South Korea accuses conservative pastor of violating coronavirus rules

South Korea accuses conservative pastor of violating coronavirus rules

South Korean officials on Sunday accused a Christian pastor of interfering with contact tracing and flouting isolation rules at this church, which has been linked to 240 coronavirus infections.

The country’s ministry of health said Sunday it has filed a complaint against Rev. Jun Kwang-hoon, pastor of the Sarang Jeil Church and an outspoken government critic, for attending a Saturday rally in violation of self-isolation rules, Reuters reported. The ministry also said Jun failed to provide a full list of its members for testing, which they said obstructed a medical investigation into the outbreak.

Although a ban on rallies in Seoul remains in effect, thousands of demonstrators protested against President Moon Jae-in’s administration on Saturday, celebrated as National Liberation in both North and South Korea.

Although South Korea was one of the most successful nations in controlling the spread of the virus, Moon said the most recent outbreak have been the hardest to stem since a major outbreak nearly six months. Officials traced the earlier outbreak to the Shincheonju Church of Jesus religious sect. Korean authoriteis arrested Lee Man-hee, the founder of the sect, on Aug. 1., charging him with withholding vital information from contact tracers.

Moon said such obstructions were an “unforgivable act that threatens public lives,” saying his government will take “stern and strong measures” against “some churches” in response, according to Reuters. South Korea reported 279 new cases of the virus on Sunday, an increase of more than 100 percent after reporitng 103 on Friday. The Seoul metropolitan area was the source of most of the new cases. A smaller cluster, comprising about 30 cases, has been linked to a Starbucks in the city of Paju.