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Portraits of Pastor Yonggi Cho, Korean Pentecostal Minister Visiting Sydney. Pictured in Sydney Square, near St Andrew's Church.

Source: Fairfax Media Archives / Getty

David Cho Yong-gi, one of the world’s biggest preachers and founder of the Yoido Full Gospel Church, has transitioned. He was 85.

Cho Yong-gi had been hospitalized since June 2020 after suffering a fall and passed away Sunday (September 12) after suffering a brain hemorrhage.


The megachurch pastor founded the Yoido Full Gospel Church in 1958 and it grew to one of the largest churches in the world, much less South Korea. More than 480,000 people attended weekly, according to Leadership Network, an international organization of church leaders.

Across South Korea, Yoido has over 500 locations and has sent thousands of missionaries to different countries over the years. Cho Yong-gi himself participated in religious rallies and movements across 71 countries during his tenure at the church.

He was born in 1936 and lived through the Korean War where he served as an interpreter between his school principal and the U.S. military commander. Years prior, he had been diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis and told he didn’t have long to live. The news prompted him to turn to Christianity, a move he would later credit with his “miraculous” recovery.

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He’d go on to enroll at Full Gospel Theological Seminary and founded the Yoido Full Gospel Church soon after, with only five members. Soon, he’d go on to add thousands and later hundreds of thousands of parishioners. At one point, the church said it had over 700,000 members in 1993 and only grew as the church became more known internationally.

However, for all the prosperity, there was controversy and scandal. In 2014, he was found guilty of embezzling $14 million in church donations to buy stocks owned by his son, at four times their market value, according to Reuters.

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David Cho Yong-gi, South Korean Mega Church Founder, Transitions At 85  was originally published on