An influential follower of the cult led by Yoo Byung-eon, the de facto owner of ferry operator Chonghaejin Marine, turned herself in to authorities on Friday. She is suspected of a key role in helping Yoo evade capture.
The 64-year-old, identified only by her surname Shin, is the wife of a wealthy businessman.
Accompanied by a lawyer, Shin walked into the prosecutors' office in Suwon and was later transferred to the Incheon office, which is in charge of the investigation. She told prosecutors she had been in hiding for some time but could bear it no longer when she saw so many people arrested as the investigation intensified.
Prosecutors want to know whether Shin was also instrumental in helping the Yoo family amass their fortune and evade arrest. Some prosecutors worry that Shin's dramatic surrender is a diversionary tactic.
Yoo's older brother, Yoo Byung-ill, was also arrested on Friday. He was caught near the cult's compound in Anseong south of Seoul and has been charged with embezzling funds from Chonghaejin Marine and illegal real estate dealings.
The elder Yoo was on Chonghaejin Marine's payroll and paid some W2.5 million a month by the ferry operator (US$1=W1,018).
Meanwhile, prosecutors have learned that DNA samples collected from the Anseong compound match samples collected from a house in Suncheon, South Jeolla Province where Yoo was hiding. "There is no doubt that Yoo was in Suncheon," a prosecutor said.