Ferry Owner Sought Asylum in France, Canada

The fugitive owner of ferry operator Chonghaejin Marine and part-time cult leader Yoo Byeong-eon apparently sought political asylum in France and Canada but was rejected by both.

An official at the Incheon District Prosecutors' Office on Tuesday said, "Recently, an unnamed person tried on behalf of Yoo to seek political asylum overseas by contacting foreign embassies here. But they rejected the request since he has been charged with criminal offenses."

Prosecutors declined to go into details due to diplomatic courtesy, but Yoo apparently claimed political and religious persecution. Embassy sources declined to comment.

Yoo and his children own huge swathes of real estate in France, including the entire village of Courbefy which they bought for 520,000 euros in May 2012. Yoo's photographs have been exhibited at the Palace of Versailles and the Louvre Museum.

His eldest daughter, Sum-na was arrested by French police in Paris late last month and awaits an extradition hearing in jail.

In Canada, the Yoo family operates a huge campsite for students in Vancouver.

Prosecutors on Monday raided the home of Yoo's eldest son Dae-gyun in southern Seoul and seized 16 artworks and four imported cars to cover part of the damage compensation from the ferry disaster on April 16 that killed hundreds of passengers.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jun. 04, 2014 09:46 KST