Shincheonji leader Lee Man-hee, a self-proclaimed messiah, describes himself as a simple person who urges others to let go of materialistic passions.

But some former followers of Tan Thien Dia said they saw a very different `face` of him: erratic and ostentatious.

Shincheonji leader Lee Man-hee at a press conference in Gapyeong, South Korea on March 2.

In September 2018, Lee wore a white suit to visit Shincheonji Church in Daegu in a luxury car Mercedes Maybach S600.

`Like a king,` said Hee-jin Koh, a former member of Tan Thien Dia.

When meeting privately with followers, Lee often scolded them for not recruiting enough new members.

`You will be tested,` Lee growled.

Lee was born in 1931 to a poor family in Cheongdo, southeastern Korea, now a popular `pilgrimage` site for Shincheonji believers.

As the sixth son in a family of 12 children, Lee did not receive a good education while growing up in the countryside.

Lee does not hesitate to sue those who doubt the legitimacy of Shincheonji, the sect he founded in 1984. Tak Ji-won, who runs a counseling room for former heretics, said he was once

When Lee and Tak first met in the mid-2000s, Lee described himself as a god.

But at Shincheonji’s public events, Lee showed a more noble side.

On March 2, Lee had an even more humble tone when talking to reporters at his mansion located more than 60 km from Seoul.

On March 5, Tan Thien Dia donated more than 10 million USD to anti-epidemic funds, mostly for Daegu city.

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon accused Lee of hindering the fight against Covid-19 by only providing a partial list of followers and branches to the authorities.

In Daegu, officials have not yet found all the people on the list.

In addition to the legal challenge by the city of Seoul, the Daegu city government also sued Tan Thien Dia to get more detailed information about local members.

Prosecutors in Seoul are investigating the mayor’s allegations.

However, Sung Seung-hwan, a lawyer at Maeheon law firm in South Korea, said that these legal challenges `will most likely go nowhere`.

Lee is no stranger to the Korean legal system.

Jin was not convinced.