31 Visitor Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this in-depth article about Camp English. I hadn’t been strong enough to finish contacting the DA of New York about my experiences in Texas. I was on the same trip but have been a pescatarian for the last four years. Simply put, I only eat fish and vegetables. There was very little that I could eat out of the small portions aside fom kim-chee and rice. My father is Jewish, my mother Catholic and my boyfriend Islamic. My feelings about religion are very open but I was raised Christian and identify with God. I have always had reservations about anyone really loving another person and holding in their consciousness the idea that that person will suffer in hell in their next life based on the title they give to God. After three days of “Mind Lectures” I was severely disturbed. When I had told the group that I wanted to go home, they were arguing with two other people outside of the meeting. One was a man of another faith (also a student) who had been caught drinking at the bar and told he could no longer stay with the church even though he had paid to be there and did not have the funds to go home from Dallas. Another was a young woman with a similar diet to mine who had been crying for days and could not sit in the lectures anymore. I refused to submit to follow the schedule but the bus leaving for New York was not soon enough considering i had fifty dollars and hadn’t eaten in days. They sat me with a pastor who told me in college he had been selfish and had partied but had found God through this church and I should “open my heart.” Why I asked should open your heart mean to throw out all my religious and beautiful experiences for a mass group of strangers who do not respect my diet or values? Why throw out the love for people in my life who do not believe their teachings? My father paid for a ticket home and I was unable to sleep for a week. At one point during that conversation, I had asked myself if I even believed in God. In my entire life, I have never had the audacity to question if this intricately complicated world could exist without a Creator, but my fear my anger, my exhaustion and my rebellion of this group had done something scary to me. I was shaken for days until I spoke to the Dean of my college and she had told me that one moment doesn’t mean anything as long as I realize that it was fear. Thank you once again for this piece.

  2. Sometimes I think people over examine things. A good experience is a good experience. Are you going to trade that all up for what people say on the internet? If you wear green glasses the whole world looks green, if you wear red glasses, you will see red. You talk about 2 hour long lectures exaggerating the fact. The first hour contains dances, plays and performances, the sermon itself is only an hour long. And yes, the pastor may have talked about opening ones heart…but that is so true…we cannot always trust our judgements and what we see. How many times have you misjudged a person based upon what you see? Why is there the saying, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” Our judgements, what we see, what we think is not always correct. How many times have your thoughts caused you to accuse someone wrongly, or caused you such misunderstandings? I don’t want to argue about who is right or wrong, but it would be unfortunate for you to see things through one lens.
    Please…complaining about the food or not being able to leave…
    Have you ever thought about asking for more? Or did you even try asking for more?
    Not being able to leave…how many students think of the opportunity as a way to go to an exotic country for cheap price…yeah the volunteering is good, but that is just a perk…not a big thing on ones TO DO list.
    What is the focus of college students today…to PARTY! How can college students not be trusted to leave the premesis and go drinking? How can we assure your safety if you are leaving as you wish, when you have come all the way there under the care of IYF?
    Be reasonable people, and think!!!
    Have you lived your whole life just being taken advantage of? Can’t you just accept when your being cared for. Plus, it’s an organization based on Christian principles and teachings of the Bible…ofcourse they are going to hope that you will change (believe in Jesus) or at least have some insight into it…There are millions of people who do believe in Jesus, and honestly, it’s not necessarily a bad thing…People have found peace and happiness through receiving Christ…
    Do you think these people are devising these evil plans to lure you into their scheme? Do you think they have nothing better to do than that, when they are busy as it is trying to preach the gospel and really bring hope to people’s lives.
    Well, if that’s the way you choose to think, I can do nothing of it…
    But, my frustrations towards such nonsense is too great to express all in words.

  3. Interesting how peoples views differ. I attended the World Camp this year, and perhaps it’s more now that they have more experience or that our experiences simply differ; but from my going, other than the tight schedule, which is due to the fact that everything is now crammed into 4 days vs 7 or even as it was before in Korea, 2 weeks., I can not say I felt in anyway the same. The food, for me, they always seemed to pile it on, and many people went back for seconds. When registering for the World Camp there was a section that said to note any dietary restrictions “Vegetarian, Vegan, etc” We also had free time; at the beach for a few hours, and for a half a day, allowed to go anywhere we wanted. We were allowed to leave the hotel at other times as well. Participating was “mandatory” but of course there were those who didn’t attend every thing, other than those who were younger, middle school and so on, whose teachers or parents made them go. I think that was more so people didn’t use the World Camp as an excuse to just have a place to stay and for food for a few days cheaply, while they went out and did whatever They said there was a problem previously with people not realizing it was a christian program, so they tried to make it more clear, that you should at least be open to Christianity if you were to attend; though some people still didn’t know and were in for a shock when they found out there would be bible lectures and sermons. I didn’t feel that it was in anyways coercive, and I am always shocked by the things people say was said to them; I’ve only ever had very helpful understanding people. Of course, as anywhere, there are always people whom are misguided and you can not blame the church for those peoples actions- if they themselves twist things. Actually now that I think back there was one woman who had once, hurt my feelings, but others told me not to take what she said to heart, that she herself had a good heart and meant well but didn’t know how to express it. I know some of the things that are done also seem odd, but I also think it is the big cultural difference that makes things harder as well; ways of thinking and what is “normal” anyways. For instance ;I personally had no problem with the schedule for instance as I regularly wake up at 4:20 every morning to go run (and while at World Camp woke up at 3:50 to get my run in), and enjoyed the structure and activities planned. I know many others were always really sleepy though and didn’t like waking up so early, etc. However they also stayed up later- if you went to sleep right after the last sermon, say 10:30, you’d still have about 7 hours of sleep.

  4. I am a Chinese student in Chicago, and I was introduced into a 2011 world camp (similar to this winter camp, produced by the same organization, but the location is in the New York Cties, Long Island) by two Korean missionaries I met around my campus. At first they said it would be a great cultural experience and meet many people around the world, and the key point here is it’s kinda cheap, costing $250, to stay there and live in a hotel for a week.
    However, it turns out to be a nightmare. Yes, exactly as what the author said, it’s a cult. I have to say I’m an atheist then and I never have any religious experience before, but this kind of religious is much terrible! They kinda “tortured” you to sleep only 5 hour a day, crammed in public and private “mind lectures” into your mind, constantly telling you how evil you are and you have no choice but to listen to their pastors, who are envoys of God. Besides, you have to fit into their schedule. You are prohibited to leave their campus. You have to eat their spicy Korean food. You have to stay in a hotel single room with four other people (can you imagine that?? Five people for a SINGLE room!). Otherwise if you disobey them, you will receive a personal long chat with pastors, or you will be kick out immediately, which means you have to go home with your own expenses.
    The pastors and so-called teachers there will do everything to persuade you with into joining their organization/church/missionary school. I am a chemistry major and I know much about science. Therefore I did question the pastors and “teachers” much biblical and scientific questions about God, but they cannot answer them. And guess what one of the pastors said?? He told me there is another Chinese male student there and he joined their missionary school last year. Now he has married with another “sister” (another Korean American cult member) and he has a green card (permanent residency in US) now because of his marriage!
    I am totally shocked! What did you mean?! You just wanna tell me if I quite my graduate school in Chicago and join your organization, I would have chance to get marry with your cult members (all Koreans but they are US citizens) in order to get a green card?!
    I have to admit that I do want to stay in US and get a green card. However I want to make it in a decent way by studying and working hard, not by hiding my true belief and joining your cult to marry some Korean-Americans.
    Btw, they promised us to have a chance to tour around the New York City at the last day, but they failed. Instead, there is an additional farewell mind lecture sermoned by Pastor Ock Soo Park.
    I did meet some foreign friends there, but the whole environment there is scary. I am pretty sure even a craziest Christian cannot stand this.

    • Trust me lm one of the ones u call crazy christians n l cldn’t stand them.l hvnt witnessed an interacial marriage in kenya bt the members intermarry n its sickening tht they use the bible to expound on their self-proclaimed interpratations of the same.

      • The church is not a cult! just because this church does not flow the way YOU want it to does not mean it is a cult!

  5. I thank you for your post and research, Donnie.

    I have visited the main church, of Good News Mission, in Gangnam, South Korea, a couple of times. I have to say, the people were kind. But, the feeling from the environment was evil. Instead of displaying a cross, to represent Christ; they displayed life sized photos of Ock Soo Park (whom I refuse to call a pastor). I was heard disagreeing with the “Word Of Park,” and I was counseled after the “service.”
    As I visited with the church, though a Korean friend, I was taught we are sinless, once we are saved. People would approach me and ask me, “Are you without sin?” In the Bible we are tought the only one who ever walked the Earth, without sin, was Jesus. Jesus also taught us how to pray, teaching us the “Our Father.” In this prayer we asked God to forgive us our sins.
    I feel so BLESSED that God gave me the gift of discernment. Even though I cared about my friend and the church members I met, I could not sell out Jesus. I pray for those people all the time. God also said there is awful punishment for those that continue to teach HIS word incorrectly, after they have been shown their errors.
    I will continue to pray for my friend, those in the church and for those that fall visit to the Good News Mission mind control efforts.

  6. I’m sorry, but you guys are really selfish. How could you curse the place that I can never show enough thankfulness too? The Good News Mission, if it weren’t for them, honestly, where would I be? I’d still be rundown doing drugs in the corner, or wherever I want in the public. If it wasn’t for them, I’d be in the Bloods right now. Planned crimery, drug cartel, gun shippings, robberies. My life was only darkness whatever directions I look at. If it wasn’t for them, while my old friends are living a life of despair, and crime, I would follow them. My friends die, and my hope dies, where would I get happiness in this cruel world? Drugs? Please. I tried that before. You’re only fake happy for like 2 hours. I’m sorry that you guys think this way, but with the way your thinking, you can never accept a new mind or even Jesus. A cup could only be filled when it’s empty. Your cups are still filled with yourself, and your judgement, that God cannot fill it. Are you serous? really? I wake up for school at 5. Sermons? so what? you dont have any complaints about having 8 forty-five mintue classes at school! Food? Wow you must have lived so comfortably. You guys are really funny for complaining about the smallest things. How will you overcome big things in your life? Im sorry, but you should be ashamed. The couple people that complain, these are their complaints in a nutshell: sleep, sermons, and food. Grow up. Did you ever put yourself in their shoes? Have you ever thought about what they go through just to get you open? To feed thousands of people at an IYF event? To even plan for you guys? How can you ever be thankful when you think like this???

  7. unfortunately yes this organization is a cult. like many of you i was approached at school by the good news corp broadcasting winter camp summer camp etc. originally i want to the stake to take free piano class and Korean class then i started getting more involved with this organization through different activities they were doing. and yes the question came up do you have sin? my answer no i do not have sin but i do sin (wrong answer) next question how much percent of you is evil? my answer not that much (wrong answer) i am 100% evil so they say! everyone is according to them and (their doctrine). the people who are deeply inbreed in this organization are truly humble people which i admire about them and want to become like that but at the same time they are brainwashed no doctrine is true beside theirs and they ask you the same questions over and over until their correct answer is imbedded in you and now your answering right and they will no longer question you, i ad been with iyf and studied the people for e fer months and i too went to the English camps. and i could truly say many people were breaking down in their even hard core Christians started to rethink their belief and other couldn’t understand how they have the bible so twisted they read you one section tiny part of the bible taking it out of content and manipulating the words so that they can justify they belief. i am a christian but the method they used to persuade me scared me they are very aggressive. i have many friend who are in this organization who whom are not Korean some of them take the good from the organization and use it others are sucked fully into it and are manipulated and used to their disposal like a slave do this that this that and now what ever the pastor says go. and when times got really ruff from one of my friend they didn’t even take her in she was out of a place and was struggling financially she had been with the organization for about a year devoting all of her time hoping when they say hop and at world camp they threaten her saying that she cant go to English camp because she supposibly had an attitude with her group leader it was sad to see her cry over these people who treat her so wrong. they were pretty much scared of me i suppose because i took no crap i wast humble enough to be their mule and when i tried to help my friend and tell her to get out of it i guess she told the people what i said and they told her to never hang out with me because i was evil (wow) really me i don’t think so im just rationally but anything not submissive to their rules is evil’ they also believe that since we have sin it doesn’t matter what we do we could kill somebody but it’ll be OK because Jesus had already died for our mistake and they made a story about that im like ooookay that’s weird. and yes world camp they did provide enough food but they schedule was way hectic really 5 hrs of sleep is not enough but that is the life of the people that live and work for iyf 530 to 12 most are not use to that but majority of the people thee get up early in the morning get to church work all day clean etc then go to bed around 10 12 depending when they get their job done. over all i think their nice kind people in heart their just brain wash to the point were they cant get out of it and believe that there not. fyi they only really care about the people who will be knew converts once your converted your pretty much nothing well more like the idk not the first person the think about. i plan on going to good news corp i think i have my head on right enough to not be lured in their traps but their are qualities i want to attain.

  8. Wow. Im shocked to had found this and I thank you. I’ve been “with” this organization for a year, not good news corp but IYF and I wasn’t able to attend the english camp, by reading your experience im kind of glad. Im really shocked. I’m like with them internally, I only attended they’re Korean classes here in NYC and like you said their ad was everywhere it was hard to not miss. X_X So, i started attending Korean class this year (I go the manhattan branch here in NYC) and the first day BAM they’re offering this opporunity to teach english in korea like an exchange program. I’m extremely glad I found this and did not commit that foolish mistake.

  9. So funny, you only leave the negative comments and erase the positive? so funnyyy

  10. Hi. I’ve been with IYF since it began back in 1995. You could say that IYF shaped me. I received salvation and understood that Jesus Christ gave me access to sanctification by way of His blood. I was presented the Gospel through the Bible and through the Scripture, gained the faith that I was righteous despite my sinful nature. I live my life in thankfulness, humble adoration, and constant praise of Christ who died and resurrected for a filthy sinner like me. I’m now an earthen vessel that contains the most precious contents: Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Only can a clean, righteous heart harbor these. I don’t dwell in condemnation, rather hope that this message can enter the hearts of those ready and willing to give their lives to God. I am righteous through Christ. Period.

    With that said, if not for IYF, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’m not on the street, I’m not wearing some ridiculous cult uniform and I’m not holed up in a forest habitat, completely detached from society. I work in NYC, I have a house, a family, a church I attend regularly, and causes that I devote my spare time to when I’m not in the office (IYF). I owe the organization my career because through it, I discovered my passion for writing and English literature. Sure, I could have happened upon it some other way, but I didn’t. IYF introduced me to it by asking me to edit an article they were planning on publishing. And the rest is my history.

    I’m not handing over my life’s savings to fuel the “ambitions” and “visions” of IYF. I can’t say that I’m in control of my life anymore because God has the reigns on that, but I can say that IYF and its programs present nothing less than a precious opportunity to serve other people, both here at home and overseas. It really saddens me that online conversations have skewed the image of IYF so much. Let’s be honest. If Pastor Ock Soo Park is such a “problem” as he’s being presented, why does any organization’s website devote a section to the Founder, or CEO, or Chairman, or whatever? Pastor Ock Soo Park represents IYF to the world. He founded it. Pastor Park has NEVER claimed to be a prophet, messiah, or any other blasphemous entity associated with cult proceedings. He’s our Pastor and I choose to follow him for the sake of my own spiritual development.

    The arguments made in this thread disappoint me. I helped create the programs that are being bashed throughout the comments thread. I know NOTHING about cult assimilation strategies, starvation, exhaustion, etc. All I know is that IYF has to offer a lot of material in a little bit of time. Obviously, 2 weeks overseas to teach English will not get anyone fluent. IYF offers the year so you can go to Korea, teach consistently, and actually see your students get better. IYF English Camp is to get the short-term students psyched about learning English so that it can become a lifelong process. We’re a Christian organization, and we use our programs to spread the Good News of the Gospel that I spoke about in the first paragraph. We never promised the process would be easy. We never said it would be a breeze. Volunteering is intense, draining, difficult, memorable, and a path to discover what true happiness is all about. I have a job that pays me money so I can pay the bills, but if that were the end of it, how sad is that? Causes like IYF give me an outlet to reach people and change lives.

    So let me break it down:

    1. We’re missions focused. That’s clear on our website.
    2. We prepare you for volunteering, and it’s not peaches and cream all the time. We’re not doing this for leisure.
    3. This is not a cult. I repeat, NOT a cult. There’s no coercion. You roll with IYF, you adopt the mindset so that the mission can get accomplished, same as any other organization you get involved with.
    4. Food and sleep-wise? As for food, we bring together several hundred volunteers together at one time and it’s impossible to cater to the individual. We had a lot of people breaking their backs to prepare what you ate. And sleep? I’ve pulled all-nighters for my work many a time. Get used to it because that’s what entry-level employment is all about in this country.
    5. Pastor Ock Soo Park– He is the founder of the organization, our representative, my senior pastor, and rests not 1 week out of the year, traveling the world to preach the Gospel and getting young people to snap out of their funk and become leaders who will change the world. We need it right now, have you seen what’s going on around you?
    6. For every negative story, there are 5 positive ones. The NY Times article you pulled for reference came from two young men who didn’t even finish the training program or cross the border. I firmly believe it would have been a great volunteering experience for them.
    7. I am sorry your physical/mental experience was bad for you, but IYF was established for young people to get once-in-a-lifetime experiences of spreading hope. A lot of them came back, speak fondly of their time, but are not associated with us anymore. And that’s OK. We just wanted to open their eyes to a different world beyond what they’ve been used to seeing.

    Lastly, I am really saddened this IYF and Good News Corps is spoken in the same breath as some of these awful cult practices of the past. That is very unfair and off-base. Please go read our statement of faith on GoodNewsMission.net

    Thanks for reading.

    • Dan, you wrote

      “Pastor Ock Soo Park– He is the founder of the organization, our representative, my senior pastor, and rests not 1 week out of the year, traveling the world to preach the Gospel and getting young people to snap out of their funk and become leaders who will change the world.”

      Let me, as an insider who has been in this cult for more than 7 years, put you (and all those here who think GNM is their salvation) straight: That’s a pile of lies.

      Ock-Soo Park did not found the organisation. It was in 1971 when he was ministered to and appointed by Dick York. Ock-Soo Park failed to establish his organisation “Guwonpa” (salvation tribe), and started over again with the same, but now hidden premise under the name “Good News Mission”. There is not a single clue as to what GNM did before 1995. I tell you: It existed as “Guwonpa” (salvation tribe). It failed, and it started over again. This is something the leaders of GNM do not like to talk about. And if you ask, they will deny straight away. But most of the GNM leaders are brain-washed by Ock-Soo Park anyway, so they just regurgitate what he tells them. I have never seen an intelligent or bright person in GNM who has any sort of “power” in GNM. They all seem to be quite dumb. In fact, they are afraid of intellectual people because these people might actually start to ask questions. And they keep intellectual people away from GNM leadership by twisting a verse in the Bible that says that the “wise” shall be put to shame, or something along that line (can’t remember the exact verse, but this is what they will tell you when you ask why there are only uneducated people in GNM leadership).

      Ock-Soo Park claims to have the “right” interpretation of the Bible and the right heart of God, and from that he derives who has “the right heart” to “be established” and who not. This way, he can make sure there is only people in the leadership of GNM who are loyal and devout to him.

      The only critic was defamed a few years ago. His name is Kim Song-Hoon. He was “number two” in the organsation, but he started to ask questions. Of course, GNM went and defamed him as being “in trial” and so on, the usual name-and-shame game cults play with doubters and leavers. In the end, he became an un-person. We have never heard from him again.

      GNM itself has a two-way doctrine that puts Koreans above all other races. This is due to the fact that this organisation intersperses shallow and vain aspects of Korean culture with Christianity. The result is a so-called Prosperity Gospel, but with the twist that it holds true only for Koreans: If you are ethnically Korean (or married to a Korean), are intelligent, wealthy (and possible donate a lot to the church) and able to smooth-talk, then you are honoured in the church, get all sorts of positions offered and are generally considered to be very spiritual. If you are Korean and not so wealthy, you get all sorts of help from GNM. You get free medicine, financial support etc. All this is against Biblical rules already. But here’s the second part of their doctrine:

      If you are not an ethnical Korean and are intelligent, educated, possibly even wealthy, you get defamed for wanting to “establish yourself”. They use the Bible to tell you that the “fools” shall get established, and the knowledgable shall get “shamed” (i.e. called out in sermons and purposely ignored when it comes to assign positions to church members). And if you are Non-Korean and poor, you will not receive any help. You will get told to “just pray”. And if nothing changes (because God may have delayed His plan a bit), you get told that you do not “have the right heart” and are “disconnected from God” and “need fellowship” and so on…

      The entire organisation is a three-class society, with Korean leaders at the top, Korean laity in the middle and Non-Koreans at the bottom.

      Not let me talk about how you worship Ock-Soo Park:

      The entire notion that a church must have a leader is wrong. The Bible speaks of the priestship of all believers. Why do you need a representative (in particular, why such a smooth-talking one) and why to you need a “senior pastor”? There are no “senior pastors” in the Bible, just shepherds. This is another way of Ock-Soo Park establishing himself above everyone: He calls himself “senior”, yet the Bible tells us to not establish ourselves. But again, this is needed because Koreans like to give themselves titles because this reflects their “social status” and in turn their spirituality, according to the rules of Korean society.

      Ock-Soo park rests a lot every day. All what he’s doing is to be on stage for two hours a day and shaking VIPs’ and politicians’ hands. For the rest of the day, he’s sleeping in his hotel room. And he spends his day sleeping so that he can claim that he only sleeps 4 hours a night. Yes, he does sleep 4 hours a night. What he does not mention is that he sleeps during the day a lot as well. And when he’s awake you would imagine that, as a senior pastor, he’d look after his flock. No, he doesn’t mingle with the “peasants” below him. He claims to be a senior pastor, yet he does not take care of his flock and their spiritual problems (and a good deal of it is created by GNM itself). He rather likes to mingle with people in high seats (ministers, politicians etc.), in the hope that their social status reflects on him.

      Ock-Soo Park is a lazy bum who has never worked in his entire life. All he does is wear a suit and drive an expensive car. Which brings us to finances:

      As a member of GNM, you are expected to donate to the church. They claim that the donations are anonymous, but in reality, the pastor of any local branch knows who donates how much, and he assigns positions according to this: Whoever donates most gets the highest position (remember: Koreans like titles), assumed that that person is Korean. If it’s a Non-Korean, nothing will happen. Then you ask what happens to all that money. If you stay in one of their churchs for a while, you will notice that they like to waste money on things that “look big” and will, according to them, attract new members. Truth is, however, that people (Non-Koreans in particular) are not that shallow, and won’t fall for GNM’s delusions of grandeur. This goes to the point where churches go into debts, sometimes up to 100000 dollar. The next thing you hear is them whining that they need God’s grace financially. Of course, money does not fall out of sthe sky, so they ask their Korean headquarters for a bail-out. And they receive it everytime. So that they can go one wasting money again. And the irony is that they claim that these bail-outs are God’s help.

      GNM does not like when people reveal the true nature of it. They also don’t like it when people ask questions. There have have been numerous complains about these things on their official web site, but they deleted all criticism, and did not allow anybody to write on the bulletin boards any more. Their official excuse is that there was advertising on the boards, and they erased it. This is a plain lie, they erased criticism.

      In summary, I can say that GNM largely comprises of shallow and vain liars who value positions and titles more than Jesus, even more than their own integrity and supposed friendships with fellow church members. And, by God, I have learnt the hard way that there is no friendship in these churchs.

      • Everything Earl Pearl says here are my experiences, exactly. I am over 50 years old and was with GNM from 1995 – 2009.

      • Earl is exactly right! I narrowly escaped being ensnared by this cult myself. I married a woman, Shelia Chafin. who was brought into the cult by her brother, Gary Chafin. Gary “The Elder” married a Korean woman who introduced him into this deception. Originally Gary had a problem with the “Church” which nearly led to divorce. I suppose that he saw the “error of his ways” and seemes to have embraced the full bill of goods. He has had over the past few years periods where he had an abundance of cash flow and I surmise that he bought his position as “The Elder” by significant contributions to the cult cause. He is, in my opinion, a token Caucasian whom the Church and Ock Soo Park perceive to be useful in helping to bring in other losers into the Cult Curriculum.
        I was married to Shelia for about 4 years during which time she divested me of my entire retirement pension. She led me to believe that she was going to make big commissions at her job and would help to pay for rent of a house I knew I could not afford. She ended up never contributing a thing. I paid all the bills, bought her things she wanted and generally gave her a very good lifestyle. Her money paid to send kids to World Camp (which I refer to as Korean Disneyland)Everything for the Church… nothing for everyday living expenses. I know, I’m a fool for not cutting my losses and let her depend on God (or her brother)for support. Instead I let her get to me with more lies.

        When we divorced, I learned that lying and stealing are obviously condoned by the church since Elder Gary used his money to pay for a divorce I had not asked for and appently paid his lawyer to leave my personal property out of the decree. Long story short, My ex was able to steal a slew of things I had bought for our home and things I had owned before I ever met her. We were civil about the divorce and I allowed her to use my personal agreed upon property until I could get a place of my own. After I did get my own apartment, she and Elder decided that she should just go ahead and keep everything. She justified this by saying that I cursed her. Well, I did curse her after I found out that she was keeping my furniture and TV… I still am!

        Enough of this rant… it sounds like sour grapes, anyway. I saw her a few times after the divorce and we actually attempted a reconciliation or at least I thought we did. I went several times to “church” with her and I really tried to see what she wanted me to see. One of the things that told me to run was once in a prayer meeting led by Elder Gary, a conversation was broght up by a hispanic lady about oborted babies… did the aborted infant go to Heaven or Hell? Gary’s answer was “Hell” because the fetus had not accepted Christ. The do otherwise would make God a liar. RUN, DO NOT WALK if you should be tempted to get involved with these people.

  11. the IYF is the best org. i have ever known.it teaches nothing but the true gospel of JESUS CHRIST.the thing is many people called themselves christians but don’t believe in what JESUS accomplished on the cross.Donnie all u have said i all illusions the iyf don’t brain wash people instead the gospel is preach and if u believed JESUS enter into your heart and starts to change u.Also there is a big difference between between the unification church and the good news mission churuh,according to u the unification church tells u to believe in moon their leader but the good news mission tells u to believe in JESUS only as your savior not pastor Park.Many people don’t believe the gospel of JESUS rather say its heresy.Even Jesus was called a heretic by the jewish when HE told them to believe HIM. True change comes only through JESUS all we have to do is open our hearts and believe that HE took away our sins and HE can change our lives.Donnie u i decieve by satan throw away your thoughts and accept the gospel and Jesus will change your life.

    • Moses, you wrote

      “good news mission tells u to believe in JESUS only as your savior not pastor Park.Many people don’t believe the gospel of JESUS rather say its heresy.Even Jesus was called a heretic by the jewish when HE told them to believe HIM”

      Rubbish! Many small and big leaders in GNM worship Ock-Soo Park more than they worship Jesus.. Rather than preaching the gospel, they want to please Ock-Soo Park. They downright become chummy with him, slick and greasy.

      Fact is: People listen to Ock-Soo Park more than to the Bible. In fact, they don’t even read it, they rather listen to how Park interprets it for his own purposes (racism etc.). If everybody in GNM would read and understand just the four gospels in the New Testament, they would throw out Park from GNM in no time.

      And you yourself are abusing the name of Jesus for your own sake here to justify GNM.

  12. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Your whole experience was incredibly fascinating. Like most things like this I just pictured cults as being something crazy people are a part of and the members aren’t sound as it is. This was a real eye opener showing that really anyone can be brainwashed and coaxed into it. The lack of nutrition during your time at the camp was most surprising. I find it hard to believe that they could do that and no one would really say anything.

  13. I’ve never actually run into this group on campus but I’m not surprised that they’re around. Groups like this tend to look for young people because we’re more impressionable. I myself grew up in church and at one point knew about one organization that had retreats where youth from across the country could attend. Luckily, I never attended one because I found out they treated the retreat attendees horribly such as rigorous physical training to build spiritual resilience or something like that.
    But at the same time, I keep in mind that not every religious group will be like that. Even the family and friends I think of as having the most common sense could easily decide to believe some group’s mission such as this and that’s their choice. I would only try to interfere if I thought they were harming themselves.

  14. It’s par the course for fringe Korean religious groups. The Korean “church” Shinchonji has a volunteer arm called Mannam, and for the longest time they tried to deny the connection. The foreigners in Mannam went through great lengths trying to make it clear the two weren’t connected, but in the end they were all busted.

    Be wary of movements coming from Korea trying to unite the world through peace, and volunteer activism. More likely than not, they’re part of some fringe religious group that thinks their leader is the next messiah.

    • I was attending this church until some time ago and since the very beginning I had a feeling that something was not quite right. Every single fact that is presented just leads me to corroborate my suspicions. However, it is now convenient to ask: Where to find a true church where the true Gospel of God is preached?

      I have attended the Catholic Church as well as other Christian Churches but all they did was to lead to my disappointment.

      Where does our faith all stand? When did it stop being a matter of our beliefs to become a merely commercial issue? I just cannot believe how some people can play with something so sacred -the Christian Faith- for their own benefit. It is just so sad, what kind of world are we living in?……

      • It’s not that Jesus did not know that such persons will come along.

        And he also stated how these people will be dealt with.

  15. I actually went to the world camp in Korea .. They did not under feed us.. actually over fed us. Im Korean and the korean food was authenticly made by korean “ajimas” (older ladies) Yes they did trick us, I was very mad about not being told about the ” mind lectures” But i had a great time… For $300 they took us on trips to tour korea, went to an amusument park ect ect .. We were allowed out of the hotel/ church area…

    • did u go to the camp to know and seek god …or did u go to simply hav a good time?……oh , my dear brother!…get down on ur knees….get down and pray ….read gods word….romans 12:2 ..do not conform to the standards of this world , but be renewed with the transforming of your mind…..o my beloved the peace jesus gives you this world can never give you…..

  16. Wow! according to you and what you wrote, you said you dont believe the Bible, that means you are not Saved (you are not born again) Spiritual things are nonsense to the carnal minded. You are a fool, bible says, the fool says there is no God. The bible is the word of God. The Bible is God Himself. John 1:1 Turn to Christ and be saved!

  17. I’ve been to Mexico to attend the so called English Camp last year. Like many of you’ve mentioned, I was approached by IYF missionaries (Korean students) on campus. I really dont care much about getting up early or listening to their sermon. I’m a quite liberal Christian and I’m pretty happy to accept more interpretations of the Bible and meet new friends (most of them are asian students).
    But what disgusts me at the end is on the road back to Dallas, one of the pastors from my local church approached me and started fellowshipping. He encouraged me join in their missionary trip for a year and spread gospel blah blah blah. Finally he asks if I’m an American and I said nope I’m a Bulgarian. The he asked if I’m thinking about the God’s match and I should marry to a true Christian….. Okeeeyyy I know what you’are doing now. A marriage agency?? I pretend saying yes. Then he started recommending his student missionaries to me… well I gonna say that sucks a lot. I never thought about marrying his Korean boys just after a week in Mexico??? But the pastor kept shamelessly saying let God work and God has a plan to set up churches in Bulgaria. If I could marry one of their missionaries I could help them immigrate. That’s very disgusting and ridiculous! And I am so scared you know. I kept texting to my sister on the bus just in caase they would do something to me.
    They were as kind as usual. It never turned into a kidnapping or forcing-marriage story, but I have to say all my pleasant memories turns to null after that.

  18. My story is a little different from most stories I read above. Good News Mission(GNM) never approached me – I approached them. I’m Namibian (in south west Africa – check your map). I grew up in a Pentecostal church. Was exposed to many / different teachings and heard the gospel in many different forms and shapes. Was exposed to and taught how to speak in tongues, had hands laid on to receive the Holy Spirit and much more, including how to give financially and expect a blessing according to how or what you give. All this became too much and I was searching for truth. I approached a pastor from GNM in my neighbourhood – very cautiously and was a bit disappointed in the fact that he wanted to teach me about the Bible not knowing me or showing interest to find out. I endured and listened. I was asked the same questions as I heard some others say e.g. are you a sinner; are you righteous; etc. and I seemed to have answered most wrong. The way my first meeting went was enough to make me run and never turn back. I was offered a half glass of water, which was strange in our culture and also Korean food (weird for a Namibian that never saw and don’t trust eastern culture food). To make a long story short. I listened a little more and there was no personal agenda except from what I perceived an inexperienced missionary who was over eager and enthusiastic without any cultural training just wanting to preach the word of God. What I heard from him was in no contradiction from what I learned over the years. I listened very critically and am still critical (after 4 years to my own detriment) therefore I read through this article carefully and all the comments made. Many of the comments are true and could be justified. Some are true and I find them deeply embedded in the Korean Culture and their way of doing things – so it is carried over by the Koran people without sometimes being aware that this is tradition and not necessarily Biblical (arranged marriages; taking of your shoes before entering the house; hard working – not resting culture of the Korean people, etc.) I made this observation after visiting Korea in June-13. Before this visit I was confused and wondering why they do things in a certain way and sometimes mix it in with the church as a rule.

    I welcome the article and it is needed because some people are misguided. However, most comments made on this article I find vindictive and comes as a result of ignorance and obviously – Satan also has his agents working in our midst.

    I visited Korea with my Wife and 2 daughters and my older sister. Although it was not allowed an exception was made for us to stay together in a family room. Because we planned our trip, we had enough money to use the public transport system and were flexible to attend the parts of the program we selected. We were not coerced in any way or evicted from the program because we did this. It clearly was different from the norm which was a very controlled setup due to the multitude of young people (over 4000).

    At the camp several high level officials of the Korean government acknowledged the work Ock Soo Park and IYF does for the youth of Korea. (not sure if you know that Korea has one of the highest suicide stats amongst youth in the world) There was also a ministers forum where government officials (ministers and deputy ministers) of more than 30 countries were represented. Amongst them were the deputy minister of education from our own country – Namibia. Something to think about.

    I completed a 2 year Bible study course for the right reasons but cunningly knowing that if there was something fishy – it will come out in what they teach their ministers / preachers. With confidence I can say that over the 2 years I learned so much about the Bible and about my own image after man fell in sin compared to the perfect image of Christ. Although I have been involved in so many activities of GNM, nothing compels me no stay on longer than wanting to learn more about God’s grace. Even in my business I experience growth in a worry-free environment, simply because I learned to trust in Christ and not in my own abilities and efforts. I also learned that the more I give, the more God gives. That I cannot out-give Him. Our business has no marketing or sales department – we get so much new business that it becomes hard to contain. My prayers these days is for God to give me wisdom on how to sustain the growth.

    My family’s trip to Korea must have been in God’s will as we prayed and all the funds game in through gifts from friends that were unaware of our travel plans. We even won money from a competition we did not know we participated in (automatic draw by our telecommunications company). Government payback on reduced taxes, etc. It was all arranged and I can truly say I have seen God work in this fashion in GNM more than I ever experienced at any other church I ever went to. Can someone be foolish enough to set up the opening ceremony of an event hosting more that 30 thousand people while the clouds are hanging thick over the beach, hosting dignitaries of over 30 countries in the open – knowing God will provide for the program to be completed. It did drizzle lightly 2 or 3 times but the entire program was finished at world class level. Only a church operating in faith can do such things through God. There are so many similar examples I experienced in the short period that I have been with GNM that even if I want to, and even though many of the comments made, makes me uncomfortable – just looking at what God does through this church, is what makes me realise that it is not about GNM or Ock Soo Park, it is all about how God uses the church and the humble and willing people of the church.

    To whoever want to comment, please make sure that your comments are useful to help people who are really captured in cults without acting as representative of Satan throwing stones against God’s own (like Paul did when he stoned Stephen -Acts 6 – he thought he was doing good helping God – and later he was in the same situation – see Acts 24:14)
    So don’t let signals that come from a people because of their origin rob you of something great. After all – no one can force you to do what you don’t want to do. If you were asked to become a missionary in Japan and you say no, it’s you choice. A woman who gets asked for her hand in marriage that answers ‘no’ is not evil, its simply her choice. GNM has a recruitment and sifting process that will eventually get to the people that have a passion and are called for missions. People who might have missed this opportunity if they were never asked.

    • “I visited Korea with my Wife and 2 daughters and my older sister. Although it was not allowed an exception was made for us to stay together in a family room.”
      Well that’s an enormous red flag right there. Only a cult would have a rule not allowing family members to stay together. Nice they made an exception for you (I suspect it was because they would lose you if they applied it).

  19. Wow… I knew something was not right in this organization but now that I read your post I fully understood the nature of it. Let me share my experience of IYF and GNC. I’m just gonna say that I’m from Europe because I want to protect my privacy.

    I approached IYF myself. I was a teenager then and very interested in Korean culture. I wanted to learn the language and I found out about IYF’s Korean class. I started in 2010. At first it was very exciting. The people were nice and it was like a fun hobby to me. Then I got frustrated because they didn’t really teach much. All we did was repeat the same things over an over again. I felt that it would take ages until I could learn even a basic coversation. Anyway I stayed in the class even though I wasn’t that interested anymore.

    For over a year I just attented the classes but didn’t know what IYF or the people were. I didn’t care much. But then some changes happened in my life and I became miserable. I stopped studying Korean also. My teacher was concerned so she contacted me and said she missed me. I was so lonely at the time that I was excited when somebody actually wanted to be with me. She asked me to come to some IYF programme. At first I was a bit reserved because I knew it was a Christian organization. I was an Atheist and I didn’t have a very nice image of Christianity or any religions. But they were nice people. It was thrilling to get to know them. Even though I am an extremely shy person I got lots of new friends.

    My first visit at the church was awkward. 10-15 peope lived under the same roof. Their sermon room was in the cellar and they lived only for the church. It was amusing at first but I tend to be open minded so I didn’t hear any bells ringing. I just thought it was a poor church. They knew I was an Atheist but they invited me to a sermon. I attented out of curiosity. I had never been to a sermon before in any church so it was interesting. I observed their community in a scientific perspective. The sermon was sooo long. They’re always 1-2 hour. The pastor would repeat the same things over and over again. He stated things taken for granted about human nature and morals. I don’t need a pastor to tell me things I already know. But the fun part was that he was a story teller. I enjoyed the sermons because he waas so lively and used awesome metaphors and he shared stories of his own life.

    Little by little I spent more time with the church. For a long time I was just “the Atheist one”. I couldn’t tell my family or friends about them. I just told that I’m hanging out with these nice Korean friends. I also told that they were Christian but that didn’t bug me. I started to feel symphaty and love for them – just like a regular friendship. But they didn’t accept my atheism. So one day just to please them I lied that I believe and I want to learn more. I started attending the church reguralry but I was lying to everyone all the time. My heart was in pain. I guess i was emotionally at a very unstable state so little by little I started believing it all. Why else would the church members be so happy unless it’s God’s grace?

    It was a new world to me but I had to keep it hidden from my family. They wouldn’t have understood. I started to read the Bible but it was difficult. I didn’t know the book at all and everytime I thought I understood something GNC interpreted the section totally differently. Their whole view was irrational and everything they said contradicted. (e.g. I shouldn’t try to get to a good university and think that I’m good at studying but I should still study and pray for God’s grace.) There are many examples on other people’s texts on this page. Inspite of that I was panning to go to Korea as a volunteer. Honestly I wanted to teach English and get new experiences. I didn’t want to teach the Bible. My whole faith was just a big lie even to myself. I was just simply lonely. I wanted to have friends.

    I saved money and worked hard so that I could attend the World Camp in Korea with my fellow members in summer 2013. Honestly, it was very fun. It was my first trip to Korea and I met many awesome people (even outside the church). But just like other people have described, it was extremely exhausting. I started to dislike the whole church. I lost my “faith” completely in Korea. After I returned home I tried to avoid the church. I just couldn’t tell them that I had lost my faith. Then in autumn they invited me to some programme again. They needed a dancer for a performance so I thought I should help friends in need.

    I was really busy with my own life at the time. I had the finals of high school and I had to search for a job. But they demanded me to attend the practises almost daily (for the performance). Sometimes they would cancel it when I have already arrived and they didn’t even apologise. When I said that I have to study that day or I am very busy today, I can’t come, they vere not understanding. Instead, when a church member had something else do (not even important) it was okay to cancel. There was a clear hierarchy. Pastor – Korean church members – other people who lived in the church – members of the church who didn’t live there. I was at the very bottom.

    I was very pressured at the time. I was just tired and my mental was like a rollercoaster. It took over three years to finally figure out that it was a cult or something to that. For example, they said they’re poor and they need donations. But at the same time they travelled around the world many times in a year. They bought a pricey house and they always seemed to have money for the latest iPhone. But they almost begged for donations. Most members of the church were poor young students. Where on earth would they get money to give them? But they always said we should have the right heart. I’m not a magician who finds money when needs it. Instead, why don’t they just simply find a job?

    Also the young Korean missioners who had come to my country to serve in the church were like prisoners. They didn’t get friends outside the church. They weren’t even allowed to go out without the pastor’s permission. All they did was preparing for the next event and listen to sermons. I knew one Korean girl didn’t have a good time. Se was always an outsider and finally she left back to Korea pleading to her state of health. I kind of feel sorry for the Koreans also. They have been so young when they have travelled with the church to other countries. They didn’t know what they committed into.

    Finally, in late 2013 I decided to leave the church for good. I explained my feelings to one sister. I told her that my mental health can’t take it any longer and all the time I had been lying to myself. She didn’t listen to me at all and she started to nag about my deceisive thoughts and that I shouldn’t listen to myself. But luckily I didn’t crack. One time on my way to work I accidentally bumped into one sister. SHE ACTED AS IF NOTHING HAD HAPPENED AND ASKED WHEN AM I GONNA COME THE NEXT TIME. It was fucking scary so I just acted along.

    Now I’m on the alert every time I go out. They live near my home and we use the same station to go to work and all. Sometimes I see them and try to hide quickly. I’m losing my mind if i have to live like this. They still send me texts and harrass me with the new programmes and “I miss you” texts. I’m trying to get an apartment outside this city but I still haven’t got any. Day after day I’m becoming even more delucional and scared to go out. They have ruined my already weak mental. I still haven’t told my family any of this. I’m ashamed that I got fooled by a cult. They use the Korean class as a hook to get more innocent prey.

    The scariest part of this church is that they honestly think they’re happy. They don’t realize that their life is built on soft soil. They don’t see the evil. I’m sorry for all other Christians. I’m sure you’re not all like this. It’s unfortunate that one cult can blackmail all Christians for me.

    I’m sorry this post was so long. I guess I just had to let it out. I can’t really talk about this with anybody. If any of you church members recognised my identity, please just let it be. Don’t bother me anymore.

    • GNC preaches the true Gospel. The Korean culture is hard. I continue enjoying their fellowship. I just smile and say no if I don’t want to participate. So easy to enjoy The Gospel Of Jesus Christ. Been in the Church 10 years. It’s not a cult. You don’t have to eat the Korean food or do anything you don’t want to do. They leave the judging to The Lord.

      Shelia Chafin

      • It is a cult, and you would recognize it for one right away if you weren’t in it. If you had any understanding of Korean culture as well, and/or lived in Korea, you would also know it fits right in alongside the dozens of other cults here.

        Keep deluding yourself otherwise though. I’m sure it’s healthy.


May 20, 2014


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