Sun Yeong-Re and Sun Bok-Re: Where Are Ex-Baby Garden Members Now?

Through Netflix’s ‘In the Name of God,’ viewers across the world become familiar with some infamous religious leaders of South Korea. The documentary series tells the stories of these individuals and how much their actions ended up impacting others, including their followers. In some cases, the apparent consequences ended up being fatal and cost many innocent lives. One such story is that of Choi Nak-Gwi, a 5-year-old boy whose mother, Sun Yeong-Re, and aunt Sun Bok-Re are both part of the Netflix series. The two women tell the story of what happened to the young boy and their own actions regarding the incident.

Sun Yeong-Re Regrets Past Actions

As a young woman, Sun Yeong-Re was one of the many followers of Kim Ki-Soon, the founder of the Baby Garden. Members of this particular religious sect had to live in a communion where the conditions that the followers lived in were apparently quite harsh. Most of the faithful were allegedly asked to work for the organization as their way of contributing to the community. Yeong-Re stated that she was one such follower, and her tasks included working in the fields.

Choi Nak-Gwi

Yeong-Re’s five-year-old son, Choi Nak-Gwi, seemingly had to live in the residential area while his mother tended to the fields. One day, in 1987, the child apparently was missing his mother and decided to throw his own excrement on the wall. This seemed to have infuriated Ki-Soon, who allegedly asked Nak-Gwi to be stripped and tied in a pigsty. The five-year-old was then reportedly kept in the same condition for many days and beaten up by several followers who were told that Nak-Gwi was possessed by Satan.

According to Yeong-Re, the same explanation was given to her, who, though terrified, believed Ki-Soon and agreed to her child’s brutal treatment. After days of allegedly being treated so harshly, Nak-Gwi apparently passed away, and the newly broke Jeong-Re. However, she self-admittedly remained a follower of Ki-Soon, and even signed a false death certificate that stated that Nak-Gwi had died of a heart attack. However, Cho Myeong-Ho, the child’s father, sent a letter to legal authorities explaining the station, which was one of the many incidents that were addressed in Ki-Soon’s trial following her surrender in September 1996.

Yeong-Re admitted that prior to being brought to the court for her testimony, she was coached by Ki-Soon’s followers to lie on the stand and not tell the truth. In the end, during Ki-Soon’s trial, the mother testified that her child had died of a heart attack. Myeong-Ho shared that this enraged him, and he could not understand why Yeong-Re would do such a thing. Now with over 35 years since the death of Choi Nak-Gwi, Yeong-Re expressed her extreme regret regarding the situation. She called herself “heartless” and was visibly upset that her actions apparently led to the death of her son.

Sun Bok-Re is Living with Regret and Guilt

Sun Bok-Re is the sister of Sun Yeong-Re and the aunt of Choi Nak-Gwi. The woman was also part of the Baby Garden community and admitted that she knew about the treatment that her nephew was facing. In fact, Bok-Re may have been one of the first to hit the child, and she stated that she was asked by Ki-Soon to feed Nak-Gwi pig excrement, which the child repeatedly spit out. She was then allegedly asked to beat Nak-Gwi with a stick, but the woman had not realized that the stick might have had nails on them as she stated that the hit left much more wounds than she had anticipated.

While Bok-Re stated that she had left her nephew after the above-mentioned hit, it apparently did not stop others from beating up the young boy. Just like her sister, Bok-Re seemingly knew what was going on but followed in her sister’s footsteps and did nothing to stop it, which seems to have become one of the biggest regrets of her life. After learning about Nak-Gwi’s death, Bok-Re could not believe that her little nephew had passed away and would be reminded of the child by the smallest of things.

Despite Ki-Soon’s acquittal from the case that addressed the death of Nak-Gwi, Bok-Re maintains a strong hatred for the woman and deeply regrets how her actions contributed to the end of such an innocent life that was related to her by blood. Both she and her sister seem to be drowning in guilt in regard to the apparent crime that took place in 1987.

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