Controversial Seoul church ordered to close for breaking COVID-19 rules

SEOUL-- A Seoul church led by a controversial right-wing pastor was ordered Thursday to shut down for repeatedly holding in-person worship services in violation of COVID-19 rules.

The office of Seongbuk Ward said it delivered an official notice of closure to Sarang Jeil Church in northern Seoul in the afternoon.

The church, led by the provocative right-wing pastor Jun Kwang-hoon, has held in-person Sunday services for five straight weeks since July 18, violating the Level 4 social distancing rules imposed in the greater Seoul area to rein in the fourth wave of the pandemic.

Until the government amended the Level 4 rules to allow on-site worship sessions at 10 percent capacity or with fewer than 100 attendees last Monday, all religious ceremonies had to be held virtually.

The ward office has suspended Sarang Jeil Church's activities and imposed fines for breaking COVID-19 rules, but the church refused to comply with the directives.

On Sunday, more than 800 people gathered at the church to attend an in-person service in violation of the suspension order.

Under the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act, local authorities can shut down religious facilities that refuse to follow suspension orders imposed for breaching antivirus guidelines.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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