Student has shared how she was “brainwashed” into becoming a member of a South Korean sect that ‘controlled her actions and saw as she went on campus.

Jess was from Manchester and was “vulnerable” having just lost her father. Two strangers from Shincheonji Church of Jesus approached Jess at the University of Salford, inviting them to have ‘coffee together with God’.

Although the initial meetings were just Bible study groups every week, Jess soon realized that the group had a way of controlling her vision and actions. 

According to BBC, she stated that she had become a “completely different person” while she was in the cult. She explained: “Controlling other people for me is truly out of character. So that’s how deep I got into brainwashing.”   

Jess, from Manchester, has revealed how she was 'brainwashed' into joining a South Korean cult who 'controlled what she did and who she saw' while at university

Jess of Manchester revealed that she was ‘brainwashed” into joining a South Korean sect while she was at university. They ‘controlled her actions and saw what she saw.

Jess was a former student of physiotherapy. She was then recruited by the University of Salford to join the Church.

Two strangers, whom she believed to be students approached her campus and offered her a “coffee with God”    

Jess said, “I had experienced a huge loss by suddenly losing my father and that made me vulnerable.”

I was asked by them, “Oh are you a Christian?” Then, every week we met for one-on-one Bible studies.

Shincheonji Church of Jesus, which translates as 'new heaven and new earth,' was established in 1984 and describes its founder Lee Man-Hee as the 'Promised Pastor'

Shincheonji Church of Jesus, which means ‘new Heaven and New Earth’, was founded 1984. The founder Lee Manhee is called the ‘Promised pastor’.

Jessi said she had no idea the pair were from the sect,  Shincheonji, explaining: ‘That is’ the biggest deception and the biggest manipulation.’

This translation means “new heaven, new earth” and was started in 1984. Lee, its founder, is known as the “Promised pastor”. 

Other Christian organizations have described him as either a false prophet, or a leader of a cult.

It is both apocalyptic in nature and also messianic.

Lee Manhee: An ‘immortal leader’ of a secrecy cult which allegedly bullies its members into silence 

Lee Man-Hee (pictured), whose cult has 74 churches in South Korea, is considered by 120,000 followers to be 'immortal' and even the second coming of Jesus Christ

Lee Manhee (pictured), who has 74 South Korean churches, is believed by over 120,000 followers as ‘immortal’ or even the second coming Jesus Christ.

  • Lee Man HeeHe is now aged 88 and the President of The United States. Shincheonji Church founderJesus, the Temple of The Tabernacle Of the Testimony.
  • The world’s Christian authorities have accused his group of being a secret sect. Infiltrate churches and “deceives”To recruit. 
  • Lee, whose culture has been South Korea has 74 churches220,000 of his followers consider him to have ‘.The immortal” and the Second comingJesus Christ. 
  • Although very little information is available about this cult it has been suggested that they are so rigid and obsessive with secrecy. Its members are forced to silence themselves
  • Lee’s critics accuse him of being a hypocrite self-promotionHis alleged sex with his wife Trip to Dubai in 2015to take photos of him and improve his reputation at home.  
  • Other religious leaders, often others of the same faith, claim that he’s a “religious prophet.”false prophet‘. 

This group is well-known for their aggressive and deceptive methods of proselytizing. 

According to Ji-il Tark, a South Korean professor at Busan Presbyterian University (South Korea), “Shincheonji believers believe Lee Man-hee has immortality and an eternal life.”

“To spread their belief they approach family and friends or sneak into other churches to tell them that they’re Shincheonji members. 

The student was soon enslaved by the church and described her experience as “absolute mind-control.”

The buddy system she used was to monitor new recruits. She explained: “To find out if someone’s full engagement or not and then always finding a way of drawing them in…just surveillance really.” 

Jess attended intensive Shincheonji classes in a room at the university as well as attending a temple, located at the time in a business park.

Jess said she was 'going through a massive loss of suddenly losing her father' when she was approached and recruited by the church

Jess stated that she was going through “a huge loss” after suddenly losing her father. She was then approached by the church and asked to be a part of their team.

She said: ‘I became a completely  different person. I was totally different. My attitude had changed and my motivation for studying was gone. 

‘All of my concentration was just on the activities of Shincheonji.’

Jess got so involved in the sect she decided to start recruiting other members. 

Jess’ university tutor Linda Hollingworth became concerned about her, explaining things felt off with the student.

She said: ‘You were sort of missing quite a lot of sessions  and not interacting and when I was asking your friends about where you were, they were saying they weren’t seeing you either. It felt strange.

Having been recruited into the ultra-secretive cult, Jess attended intensive Shincheonji classes in a room at the university as well as attending a temple

Jess was recruited to the ultra-secretive Shincheonji cult. She attended Shincheonji intensive classes in a university room and also visited a temple.

But just as Jess began having doubts about the church, Shincheonji hit the news at the start of the  pandemic.

It was discovered that the ultra secretive, ultra-religious cult could have been responsible for more than half of South Korea’s coronavirus infections in February 2020.

Initial COVID-19 outbreaks in Korea were centered around Daegu, after Patient 31, a Shincheonji member of 61 years old, infected others church members. This caused the epidemic to explode in Daegu. 

The disease quickly spread to Shincheonji members, and to thousands more. There was an outcry from the nation and, by February 22, 2020, nearly 1.3 million South Koreans had signed an online petition asking the Blue House to dissolve Shincheonji.

As the news hit the headlines across the world, Jess said: ‘That’s the first time I’d ever seen Shincheonji being labelled as a cult.

‘For a moment I just thought, “Woah wait a second, am I in a cult?”

But just as Jess began having doubts about the church, Shincheonji hit the news at the start of the pandemic (pictured, the cult leader)

Jess was beginning to have doubts about Jess’ faith in the church. Shincheonji, the head of the cult, made the headlines shortly after the outbreak. 

‘Because we were encouraged to not Google anything about Shincheonji which is something that we all followed.

“But I did my own research and was shocked at the company’s existence.”

Feeling shaken by her discoveries, Jess went to see tutor Linda and her story came out.

With her tutor’s help, she fled the city and deleted all of her contacts.

She said: ‘Even from leaving Manchester early that morning there was still that feeling  of fear and paranoia that someone was watching me. ‘

Jess studied remotely and went on to finish her degree, saying: ‘I feel like I’m definitely in a much better place and I’m able to confidently share my story with others and just raise awareness.’

Meanwhile Rod Dubrow-Marshall, professor of psychology at the University of Salford, said: ‘The group is of concern to people in the way it operates.  

“I am not saying everyone is affected equally. However, there are numerous instances when people have lost contact with family members or given up their jobs.

Feeling shaken by her discoveries, Jess went to see tutor Linda who helped her to flee Manchester and escape the cult

Jess felt shaken and went to Linda to get help. Linda was able to assist her in fleeing Manchester from the cult. 

According to the university, there are rules regarding how religions can interact with students. They also monitor it.

University of Salford stated that students should report any abuse, manipulation, or coercion they witness or are aware of.

Meanwhile Shincheonji denied it is a harmful cult and said it does not groom, control, brainwash or manipulate members.

They said that they are not secretive and can find their beliefs online. The name of the church is revealed to people when Bible studies start.

 It said members don’t have to devote huge amounts of time to the church and are not encouraged to neglect university.