much longer. One of the relatives said helplessly that he had to return to China and could not tell much, or the CCP would not fail to retaliate.
According to another CAG member, during the meeting, his relative received several calls from the CCP officials, demanding that he took photos of the family meeting to be used for a feedback report to be sent back to China. The relative was annoyed for being constantly kept under surveillance.
Our interviewee also reported that his relative wanted to stay with him for some more days but was warned by the CCP that, if he would not behave, he would be charged the expenses for the trip to Seoul. Similarly, another relative of the “family search party” reported that the CCP paid his tickets, food and hotel expenses during his trip to South Korea, but on the condition that he should strictly follow the CCP’s and Ms. O’s instructions.
When asked why he joined the CCP’s “family search party” instead of coming on his own, the relative of another CAG refugee said, “I didn’t want to join them. But I had to, because it was the only way to come to South Korea and see you.” Another relative, who refused to join the false demonstrations, told Bitter Winter’s Chinese reporters that his applications for a visa to South Korea have been constantly denied by the Chinese authorities during the past years.
“I Could Do Nothing About This”
A CAG member reported that, when she met with her father, he looked very nervous, and decided to leave after less than 20 minutes.
The CAG member began to worry about her father, and wondered if he was being coerced. She returned to the Korean police for help, and told them that she wanted to see her father again. When they met again, she gave her father a written note asking if an eavesdropping device was installed on him. And her father replied by typing text : “Sorry, I could do nothing about this.”
A CAG devotee reported to Bitter Winter that, when asked why they staged false demonstrations at the entrance to CAG premises and kept discrediting the Church, his relatives explained that they had been told that the CAG would not allow them to see the refugees, so they followed Ms. O’s instructions, shouted through loud-speakers, and demonstrated outside the Church premises. A relative of another CAG member also told her [the member], “They said I could see you only if I raised a signboard.”
Obviously, these were all lies. Refugees kept explaining they were ready and even eager to meet their relatives, sans Ms. O, without the need of any demonstration.
CAG members have expressed their protest by accusing the CCP of coercing their relatives into travelling to South Korea for false demonstrations, trying to deceive the Korean government, media, and people. Fifteen members whose relatives were recruited in the “family search party” asked their attorney to publish a statement on their behalf, stating that, “If our relatives would visit our Church by themselves in good faith, we would be ready to meet them at any time under the normal prerequisites for security. Nevertheless, we are not organizing meetings with our relatives if anyone demands the meetings by staging demonstrations, making trouble, fabricating and spreading fake news to defame our reputation, discredit our Church, or slander our faith.”
The question returns, why the CCP is organizing all this. It has no effect on refugees, except that it inflicts additional unnecessary pain and suffering. It has no longer any effect on Korean media. It has no effect (that we know of) on Korean institutions. The only explanation is that demonstrations are staged for internal Chinese consumption. Somebody should prove that they are “doing something” to harass religion-based refugees abroad, just as CCP internal documents mandate. And there is of course a message to other Chinese relatives of CAG members who have escaped abroad: they are kept under a 24/7 surveillance and would never be left alone.