Los Angeles Protest Calls on South Korean Government to Protect Human Rights

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Human Rights Association for Victims of Coercive Conversion Programs (HAC) demonstrators in 30 countries worldwide rally for a ban on religious Coercive Conversion Programs.

HAC demonstrators outside the LA Coliseum

South Korea is renowned in the international community as a country that upholds religious freedom. This is why we plead to the law enforcement and lawmakers that these programs be put to an end.

As Pyeongchang prepares for the Olympics “Peace Games” closing ceremony, 1,500 protesters rallied at the Los Angeles Coliseum calling on the South Korean government to investigate religious leaders involved in programs called, “Coercive Conversion,” that led to the death of a young woman.

The rally is a part of an international wave of protests held in 30 locations including South Africa, France, Zimbabwe, the Philippines, Washington D.C.and San Francisco. The movement, initiated in Gwanghwamoon and Gwangju of South Korea, has gathered over 200,000 participants.

The young woman, Gu Ji-In of South Korea, 25, died on January 9, 2018 of cardiopulmonary arrest. Her parents, who are under investigation for her death, collaborated with Christian pastors to enroll her in the controversial program that is gaining traction amongst South Korean Christian organizations.

These programs attempt to forcefully change an individual’s belief through psychological intimidation and slander, involving verbal and physical abuse. Conversion program leaders go as far as traveling to the U.S. to induce fear in family members by persuading them that their child, spouse or relative believes in an incorrect faith, with the assurance that the program will “convert” him or her back to the Christian faith.

Though prominent in South Korea, these programs are directly promoted in Southern California by major Christian churches, many of which have publicly supported these programs by linking them on their front page websites.

“We are first pleading to South Korean law enforcement to investigate the Christian leaders behind these programs and secondly, asking that the lawmakers create a law that will ban these programs once and for all,” said Steven Acosta, 32, a volunteer of Human Rights Association for Victims of Coercive Conversion (HAC).

Before her death, Ms. Gu also petitioned to the South Korean Government writing a letter to the President of the Republic of Korea, urging a, “closure on the conversion program, legal punishment to pastors who carry out forced conversion, and establishment of a law banning religious discrimination.” She received no response.

Currently, over 1,287 victims of coercive conversion have been accounted for, and the number only continues to grow – even across the world.

“South Korea is renowned in the international community as a country that upholds religious freedom. This is why we plead to the law enforcement and lawmakers that these programs be put to an end,” said Acosta.

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Human Rights Assoc. for Victims of Coercive Conversion Programs (HAC)

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