7 dark and disturbing secrets about Shincheonji – the shadowy church in South Korea

By March 1, 2020Current

TL;DR – The secret to gathering 240,000 faithful followers.

South Korea’s secretive church Shincheonji Church of Jesus, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (SCJ), has been in the spotlight for a while now after infections were first confirmed among worshippers in the southern city of Daegu.

Unsurprisingly, this mysterious church, which has been called a cult, is responsible for more than half of the COVID-19 cases in South Korea today has aroused a lot of curiosity among people.

A South Korean netizen, who claimed to be an ex-SCJ church member, has recently uploaded a video on her YouTube channel to help shed some light about the mega church’s approach to evangelism, and how can one differentiate an SCJ church from the traditional mainstream ones.

The video, entirely in Korean, was uploaded on Feb 23 and has since garnered over 250,000 views.

Here’s some of the tea which she has spilled in her 12-minute long video:

1. The process of Shincheonji’s evangelism

According to her, SCJ typically involves at least two to four people in their evangelism process.

  • Guide – this person will be the one to decide who he or she wants to preach to. A guide can be anyone, including a family member, a relative, a friend, a school mate, an acquaintance… you get the drift.
  • Recruit – essentially, the person who is being “evangelised”. In other words, the person whom the guide has decided to preach to.
  • Teacher – Someone who teaches the recruit about the Bible. A teacher can also be a guide, depending on the situation. However, not everyone in SCJ can be a teacher. You’d be required to have the qualification in order to become one.
  • Manager – Someone who lends help to the recruit. The role of this person is also to gather information about the recruit, which may be helpful in the evangelising process.
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2. Recruits are required to go through mandatory bible study sessions

Recruits are made to go through bible study sessions. These sessions usually happen around two to four times a week. This is the mandatory process through which recruits have to go through before getting into the SCJ Center.

Shincheonji Center


Here, recruits will be taught the fundamental doctrine of the SCJ Church. This is also where the wrong doctrine is “implanted” into the recruits and the stage whereby people will not be able to make an accurate judgment unless they are already very familiar with the Bible themselves.

In fact, in SCJ, evangelism is usually not conducted in a pastor’s house or churches, and carried out with a very high level of heresy.

3. Recruits must pass an exam before becoming a member of Shincheonji church

The SCJ Center is where recruits study the SCJ Church’s doctrine in a larger group. Also known as the SCJ theology program, this program is a six-month-long program that requires recruits to take an exam before they can graduate.

The exam paper consists of 300 questions and the passing score for the exam is 90 marks.

Shincheonji Exam Hall


Upon graduating from SCJ’s theology programme, recruits can then become official members of the SCJ church.

Watch the graduation ceremony in the video below:

4. Shincheonji uses Telegram for security reasons

The SCJ church members are known for proselytising in secret and are told not to reveal their identities – not even to their own family members. Hence for security reasons, the church is said to use Telegram to communicate with members.

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And in the event where they find someone acting suspiciously or if they suspect someone of disguising as a member of the church, the church would then conduct a check on the person’s phone to see if they have the Telegram app installed on their phone.

The church would also access the person’s account to check if the person has recently logged in on Telegram.

5. Worship above everything else!

Typically worship service at the church takes place every Wednesday and Sunday with three sessions and two sessions each day respectively.

Church members are expected to attend these worship sessions. In the event members are unable to attend, alternate worship service may be offered.

However, if a member is absent from the church’s activities frequently, the church will then become suspicious of the person.

In any case, to the church, nothing else is as important as worship and evangelism.

6. Shincheonji would do anything and everything to recruit members

Members of SCJ are known to have several methods to try and bring new members into their church.

For instance, they would go deep into finding out things about the person they want to recruit. They would invest a lot of time to find out about the person’s concerns, worries, interest, faith… basically anything and everything about the person. They also mostly target people who tend to have a lot of time at hand.

Another method they resort to is having members of SCJ secretly join other churches and pose as new members of that church. After joining, these SCJ members would slowly attempt to convert members into moving to the Shincheonji church.

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They would also go to the extent of conducting networking sessions as a disguise to reach out to new people. However, these networking sessions would never ever involve alcohol.

7. Recruitment booth along street walks

If you ever see a recruitment booth along the street, you might want to be very mindful of the legitimacy of their recruitment drive and motive!

Apparently, SCJ is known to also disguise themselves as voluntary groups, interest clubs, high-tea groups and etc. Through these “recruitment drives”, they would then reach out to you for your contact number.

Recently, they are also known to cast an even wider net to reach more people through online surveys and online personality tests.

How do you know if someone is from Shincheonji Church?

Although we already know that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is already on high alert on the church’s activities in Singapore, and currently investigations are ongoing into the unregistered Singapore chapter of South Korea’s Shincheonji…

But you never know, right? Be aware and be very careful!

Here’s just ONE important advice from the ex-SCJ church member,

“Beware of those who try to talk to you about the Bible randomly, especially when you guys are supposedly doing things or activities that are irrelevant to faith and religion. These people will always try to steer the conversation back to the Bible no matter what!”


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Joey Wee

Author Joey Wee

I am nice, most of the time!

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Join the discussion One Comment

  • Church says:

    I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
    Romans 16:17‭-‬18 NIV — This is what’s happened.

    He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
    Titus 1:9 NIV

    Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.
    2 John 1:9‭-‬11 NIV

    For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,
    Romans 15:4‭-‬5 NASB1995

    As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.
    1 John 2:27 NIV

    I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
    Mark 1:8 NIV

    But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
    John 14:26‭-‬27 NIV

    But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.  He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.
    John 16:13‭-‬14 NIV

    Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
    Acts 2:38 NIV

    Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.  Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.  You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
    John 3:5‭-‬8 NIV

    Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
    1 John 4:1 NIV

    I believe in what has been said in this commentary. Yet I’m still saddened by the amount of people being fooled by this “Revealed Word.” This “Revealed Word” has contradictions left, right and centre making it a clear false doctrine. But those who don’t know sound doctrine according to God’s Word won’t be able to discern it. I’m sorry for those teachers. I reckon most of them believe that they’re preaching the truth. Yet they have truly become the PTS.

    Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
    James 3:1 NIV