Following DKZ member Kyoungyoon (and his parents) giving an emotional interview to Dispatch about his ties with the JMS cult, it seemed inevitable that people were going to investigate and/or nitpick what he said.
One error was caught immediately by netizens, who brought up that Kyoungyoon’s recollection of meeting Jung Myung Seok at Wolmyeong-dong was impossible.
Dispatch: JMS was on the run in 2000 when you were born. He was arrested in 2008, when you were 8, and released from prison in 2018, when you were 18. How come you still believed in JMS?
OP: Dispatch detailed the timeline of JMS’s arrest later in the interview like this. JMS was in prison between 2008 to 2018 while Kyoungyoon entered elementary school and moved on to high school. This means there is no way Kyoungyoon could’ve seen JMS in person in Wolmyeong-dong when he was in elementary school. This contradicts Kyoungyoon’s statement that he saw JMS playing soccer three to four times.
Another Article: Back in 1999, Jung Myung Seok faced some speculations of sexually exploiting his followers. He was overseas for a decade, doing evangelical work. In 2008, he was arrested in China then sent to Korea for sexual assault, rape, and harassment charges. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was released in February 2018. Four years later, he was arrested again for raping a follower in 2022.
OP: Other articles on JMS also confirm that he was imprisoned between 2008 to 2018. So it is simply impossible for Kyoungyoon to have seen JMS in person during his childhood and teenage days. Had he actually seen JMS in person, it would’ve been in his adulthood.
That seemed like a fair point to raise, and it was confirmed later as a “confusion” when Dispatch themselves contacted Kyoungyoon again about the discrepancy and published his clarification.
We checked back with Kyoungyoon regarding his memories from Wolmyeong-dong. When we told him that ‘JMS was on the run while he was in elementary school,’ Kyoungyoon tried recalling his memories again.
Kyoungyoon guessed that the man he recognized as JMS might have been JMS’s younger brother, Jung Bum Seok. He also said that, while he said ‘in elementary school’ specifically, he meant more in the sense of ‘when he was young.’
He also clarified his account on having seen JMS play sports. He commented, ‘I think I must have confused Jung Bum Seok who I saw at Wolmyeong-dong with JMS who I saw in the videos’ and asked for the readers’ understanding for the confusion.
Kyoungyoon said that the last time he was in Wolmyeong-dong was in 2018 when there was a big event celebrating JMS’s release from prison. He confirmed once more that he has never been to a JMS-affiliated event after he debuted as a K-Pop idol.
While apologizing for the errors in his memories, Kyoungyoon said that it has been such a long time and that he got confused. Kyoungyoon assured the readers that he still stands by what he said about regretting his past in association with JMS’s cult, reflecting on his actions, and promising to leave the Providence Church for good.
The choice of coming forward through Dispatch and the outlet acting like a legal team with regards to this is something interesting to note as well.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only thing netizens brought up, as they mentioned that Kyoungyoon claimed he got singing lessons from the cult due to financial hardship, but as an idol he was marketed as rich.
OP: I think people could read his interview and think that he received help from JMS’s cult because he was not well off. (Keep in mind that, as a 00-liner, he was in ninth grade in 2015. His mom opened the cafe in 2020.) But while promoting with DKZ, he was branded as “The Rich Farmer’s Son” and “Heir of Youngdeok.” He, too, would talk about his parents’ orchard, farm, and private mushroom-growing mountain as his “selling point.”
Screenshot: [Kyoungyoon’s] parents own an orchard so the members at the dorm receive fruit often. (Rich in fruits.) His parents also own a mushroom-growing mountain and a dairy farm in Youngdeok. His mother runs a cafe near Youngdeok Market. So DKZ members sometimes poke fun at how “he doesn’t need to work but is promoting as an idol for funsies.” (The rich farmer’s son.)
Videos resurfaced as well, with netizens pointing out that Kyoungyoon doesn’t deny the titles.
It’s definitely possible these are just innocent oversights, but given that his management’s initial statement on the matter was effectively a lie in an attempt to distance himself from knowledge about the cult, and that this was supposed to be his coming clean moment, it’s not gonna play well with the public if there are discrepancies in the narrative.
Of course, it’s important to remember that he’s a victim of the cult, regardless of whether he still holds ties to it or whether this was the whole truth or not. However, his status with the cult matters in relation to his job as an idol, as the impact to his image and DKZ is relevant to whether he’s able to or even should continue on or not.