Another nightmare

Another story of children whose parents think they are witches, sent to me by Leo Igwe.

Seoul (CNN) — A pastor and his wife are in custody accused of killing three of their children by starving them to ward off evil spirits, police in South Korea said Wednesday.

The couple told police the children — aged nine, seven and three — had been ill, which they believed was a sign they were invaded by evil spirits after eating too much on Lunar New Year.

They then cut the children’s hair to chase the spirits out and starved them from January 24 until February 2, only allowing them to drink water. Local media reports said the parents had beaten the children with a belt and a fly swatter numerous times.

The pastor, named only by his surname Park, and his wife, Cho, told police they tied the children’s arms and legs with stockings. All three died on February 2, the first around 2am, the second at 5am and the third at 7am…

The horror of it.


  1. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    The mind boggles, the stomach churns.

    I’d ask how supposedly loving parents can do this shit but I already know the answer. Their god told them.

  2. evilDoug says

    I echo ‘Tis’s comments.

    It strikes me as quite strange that all three of the kids died within the span of five hours. I suspect something more sinistre than a little over a week without food and having their arms and legs tied.
    Given the praying in hopes of resurrection, I wonder if perhaps the kids were killed deliberately, so that all bad spirits would leave them, and the good ones would be brought back.

  3. says

    I can’t help wondering what psychologically is behind this. I have a certain limited experience of traditional far-eastern beliefs systems. Most people have various animistic beliefs and believe there are spirits around the place, but think they can’t do much about them. The spirits can inhabit people, for instance Daoists recommend not eating meat, especially on certain days, in case the spirits of the animal are absorbed. However even then the spirit doesn’t have much effect, it might make someone a little more grumpy or something like that. On the whole not a lot of harm is done. However when this gets mixed up with Christianity, which has spirits that are not just evil, but immeasurably so, all bets are off.

  4. davidct says

    How does one distinguish “faith” from mental illness? Religion glorifies the mindset of rejecting reason but never takes credit for a horrific event like this. This is not something foreign. A mother did this to her daughter in Maine a few years ago.

  5. Tony says

    Those poor children died from their parents’ belief in superstitious nonsense, yet secularism is going to bring about the downfall of society?

  6. says

    This kind of thing is going to get a lot worse before it gets any better, I’m afraid. This is what happens, I think, when people’s religious beliefs are under threat, and when they cannot believe them without dissonance. Their nisus towards belief is then intensified and, at the same time, trivialised, because religious faith is, after all, little more than childhood beliefs in invisible friends and undefined threats. So, as people’s faith is threatened, they simply intensify the expression of their beliefs, and when you intensify childish beliefs in adulthood you get bizarre, not to say completely insance behaviour. That children are at the centre of so much crumbling faith is not surprising, since religious adults are likely to see childhood dysfunction in terms of religious categories of sin and disobedience. What a completely distressing story. It is interesting that so much of this kind of thing is happening in the “third” world or in the US, where life is, after all, very uncertain and insecure for so many. Pity the poor children caught in the vice between religious fundamentalism and uncertain commitment.

  7. mirax says

    # Bernard Hurley,

    I am very familiar with chinese concepts of the evil spirits and have neighbors who are forever offering the spirits food and drink to appease them . They also have a strong belief in ritual possession by both good and evil spirits.But that’s as far as the superstitions go. I have never, ever heard or read about chinese or other fareastern buddhist parents beating the evil spirits out of children. Not once. They may dress up their boys as girls to confuse malevolent spirits but they dont actually seem to believe that children can get possessed by evil spirits and need to be exorcised. It takes something as screwed up as the semitics religions – based on child sacrifice after all- to make parents murder their own kids.

    South Korea is the craziest, kookiest,most fundamentalist christian nation in Asia.I have read christian tracts from that country and it is real scary the stuff they believe in. Koreans seem to have a capacity for being easily enthralled by weirdos. I think that the old pragmatic blend of buddhism, daoism and confucianism actually is a lot more humane and sane than christianity. I really really hope that people in China do not take to the fuckedup mess that is xtianity.

  8. mirax says

    There was a recent case here in Singapore of a few teenage boys trying to kill themselves – sadly one succeeded- due to their beliefs in evil spirits. They were, rather altruistically and heroically, trying to pend off global catastrophe by sacrificing their lives. I cant be sure that only religion was to blame for that tragic and mistaken notion. Video game roleplaying?

  9. ash says

    from davidct

    “How does one distinguish “faith” from mental illness?”

    If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and fucks like a duck, it is functionally a duck.

  10. Ray Moscow says

    The term ‘pastor’ generally means that the perp had some education beyond high school, perhaps even a university degree.

    There’s nothing to say except the words of Stevie Wonder,

    … when you believe in things you don’t understand, then you* suffer — superstition** ain’t the way.

    * or more often, innocent children
    ** including Christianity and Islam

  11. ash says

    Honestly though, I wouldn’t be suprised if it were found that these weird parents-killing-their-children phenomena are due some some coupling of deep religious belief and OCD, the poison here being religion. ( I have too many friends with OCD to blame that aspect of it). These kinds of “ideas” clearly fester a good bit before they are acted on. Also I’d bet that these families have almost 0 contact with the rest of society.

  12. says

    Mirax. South Korea is third world in the religious sense. Its Christianity is the result of Christian missions to the infidels and pagans. In other respects, of course, it is not third world at all, but I think it is important to remember that, like many countries in Africa, Christianity is layered onto a very different culture, and has not gone through the kinds of development and transformation experienced by Christianity in Europe. That’s all I meant by the term “third world” in this context.

  13. MosesZD says

    The term ‘pastor’ generally means that the perp had some education beyond high school, perhaps even a university degree.

    Actually it doesn’t. Huge swaths of Assembly of God preachers have no training at all. Many of them become preachers right after coming off years of alcoholism or out of prison or some other shit-deprived life. It’s kind of a running joke in their circles.

    In fact, I went to one for a few years with my ex, despite being an athiest. It was amusing as all hell. And the preacher was a former convicted murderer, you can read about it here:

    It must be hard to watch the man who murdered your mother 30 years ago sermonize about the godly life. Ron Liles watches him gesticulate and stroll across a stage, not from a pew, but on his computer screen in suburban Dallas, some 700 miles away from the church in Madison, Tenn., where the preacher tells this story of profound redemption.

    (Madison is just north of Nashville on I-65.)

    Now he’s all holy-roller and what-not. But I talked to him a lot the two-years I went there… He’s still the same on the inside, he just bullshits the sheep.

    And lives in his gated community with his million dollar mansion… Oh, and how he got there… He so conned the sheep it was unbelievable… He got them to BEG him to move into that house… It was such a reverse-psychology con… Just fucking brilliant.

  14. Ray Moscow says

    Moses, they don’t have to go to Bible school or anything? (Not that these would count as ‘education’ outside of those church circles.)

    In my original fundie denomination, most preachers had either Bible degrees or diplomas, either from Christian colleges or Bible schools. There were a few backwoods preachers who had neither, but they were rare.

    In my final denomination (the US Episcopal church), most pastors had to have real university degrees to even be eligible for seminary (which was basically a masters in religious studies). Of course that’s probably worlds away from the guy in this sad story.

    I guess my point was that the ‘pastor’ was a relatively well educated person, and that we can’t blame his crime on simple ignorance. It was a bad idea, put into his and his wife’s head by religion, that killed his children.

  15. Marshall says

    How does one distinguish “faith” from mental illness?

    Simple: I was able to actively choose to give up my faith, and I am not able to actively choose to stop being mentally ill. I wish people would stop making this particular comparison.

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