Thousands of people gathered at a heavily guarded religious compound Sunday to attend the private funeral of the late business shipping tycoon blamed for April's ferry disaster.
More than 3,000 family members and followers of the Evangelical Baptist Church streamed in to the sprawling compound owned by the Christian sect in Anseong, about 80 kilometers south of Seoul, for the two-day funeral service of Yoo Byung-eun.
Yoo -- the co-founder of the sect and an ex-convict -- was found dead on a remote mountain in southern South Korea in June, two months after he was put on a wanted list in connection with the April 16 sinking of the Sewol that left more than 300 people, mostly high school students, dead or missing.
The official schedule for Yoo's funeral began at 10 a.m.
Saturday, with his immediate family members, including those who have been temporarily released from prison for the funeral, greeting mourners at an auditorium inside the compound.
The religious group, also known as the Salvation Sect, is set to wrap up the funeral later Sunday and bury his body at a hill overlooking the compound.
The service was closed to outsiders and the media, as the church followers guarded the front gate of the church retreat.
Four family members -- his eldest son, wife, younger brother and brother-in-law -- were arrested on various corruption charges that officials said had contributed to the disaster and the high death toll. They were temporarily released from jail to attend the funeral.
Police said they have dispatched nearly 90 officers for close-distance surveillance of the four family members. Authorities have also dispatched some 400 guards to oversee the religious compound in case of an emergency situation. (Yonhap)