Speed Reads


Owners of sunken South Korean ferry linked to mass cult suicide


South Korea continues to reel from the sinking of the Sewol ferry in mid-April, which resulted in the deaths of at least 273 people, the majority of whom were children. The family that owns the ferry operator, Chonghaejin Marine, has come under intense scrutiny, including patriarch Yoo Byung Eun, who has an interesting history. In the 1990s, Yoo was investigated in connection with the 1987 mass suicide of 32 members of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Korea, a cult that Yoo helped lead.

Yoo, who also spent four years in prison in the 1990s for fraud, denies any involvement with Chonghaejin, saying the company is controlled by his sons. But according to The New York Times, "Investigators said they were looking into whether Mr. Yoo was controlling the ferry company through his children, as well as allegations that his family has been using Chonghaejin and other companies as tools to raise illegal funds."

Yoo is also a successful photographer who once held an exhibition at the Louvre. Read a full profile of the man here.