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Crucifixion was 'perverted' act

Police say it was not impossible for taxi driver to nail himself to the cross

  • Stephen Hong, Seoul
  • Korea
  • May 11, 2011
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A theologian says the death of a crucified man, discovered recently, was a gruesome act of "perverted devotion" that distorted the true meaning of the cross.

The comment comes after police said yesterday they are almost certain the crucifixion was self-inflicted.

James Byun Jin-heung, theology professor at the Catholic University of Korea, said the incident distorted the true meaning of the Cross which holds a message of love, sacrifice and salvation.

The former secretary general of the Korean Conference on Religion and Peace said the act was an expression of "perverted devotion" and that the individual wanted to make a big show of his faith.

On May 1, a 56-year-old taxi driver known only as Kim was found crucified with his hands and feet nailed to a cross and with a wound in his side in Mungyeong, some 150 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

After re-enacting the crucifixion according to what were said to be Kim’s own written instructions, police said yesterday the man could have nailed his hands and feet to the wooden cross after having drilled holes in his own palms.

But police did not exclude the possibility of murder until after getting DNA test results.

Jesuit Father Dominic Woo Jae-myung, a moral theologian, said that whatever religious reasons are given, suicide goes against the Christian faith.

He crucified himself probably because he thought it was some kind of "martyrdom," Father Woo speculated, adding that "we must understand suicide is definitely different from martyrdom, which aims to defend faith."

Yim Sung-bihn, professor of Christian ethics at the Presbyterian College and Theological Seminary, said the crucifixion was a fanatical act which deviated from orthodox Christianity.

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