Moon warns of stern responses to church members’ illegal acts against anti-virus efforts

SEOUL, President Moon Jae-in on Sunday warned of stern responses to unlawful acts by some church members that have hampered the country’s anti-virus efforts, after a far-right pastor and his followers staged massive rallies in violation of a state ban amid a surge in new coronavirus cases.

On Saturday, more than 10,000 people went ahead with the anti-government protests in downtown Seoul, which were led by far-right groups, including pastor Jun Kwang-hoon of SarangJeil Church in Seoul, though the city government banned large gatherings out of COVID-19 concerns.

Dozens of coronavirus patients were believed to have been connected to Jun’s church, but it rather encouraged its believers across the country to take part in the demonstrations while failing to take appropriate quarantine measures, according to officials.

“It is a very senseless act that hampers efforts of the whole people to contain the spread of the new coronavirus. It is a clear challenge to the national disease control and prevention system, and an unforgivable act that threatens the lives of the people,” Moon said in his Facebook message.

The government will take “very stern and strong measures even by resorting to compulsory means,” Moon added.

On Sunday, South Korea reported 279 additional COVID-19 cases, a surge from 166 new cases the previous day, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). It is the first time that the country reported more than 200 new daily infections in five months.

Cases linked to the SarangJeil Church totaled 193 nationwide as of Sunday, according to the Seoul metropolitan government.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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