Phone Interview with Lee Tae-Jong, Aired on June 9 (Channel A, Straight and Direct Talk)
Anchor: Then let us listen to what the Salvation Sect has to say with regards to the reason why they have put up such banners. Mr. Lee Tae-Jong, the temporary spokesperson of the Salvation Sect, the Evangelical Laymen's Church, is connected on the phone. Mr. Lee, are you with us?
Lee: Yes, hi there.
Anchor: You have written, “Bloody Nonsense” on the banner. Whose idea was this?
Lee: The night before last, we had a discussion with 20 to 30 people, and I believe that it was someone’s suggestion that people agreed on for the use.
Anchor: So you have a discussion group of about 20 to 30 people?
Lee: Yes, we’ve been meeting daily.
Anchor: Now, there are 3-4 banner phrases, which attracted a lot of media attention. Are those banner ideas generated from those meetings too?
Lee: Yes, many of us come up from different regions and the members frequently change, but we hold meetings every day with twenty to as many as fifty members, to have thorough discussions regarding the issues of the day.
Anchor: Do you mean that, such an idea of putting up the banner, “Bloody Nonsense” was considered suitable as an outcome of your discussions?
Lee: Yes, that’s right.
Anchor: Then, what nonsense have they made?
Lee: First is about the break of the promise Prosecutor Choi Jae-Kyung had made while negotiating with the Evangelical Baptist Church members--it is a complaint about breaking the promise that they ‘would no longer carry out investigations of the church’. Secondly, there are many things that are far from the truth in what they say when arresting our church members and others, and the banner phrase means to say that the contents of media reports so far are largely very different from the truth.
Anchor: You mean there are too many things that are different from the truth? But, yesterday you talked about lands. Shouldn’t any Korean citizen, suspected of a crime, be investigated whether or not he/she is a church member? But you mean the prosecutor has promised that they would not investigate the church?
Lee: Yes, as far as I am aware.
Anchor: Okay then, earlier you mentioned that they differ from the truth. Please tell us what is farthest from the truth.
LTJ: First of all, one of the things I have been investigating is regarding the report that the Yoo family’s properties sum up to 240 billion won (~$240 million). I have now figured that most of this comprises lands. I looked at the list of lands but the name Yoo Byung-Eun was nowhere to be seen and not many of his family members were found amongst the members of the association. Then how could they argue that the Yoo family has 240-billion-won worth an asset all under other names? The media seems to have never raised a question about this either.
Anchor: No, we, Channel A, have reported that the assets are under other names and covered their relationships with Mr. Yoo. Maybe you've missed that part?
Lee: No, I did see that. But primarily the prosecutor has not revealed any details, and I have only received the list of the Agricultural Union members today. I could discuss regarding each one of these members and how they are listed on behalf.
Anchor: We will make an opportunity for that, so please join our Straight and Direct Talk next time when you have time. It would be helpful to go through this aspect.
Lee: Alright. Well, I had planned to attend last time, but you delayed it; maybe you felt uncomfortable.
Anchor: No, we never did. Anyway, if it suits you, Mr. Lee, we can hold the session tomorrow right away.
Lee: Last time, Ms. Lee Young-Ae was on your show and spread false information, and when we disclosed that we were taking legal actions to sue, you requested that I postpone my appearance. You also falsely broadcast that I was charged two million won after losing a trial, but in fact, I’ve never even stood in a court.
Anchor: Okay, is that right? We will check this and prepare another session for discussion.
Lee: Whenever Mr. Jeong Dong-Seob or Ms. Lee Young-Ae are due to come, I am more than happy to join and discuss.
Anchor: Yes, that is a good idea. Yesterday, the spokesperson Cho Gye-Woong claimed that the rumor of asylum is a false report. Did you try to call all embassies then?
Lee: We have contacted all hundred-some embassies in Korea; those that responded to us said that this was not at all true. For those that we did not hear back from, it is difficult for us to check.
Anchor: When we, Channel A, called a certain embassy, they informed us of an asylum request, so we wrote our report based on that, in which case this would not be a false report.
Lee: Where was that? We would quite like to check ourselves.
Anchor: We can tell you privately where it was, but what I wanted to say is that we write our reports after checking. And I wonder if you could still call them false reports when you have not heard back from the embassies, as you mentioned earlier.
Lee: We have contacted all those embassies being mentioned and have certainly had a phone conversation with the French embassy, which clearly expressed that there was no contact.
Anchor: There was no contact? No contact from Mr. Yoo Byung-Eun? Is that what they said?
Lee: Yes. My English is poor, so I asked a fluent English speaker to make a phone call with them, and confirmed that there was no evidence of such.
Anchor: Right, I see. Now, the media noted that you have been alternating with Spokesman Cho Gye-Woong at your press conferences, and because the former spokesman appeared, people suspected that spokesman Lee Tae-Jong has resigned. Why did you switch?
Lee: Firstly, I am the spokesperson of the Evangelical Laymen's Church (Korean Laymen's Evangelical Fellowship), whereas Mr. Cho Gye-Woong is the spokesperson of the Evangelical Baptist Church. It would help if you understood our story, but first, the Evangelical Baptist Church tends to favor Reverent Kwon’s sermons. They tend to share religious beliefs, while the ELC (KLEF) shares not only religious aspects but also connects these with modes of living. For example, they share the same workplace or career.
Anchor: So you are not divided into hard-liners and soft-liners, are you?
Lee: No. It may seem as though that is the tendency, but people from the ELC (KLEF) share their living modalities and have therefore been more severely affected in their daily living. Taking into account their situation, you may understand that they can be tougher and more extreme.
Anchor: Then may I ask you one thing? Say that the 50-some people mentioned earlier have been made aware that a certain church member has received a call from Mr. Yoo and learned where he is currently staying. Would you then reveal this to the prosecutors?
Lee: If it were me, I wouldn’t. First, we consider ourselves brothers and sisters, like our family members. I wouldn’t like to think that one would take 500 million won (~$500K) for the price of his or her own family member. I believe that others, too, share the same thought.
Anchor: Then do you mean, Mr. Lee, that you would never reveal where Mr. Yoo Byung-Eun is even if you were aware, like you said earlier?
They are in search for the man for breaking the law--surely it would be in keeping with the constitutional law to reveal?
Lee: I wouldn’t be breaking the law. Even if I knew, I would have the freedom to support the person under the constitution. Yet if I helped him against the law, I would need to be punished. However, I believe that I have the right of freedom, to know, not help, and to keep silent.
Anchor: Yes, I understand. We have listened from Mr. Lee Tae-Jong so far. If you would like to come and discuss as you mentioned earlier, we will prepare a session even for tomorrow.
Lee: Yes, I'd be more than happy to do so anytime when Mr. Jeong Dong-Seob and Ms. Lee Young-Ae would come.
Anchor: If it weren’t for those two, would you not be happy to come for a discussion?
Lee: Even for others, depending on who they are, I will have to review it then.
Anchor: Thank you. It was Mr. Lee Tae-Jong.
Lee: Thank you.