(Original article in Korean: 넷플릭스 ‘나는 신이다’ JMS 기독교복음선교회 편, 왜 나왔을까?)
During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the religious organization “S,” that caused the second wave of spread of COVID in South Korea, became an issue. As a result, national resistance to heretical religious groups exploded along with resistance to Christianity. On the internet, I Am Jesus, a parody of I Am a Singer, which was a composite of religious leaders calling themselves “the Second Coming Jesus,” was circulating.
Among them was Pastor Jung Myeong-seok (founder of Christian Gospel Mission, so-called JMS). Why is President Jung Myung-seok, who has lived the life of a “religious/faithful bride of Jesus,” being treated as a “self-proclaiming Second Coming Jesus”? Is it because human nature seeks stimulation? Instead of the Word of God that resolves life’s problems, or wholesome and touching stories, the propagating power of stimulating rumors and criticizing content is much more overpowering.
This time on Netflix, a documentary called In the Name of God: A Holy Betrayal was aired and spread secondary and tertiary content, once again infringing on President Jung Myung-seok and CGM members. Hold on. Here you can just press the “Back” button, saying “Oh, this article was written by a JMS believer” or “You are a cult, so you shouldn’t speak,” but I hope you can read this until the end.
That “perspective” is repeated again
Actually, as a result of checking the main content of the program, I found out that the logic, flow, and information used to attack CGM are the same as before. Mr. K, the key figure of the opposing force who appears directly in the program, has continued to slander CGM with the same narrative since 1999 through SBS’ I Want to Know, MBC’s True Story Expedition in 2020, and JTBC in 2022. In President Jung Myung-seok’s sermon video, he distorted the audio and subtitles from “evangelize one out of ten [yeol-ai-ha-na jeon-do]” to “evangelize one woman [yeo-ja-ha-na joen-do],” and he did not hesitate to use only a portion of an audio recording of President Jeong Myung-seok to make a religious consultation with a [church] member in need sound like a sex crime.
And in 2023, through Netflix’s In the Name of God, using OTT (over-the-top) platform characteristics that are not restricted by broadcasting law, without hesitation, President Myung-seok Jeong and the CGM are portrayed in a sexual and provocative way.
This program is promoted by various media outlets as being objectively and credibly produced. However, it meticulously interprets the path that President Jung Myung-seok walked through one person’s one-sided logic and narrative, which is Mr. K’s. This path, which started with the Word of God that saves lives, is a history that Mr. K has never been a part of. Based on the malicious claims of those who left CGM and the one-sided allegations of the opposition, the broadcast only tarnishes this history as a “history that sexually seduces female believers.” It was done to the extent that I thought it was childish. There was no mention of how God’s words had resolved people’s life issues or how it solved Biblical questions. Instead, Mr. K himself is portrayed as an “apostle of justice who seeks to rescue those who had been harmed by President Jung Myung-seok.”
Video claims and contents: is all of it true?
On February 17th, CGM filed an application for an injunction to ban the broadcast, but the Court rejected it. “For past cases, they have cross-checked various materials such as videos and photos, and the part related to the ongoing criminal trial is in line with the plaintiffs’ statements since they have met and conducted interviews with the plaintiffs, so it is difficult to see them as false,” the Court described.
In the film, Mr. K’s argument, the tearful statements of the accusers, and the presented video and audio recordings of the female believers make people speculate, “President Jung Myung-seok really committed these crimes.” The reenactments also emotionally trigger the general public and induce them to believe that “this really happened.”
But are these allegations and contents true? It is unclear from where these materials were gathered, and whether they were really produced at the site where President Jung Myung-seok had allegedly violated the female believers. In particular, the full version and context should be clearly given for recordings that are offensive and shocking for viewers. Among the statements of the accusers in the actual film, there were many things that could be proven to be absolute lies.
In the Name of God may end up as a source of stimulation and entertainment (or discomfort) for the public. However, CGM, which has been quietly preaching the gospel and spreading a sound view of faith, will be undermined, and the damage to its image and members will be severe.
Currently, President Jung Myung-seok is undergoing the first trial, and no decision has been made yet. The process from the prosecution of Ms. M in 2022 to the arrest and trial of President Myung-Seok Jeong was not easy from the standpoint of CGM’s opposition. Although I cannot reveal the specific trial process and the circumstances of the accusers here, there were sufficient grounds to prove that Ms. M’s claims were false. Meanwhile, the accumulated negative public opinion led to the arrest of President Jung Myung-seok. In the Name of God is the culmination of that. The accusers, including Mr. K, appear to be trying to agitate public opinion on a global scale through In the Name of God in order to lead the trial in their favor.
It is often argued that broadcasting should be fair. However, it is difficult to come up with such good broadcasts. This is because the broadcaster’s circumstances, characteristics, and financial logic have no choice but to come into play. In particular, fair broadcasts are no fun. In a reality where few people seek the Word of God, to have content encompassing CGM’s wholesome nature and image that differ from its opposition’s claims would be meaningless from the standpoint of OTT, which pursues profit. In order to make content that sells well to the public, there is no choice but to compose content that is stimulating and R-rated.
In the Name of God is a concoction of CGM opposers who cause trouble for CGM and try to justify themselves by any means beyond logic, Netflix’s pursuit of profit, broadcast producers’ desire to succeed through an OTT platform, and the general attack of Christianity which condemns CGM as heretical. Anyone who consumes content should keep in mind that there will be a certain number of hidden agendas.
[Writing | G. jams ]
* This blog collects organized material on the main issues appearing in Netflix’s In the Name of God.
Some of them can be fully explained, but some have not been made into content due to the safety of CGM members.