Pacific News Minute: Fiji works to deport 6 leaders of a South Korean religious group
Fijian authorities say they are in the process of deporting six leaders of a South Korean religious sect.
Hundreds of followers moved to the Pacific nation a decade ago and built a thriving business empire.
Officials say they were only able to apprehend four of the principals of the Grace Road Church. Senior Director Daniel Kim and another man were on the run.
It’s unclear how the deportations will affect the estimated 400 South Korean followers who remain in Fiji, and the hundreds of local Fijians they employ.
Grace Road businesses are well-known across the island country. They include farms, restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations.
The sect first moved to Fiji under Kim's mother, Shin Ok-ju, who told her followers that Fiji provided a safe haven from what she believed was an approaching war and famine.
She is currently imprisoned in South Korea after being found guilty of various crimes, including holding several members captive and assaulting them.
Fijian Immigration Minister Pio Tikoduadua said the deportations were carried out under his discretion. He said Interpol first issued notices for the six in 2018 after South Korea filed arrest warrants.
The move represented a change in attitude toward the sect's leaders under Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, who won election in December.
Tikoduadua said the activities of the Grace Road Church — which he described as a cult — had always been surrounded by controversy.