How Korean Religious Cults Approach People On The Streets & Tips To Avoid Them

You're aware of precautions you should take against scammers and thieves when travelling, but are you aware of these religious cult members?

Jihyun Lee
3 years ago

Religious cult members in Korea

Today, we will take a look at religious cults in Korea, who are listed number 1 on the must-avoid list when walking along the streets of the city.

There are various cults in Korea, including the Daesun Jinrihoe and Shincheonji. 

They are known to engage in various recruitment work on the streets to increase more believers that eventually bring in more money to the church.

These days, their targets are not only limited to Koreans but also foreigners.

So today, we are going to tell you more about how you can stay aware and tips to avoid them.

Approach Methods

First, let's look at how the members of the religious cults approach people on the streets.

1. "Do you have religious knowledge?"

Korean religious people approaching strangers on the streetsSource: The Fact

Approaching strangers on the streets and asking, "Do you have religious knowledge?" (도를 아십니까?) is a classic street approach method within religious cults.

'Knowledge' (도) in this case refers to a religious awakening. 

In the mid to late 1990s, there were many members that would approach strangers on the streets with this line.

It wasn't long before this question became very well known nationwide.

These days, there are very few religious members that approach strangers with this question.

However, since this line became so famous, people who engage in street acts are often referred to as "Knowledge-believer" (도믿맨).

2. Asking for directions

Korean man with map asking stranger for directions on the streets

A very common method of approaching strangers is to strike up a conversation by asking for directions.

Usually, these members ask for directions to a very easy location, such as being around Gangnam Station and asking where the station is.

Of course, there may be some people that are very bad with directions and need extra help, but it is strange for people to ask for direction when most just look it up on their phones.

In this situation, if you kindly show them the way, they will try to change the topic of conversation to start their work.

3. Questionnaire 

Girl filling out a questionnaire on a white sofa

If one or two people on the street hand you a questionnaire to fill out, there is a high possibility that it is related to religion.

The actual content of the questionnaire is usually very sloppy and they ask for personal information as well.

In a normal survey, they only ask for personal information about age, gender, and occupation, but in the case of religious surveys, they ask for your name, address, and phone number.

It's important to catch on quickly because it would be horrifying to go home and have the members trying to contact you on your phone, right?

4. Psychological test

Korean religious members asking people to fill out a psychological test on a benchSource: insight

There are many incidences where members approach strangers by saying they will do a fun psychological test.

After finishing the test, they will intentionally analyze your results in a negative way.

This is their way of trying to induce anxiety and surreptitiously suggest psychological treatment. 

5. Comments on your aura & facial expression

Korean man and woman on the street

When a stranger approaches you on the streets with comments about your facial expression such as "Your aura looks good!", "You look blessed", "You look anxious", it is 100% a religious cult.

They will use both positive and negative personal remarks to manipulate your emotions, making you more suspectible to their cult agenda.

6. Fake street casting offer

Korean models on stage

Source: goodnews1

This method is usually used on young women. 

They approach tall, slim young women and ask if they would be interested in careers such as modeling and cheerleading.

At first, they will act like a real agency that casts models and cheerleaders, but they naturally change the conversation to start their recruitment work.

7. Fake being interested in the opposite gender

Guy asking for a girl's phone number on the streets in Korea

This method is used on the opposite sex by religious members who are attractive.

They would approach the opposite gender naturally and pretend to be interested in them.

They would form a close relationship and even go on a couple of dates.

Then, they would eventually start their work by talking about their church and trying to lure them in as well.

8. Fake work interview

Webtoon artist drawing on an iPad in Korea

In this method, the members would introduce themselves as aspiring novelists or webtoon writers.

They would ask for an interview regarding finding some inspiring material for their work.

At first, they would carry on the interview as normal, then they would start talking about their own religion.

It's important to note that actual academies and/or webtoon writers never ask strangers on the streets to participate in this kind of interview.

So if you get approached by one of these guys, it's most likely a religious member.

9. Speaking to foreign tourists about Korean culture

Korean traditional religious ritual

Recently, there have been many incidences of religious members approaching foreigners in tourist attractions or airports by pretending to speak to them about Korean culture.

Since tourists don't reside in Korea, it's hard to make them permanent members of their church.

Instead, they take them to their accommodations and make them perform religious rituals by telling them it's a Korean cultural experience.

They would then ask the foreigners to pay a fee after participating in their activities, and won't let them leave until they've paid the amount.

How To Avoid Religious Cults

Below are some useful tips on how to avoid unfortunate situations with religious cults.

1. Ignore

koreans ignoring religious missionary on the street Source: segye

If you happen to run into these religious members on the street, just simply ignore them and go about your day!

Their main goal is to approach people 1:1 on the streets and don't want to be exposed in public.

They already know that most people don't want to associate themselves with them because they have a bad reputation, and don't want to worsen their image.

So even if you ignore them completely, you don't have to worry about them getting upset or continuing to follow you on the streets.

2. Report to the police

Korean police sign

After you ignore them and reject them, and they continue to follow you, you can call the police.

Call 112 and report that you are being pressured by the religious cult members on the streets.

As I stated above, they don't want their image to worse in public so if you threaten them by saying you're going to call the police, they will back off.

So if you're really in trouble, you can report them to the police!

Korean drama about religious cult

Today, we learned about how you may be approached by religious cults and some tips on how to avoid them.

Previously they only targeted Koreans but nowadays even foreigners are subject to it, so it's always good to stay safe and aware!

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