Sunday, August 26, 2012
There is a social group in Korea that goes by the name Mannam. I've been aproached by these people quite a few times in Korea, whether at an event or just randomly on the subway. In my experience, they have been young Korean girls with great English ability.
They give out flyers advertising their free classes for foreigners. They include a long list such as Korean lessons, Tae Kwon Do, cooking classes, dance classes, etc. All for free! It seems like such a great opportunity, especially for foreigners who come to Korea with few friends and want to meet more people.
I was aware of them for quite some time, but I could never commit myself to going to one of their classes. They seemed to far away, or I was just being lazy.
One of their members talked to me on the subway though, and even though I wasn't going to attend the class, she seemed really nice so we exchanged Kakaotalk IDs. (messaging program in korea so you dont have to give out phone numbers) She messaged me about the program but again I didn't really feel into it, so we just chatted occassionally. Then one day she told me she knew a Korean who lived in my area and wanted to become friends with me.
Again, I just exchanged Kakao Ids and talked with her a few weeks and she seemed really nice. So, one day we decided to finally meet and she said she wanted to take me to a music show. It would be at an open cafe and it would just be coffee and listening to live music. It seemed like a good opportunity to go and meet people, so I went.
The next day there was a post on Facebook from a fellow English teacher saying the group Mannam was a cult. I laughed. They were a volunteering group and they were so nice to me--certainly didn't fit any of my notions of a cult. So, I asked my friend, was Mannam part of any religious group? She told me no, that there were just bad rumours going around. Still, I felt uneasy. When there is smoke, there's fire. So, I did some researching of my own. Apparently Mannam was created by the leader of Shinchonji, a widely known cult Church here in Korea. I found a lot of bad information about the group online.
By this time I knew i'd never go to another event again, but I knew a lot of people that were still defending Mannam so I wanted some better information rather than "it doesn't feel right". I went to my church and asked. I was surprised to hear that members of the Shinchonji church had in the past gotten into our church, gained the trust of members, then started moving them over to their own church! I was told they'd become small group leaders or even pastors!
Mannam claims it is not part of Shinchonji church. I believe that some of the members truly believe that themselves. My opinion on the matter is that not all of the members are trying to trick us, but that fact that the core is bad will slowly leak out. If the foundation is bad, won't the house crumble? I personally cannot attend free classes if they are supported by someone who has such radically different beliefs than my own. I would feel like I was supporting that religion itself. There's also always the possibility that they use those classes to gain your trust, then slowly pull you into their church.
Below are some links to another man's personally journey and investigation including all the hard facts about Mannam.