Lee Jae-Rok: Where is Manmin Central Church Founder Now?

Netflix’s ‘In the Name of God’ is a documentary series that tells the stories of four controversial religious leaders from South Korea. Through this show, viewers get to see just how far religious fanaticism can go and how not everything might be what one thinks. The variety of tales presented to the audience acts as a stark reminder of how willing some people in power might be to take advantage of others and shy away from consequences. The story of Lee Jae-Rok is full of legal troubles, media actions, and religious fervor.

Who is Lee Jae-Rok?

Born on April 20, 1943, in Muan County, South Korea, Lee Jae-Rok founded the Manmin Central Church in 1982. According to his own account, the religious leader had a troubled youth due to being sick for about 7 years. Apparently, he was cured soon after being blessed by a Korean healing evangelist. Through this experience, Jae-Rok claimed that he became closer to God and became his chosen.

Lae Jae-Rok often called himself the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and claimed that he had a special connection with God. If the religious leader were to be believed, he apparently met up with the Holy Father and the Holy Son every year while he himself was an incarnation of the Holy Spirit. Jae-Rok also claimed to be a healer who would cure people through the power and will of God. He also preached that there were apparently five levels of heaven, and people who followed his guidelines would be able to attain the fifth level, known as the New Jerusalem.

One of the biggest principles that Jae-Rok’s followers had to adhere to was living a chaste life. He often asked people to curb sexual thoughts and lamented over those who did not maintain celibacy. However, people soon started accusing him of violating his own guidelines. In 1999, when Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation(MBC) decided to release a documentary on Jae-Rok, he criticized the action. His followers ended up storming MBC’s office in order to stop the transmission of the movie.

Lee Jae-Rok is Serving a Prison Sentence

Over the years, Lee Jae-Rok had been intimate with several women who were followers of the Manmin Church. Most of these women believed that Jae-Rok’s actions allowed them to receive the blessing of the lord and were under the assumption that the religious leader was always correct. A significant number of his victims had been a part of the religious group since a young age and fully abided by the doctrine preached by Jae-Rok.

However, after multiple accusations of sexual assault against him, Jae-Rok was arrested in May 2018. The imprisonment created an outrage among his followers, who believed that Jae-Rok was being unfairly treated. His trial and the results shocked people across South Korea as the religious leader was found guilty of 42 counts of sexual crimes. Given just how widespread Jae-Rok’s outreach was, it is hard to ascertain the extent of his actual actions.

In November 2018, Lee Jae-Rok was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was also assigned 80 hours of mandated therapy and was banned from working with anyone underage for a decade. As of writing, the founder of the Manmin Chruch is imprisoned in the Daegu Detention Center in Daegu, South Korea. Despite the outcome of his trial, Jae-Rok still has many followers who continue to support their spiritual guide and wish for him to be free.

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