Religious cults have always been a problem in a modern society. The founders and so-called “fathers” try to recruit as many people as possible to gain some profit from the potential members and make them work for the sake of the cult. The parishioners of these communities are mostly people who can be easily influenced and manipulated such as the elderly, students, and, of course, foreigners.
The recruiters, who seem to be exceptionally kind and friendly, look for naïve foreigners in crowded areas such as Hongdae and Sinchon stations. Moreover, they would approach a non-Korean speaking foreigner and start a conversation very casually, first asking questions about their name/age/school and then slightly moving on to questions regarding religions and faith. At this moment, most of the foreigners try to gently finish the conversation and go away.
However, then the cult members would suggest free Korean language courses and cultural exchange programs. Due to their unawareness, international students and tourists would agree to visit the meeting place of the community. The same thing happened to some people I know, who were not aware of such religious cults here and ended up following these strangers. The girls were brought into a small church and asked to pay a certain amount of money for their participation. When they refused and tried to leave, parishioners there put them in a room and did not let them go until they gave the money.
My best friend is continuously being approached by cult members almost every week. That is why she pretends like she does not understand them at all, and acts as if she has neither a kakao talk account nor a phone number.
Surprisingly, these cults are more dangerous than you may think: the members would make several appointments and meetings with their target in order to find out some weaknesses and details of the target’s life. In addition, they would pretend like they are the only ones you may ask help from in an unknown, for you, country.
There are so many of these weird people, that even some famous Youtube bloggers were approached by them during live streams or recordings. For example, one guy, who is a Korean prankster, saw foreigners talking to two young ladies and following them. At first, he was just quietly walking aside and listening to their dialogue. When the prankster realized that the ladies were going to bring some guys to a church, he got very angry and warned the tourists, telling them not to leave with the cult members. When the YouTuber followed the ladies the same way they did before, they tried to escape from him and blocked the camera.
Actually, I have asked some of my friends about such cults in Korea and from what I’ve heard so far, it seemed like girls with so-called “baby faces” are being followed the most. The reason for this is that the recruiters think those women are too polite and nice to reject the offer, more likely to listen to them carefully.
In conclusion, I would give a piece of advice and instructions on how to avoid these cult members. Firstly, when you realize a person asks questions regarding your religion, pretend as if you don’t understand neither Korean nor English. Secondly, suddenly start speaking any other languages, even your native one. Third, never give any personal information or contacts. Instead, just leave and never turn back. Following these steps, you will save your time and nerves!