Christian sect to hold funeral of late ferry owner next week

By 옥현주
  • Published : Aug 22, 2014 - 12:18
  • Updated : Aug 22, 2014 - 12:18

A Christian cult co-founded by Yoo Byung-eun, the late shipping tycoon blamed for April's ferry disaster, said Friday it is planning to hold his funeral next week following the anti-climactic discovery of his body two months ago.

In June, the body of Yoo, a 73-year-old billionaire who practically owned the operator of the sunken ferry Sewol, was found in a plum field just outside Suncheon, about 450 kilometers south of Seoul, amid a nationwide manhunt that went on for months since the April 16 tragedy.

Yoo is widely believed to have contributed to the ferry disaster by failing to abide by safety measures, which risked passengers' lives.

The 6,825-ton ferry Sewol sank off the country's southwest coast on April 16, leaving 294 people dead, mostly high school students on a school excursion. As of Friday, 10 people remain unaccounted for.

Lee Tae-jong, the spokesman for the Evangelical Baptist Church, also known as the Salvation Sect, said the exact date of Yoo's funeral is yet to be determined, though it will likely be next Saturday.

"We've narrowed it down to between Friday, Saturday and Sunday of next week, but Saturday is most likely because it's when most of our faithful come here," Lee said in a phone interview with Yonhap News Agency from Geumsuwon, a religious compound in Anseong, about 80 kilometers south of Seoul.

The funeral will be held at the compound, though it is unclear for how long. The funeral of Kwon Shin-chan, the other co-founder of the Christian sect and the father-in-law of Yoo, lasted a day in 1996 in the same location, the spokesman said.

Officials at the Anseong city government said a few Salvation believers stopped by at their office recently to ask about the procedure on building a grave for Yoo in the compound, but have yet to file the necessary paperwork for registration.

Police are scheduled to hand over the custody of Yoo's body to his family this weekend, but the church says his body will remain outside Geumsuwon until just before the funeral, as it does not have a morgue of its own. (Yonhap)