[Coronavirus] Charity gets unexpected cash donation from Shincheonji sect

By Lim Chang-won Posted : March 5, 2020, 15:10 Updated : March 5, 2020, 15:10

Lee Man-hee, the leader of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, holds up his thumb after holding a press conference on March 2. [Yonhap Photo]

SEOUL -- In an apparent bid to appease public anger, Shincheonji Church of Jesus has made a surprise cash donation of 12 billion won ($10 million) to a charity without prior consultations, saying the religious group would join a national campaign to contain a coronavirus epidemic.

The donation to Community Chest of Korea, the only government-sanctioned charity in South Korea, that supports various welfare centers and community projects, came three days after Shincheonji leader Lee Man-hee apologized for fueling the spread of COVID-19 and vowed to do his best to help South Korea ride out the health crisis.

Shincheonji became the target of public fury since a 61-year-old follower was guaranteed on February 17 after attending services at its branch in the southeastern city of Daegu. Some 60 percent of confirmed cases were, directly and indirectly, related to the religious group.

Shincheonji has transferred its money to a bank account opened by the charity with no prior consultation. The group has 12 branches under its wing. Each branch has separate finances with a large portion of financial income coming through donations from 310,000 followers.
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