Ferry Owner Buried at Cult Compound

Ferry owner Yoo Byung-eon was buried on Saturday at a sprawling compound south of Seoul owned by the crackpot religious cult he led. Yoo's body was found in a badly decomposed state on June 12 in a remote field in southwestern Korea.

The entrance to the compound was bustling on Saturday morning with buses and cars carrying thousands of followers. Private security guards were posted at the gate checking whether guests had invitations.

Followers at the ceremony were mostly in their 40s or over but included some teenagers and foreigners.

Around 400 police were stationed near the compound.

Followers watch ferry owner Yoo Byung-eons coffin being carried to his grave at a cult compound in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province on Sunday. Followers watch ferry owner Yoo Byung-eon's coffin being carried to his grave at a cult compound in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province on Sunday.

According to accounts from guests, groups of 10 people at a time were allowed to walk up to a memorial altar to place flowers and offer their condolences. A large screen was set up behind the altar showing images of Yoo and photographs he took in his bid to establish himself as a photographer of international renown.

The guests were greeted by his brother-in-law Oh Gab-riel, a former ambassador to the Czech Republic, instead of son Yoo Dae-kyun.

Yoo Dae-kyun was on temporary release from police custody and was at one point spotted sitting by himself next to a private bathroom near the altar, sobbing with his head bowed.

Yoo's widow, Kwon Yun-ja, was also granted temporary release from police custody but apparently stayed out of view during the funeral and remained in a separate room with other family members.

Around 4,000 people attended the funeral. After the ceremony, Yoo's body was buried on a hill overlooking the compound.

One cult member in his 30s said, "Many female followers were crying all throughout the ceremony."

Another follower claimed prosecutors were responsible for Yoo's death after placing a bounty on his head and hunting him across the nation.

The shady businessman and cult leader is widely held responsible for the April 16 ferry disaster that killed around 300 people.

Yoo Dae-kyun, the tycoon's younger brother Byung-ho (61), his widow and another brother-in-law Kwon Oh-gyun (64), who were all granted temporary leave from police custody, met after the funeral to discuss the fate of the cult. They were taken back to jail in Incheon at around 7 p.m. Sunday.

englishnews@chosun.com / Sep. 01, 2014 09:28 KST