Fiji Detains Local Leader of Korean Doomsday Sect

Fiji's government announced on Friday that the local leader of a powerful Korean doomsday sect had been taken into immigration custody after he and several other members of the Grace Road Church were declared "prohibited migrants" based on charges filed in South Korea in 2018.

Fiji FB AubreyFugitive Grace Road leader Daniel Kim (second left) receives a business award in 2017 on stage beside former Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama. (Photo: Prime Minister’s International Business Awards/Facebook, License)Fiji stated on Thursday that it was taking steps to deport Danel Kim and the other sect members who had been detained. The passports of the sect members had been annulled by the Korean government in 2021, and Interpol Red Notices were issued against them. Fijian Home Affairs Minister Pio Tikoduadua revealed that all of this had been ignored by the previous Fiji government, according to local media.

According to Tikoduadua, two sect members have already been deported, while the deportations of another two were temporarily halted by a court order. One more member is still at large.

A joint investigation by OCCRP and KICJ-Newstapa last year exposed how the secretive Grace Road became an economic powerhouse in Fiji during the repressive 16-year rule of former Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who lost power in elections last December.

Reporters discovered that the church was able to thrive in Fiji despite Kim and other key members being wanted on international warrants. The investigation also uncovered how the church expanded its empire, which included a farm, restaurants, petrol stations, and supermarkets, all while receiving millions in state-backed loans.

Grace Road's spiritual leader, Kim's mother Ok-joo Shin, was arrested at Seoul's international airport in 2018 and imprisoned for offenses including assault, child abuse, and imprisoning church members.

Around the same time, Korean police attempted to bring Kim and other church members back on similar charges in Fiji but were forced to return empty-handed after a court blocked their removal.