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Korean Christian cult demands ban on critical Netflix drama

Baby Garden founder was convicted of crimes including tax evasion and embezzlement in 1998, reports say
Baby Garden church founder Kim Ki-soon (center) is seen in this file photo. She is among four religious cult leaders in South Korea featuring in a Netflix drama series on their controversial activities

Baby Garden church founder Kim Ki-soon (center) is seen in this file photo. She is among four religious cult leaders in South Korea featuring in a Netflix drama series on their controversial activities. (Photo: allkpop.com)

Published: March 14, 2023 10:30 AM GMT
Updated: March 14, 2023 10:43 AM GMT

A South Korea-based Christian cult that came under criticism after a Netflix drama exposed the alleged dark sides of the cults and their leaders filed a court case seeking suspension of the streaming, says a report.

The cult, Baby Garden Church, filed an injunction against the streaming of two episodes of Netflix’s documentary series “In the Name of God: A Holy Betrayal,” featuring its leader Kim Ki-soon, the Korean Herald reported on March 14.

The eight-episode series presents four Korean religious cult leaders – Jeong Myeong-seok of Christian Gospel Mission, better known as Jesus Morning Star (JMS); Park Soon-ja of Odaeyang Church; Kim Ki-soon of Baby Garden Church; and Lee Jae-rock of Manmin Central Church. The cult leaders had claimed themselves to be “messiahs” or saviors of humanity.

Produced under Netflix's true crime series the series reportedly show controversial and illegal activities of cult leaders including fraud and sexual exploitation.

Netflix confirmed Baby Garden’s request with Seoul Central District Court.

Local media reports say the plea was filed on March 8 and Netflix was informed on March 13.

“As the court reviews the injunction filed by the religious cult, please understand that we do not have any additional information to offer with regards to the case,” a Netflix official said, the Korean Herald reported.

Baby Garden filed for the injunction claiming that the fifth and sixth episodes of the documentary titled “The Baby Garden, On the Way to the Heaven” and “The Baby Garden of Death,” were fictional and misleading.

In the petition, the cult said that either Netflix should stop broadcasting or must pay a compensation of 10 million won (US$7,672) per day.

Baby Garden is the second cult group, following JMS, featured in the Netflix documentary to have filed for an injunction since the release of the series on March 3.

A court in Seoul rejected JMS’s plea and ruled that the series does not include false claims and is backed by “a considerable amount of objective and subjective data.

In 2001, Baby Garden was successful in getting a court order against the airing of “Unanswered Questions” – an investigative series by leading Korean broadcaster SBS.

As the broadcaster planned the series in 1988, the Supreme Court found the cult’s leader Kim Ki-soon not guilty of murder charges.

However, she was found guilty of six charges, including tax evasion, embezzlement, and assault, and was sentenced to four years in prison and a fine of 5.6 billion won (US$ 4.3 million), allkpop.com reported. She was later acquitted and released on bail.

During a press conference on March 10, the series director Jo Sung-hyun said it is unlikely the court will accept the request.

“There is a small possibility that the episodes about Baby Garden may be banned, as the religious cult had stopped SBS’ broadcast in the past. I hope many people watch those episodes to see how cruel and scary religious cults can become,” Jo Sung-hyun said.

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