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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pastor David Yonggi Cho Gets Suspended Prison Term for Embezzlement

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

SEOUL (ANS) -- A Seoul court on Thursday sentenced a pastor of one of the world's largest Christian churches to three years in prison with a five year probation and 5 billion won (US$4.67 million) in fines for embezzling large amounts of church funds.

Pastor David Yonggi Cho
(via Yonhap News Agency).

According to an article by the Yonhap News Agency, Pastor David Yonggi Cho, the founder and pastor emeritus of Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, was found guilty of causing some 13 billion won (US$12 million) worth of losses to the church.

A story in said Cho reflected on the situation during the first Sunday Service after a South Korean court found him guilty of breach of trust, corruption and tax evasion.

The 78-year-old disgraced megachurch pastor said that it was the hardest day of his 50 years of ministry when he heard the verdict on Thursday.

“Through this suffering, I've learned a homework. An individual shouldn't possess anything," Cho told his congregation at Yoido Full Gospel Church on Feb. 23, 2014. “Besides health, status, fame, authority, money... these are all matters that are outside the body and unworthy of any pursuit.”

In 2002 he instructed church officials to buy stocks privately owned by his eldest son, Cho Hee-jun, at prices four times higher than market value.

The elder Cho was also convicted of dodging 3.5 billion won in taxes in the process.

The Yonhap News Agency said the Seoul Central District Court also ordered the 78-year-old pastor to pay a fine of 5 billion won.

In the same ruling, the court handed down a prison term of three years to the junior Cho, the former CEO of the church-affiliated local daily newspaper Kookmin Ilbo, for colluding with his father in the embezzlement scheme.

Yonhap reported that an investigation into the Cho family was launched last year after a group of members belonging to the church filed a suit for breach of trust and tax evasion.

The church, which claims it has around 800,000 members, has often made headlines in the recent past over a series of internal feuds and various corruption allegations.

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Jeremy Reynalds is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter, He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. His newest book is "A Sheltered Life."

Additional details on "A Sheltered Life" are available at Reynalds lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds at

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