Park Soon-Ja: Who Was Five Oceans CEO? How Did She Die?

Netflix’s ‘In the Name of God’ is a documentary that tells viewers about some of the most prominent South Korean religious leaders and how their actions led to unimaginable tragedies. One of the people covered in the documentary series is Park Soon-Ja, whose life and death left the world shocked. While she was alive, Park Soon-Ja became a respected figure among her followers and was often considered a spiritual leader by them. Needless to say, there are many who want to know more about Soon-Ja and just how she passed away.

Who Was Park Soon-Ja?

As the CEO of Five Oceans, Park Soon-Ja was well-known by the Korean public as a kind and compassionate woman who not only successfully ran a business but was also passionate about philanthropic ventures. Her company was apparently a manufacturer of craftwork, which hired different struggling artisans to work for them. Most of the people under Soon-Ja’s employment would sing praises of the woman, with many even considering her a spiritual leader.

However, not everything might have been as it seemed. While the company claimed to be taking care of orphans, some of the former employees stated some of these kids were actually their own children. One of the former employees, Yang Han-Seong, and his wife, Jo Cheing-Ja, stated in the Netflix documentary that Soon-Ja would tell them that her company would look after their children while they worked, which they thought was a good gesture until they realized just what was going on.

Park Soon-Ja Died in a Factory in Yongin

In August 1987, Park Soon-Ja came under investigation for having taken debts from about 220 creditors at a 20 to 40 percent rate. Combined, the female entrepreneur owed about 10 billion Korean won(about $9 million). While she was being questioned, Soon-Ja seemingly fainted and was immediately rushed to a hospital. However, she and her followers then fled, and the police could not find them for a long time.

On August 29, 1987, Park Soon-Ja and 31 other people were found dead in the ceiling of a factory in Yongin, South Korea. The victims included Soon-Ja’s two sons, Lee Yeong and Lee Jae, and daughter, Lee Gyeong. Initially, the case was ruled as a mass suicide, with authorities stating that the factory’s manager, Lee Gyeong-Su, was chosen as the man who would kill everyone and then ultimately hang himself. This theory was based on the fact that only Gyeong-Su was found hanging.

However, the case was reopened since investigators did not believe that the evidence supported the theory of mass suicide. While many people unanimously agreed that there were some other people involved in this crime, nothing concrete could be discovered regarding who the actual murders might be or just how the crime was committed. The discovery of the link between Five Oceans and Yoo Byung-Eun’s Evangelical Baptist Church of Korea did point some fingers at him.

It was believed that the funds collected by Five Oceans were actually meant for Yoo Byung-Eun so that he could settle his own financial woes. The discovery of these financial ties did lead to Byung-Eun being convicted of “habitual fraud under the mask of religion.” For his crimes, the religious leader had to spend four years in jail. Despite the various attempts made by the South Korean investigators, the case remains shrouded in mystery, even though the incident in question took place more than 35 years ago.

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