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September 14, 2021

David Cho Yong-gi, a South Korean pastor who founded one of South Korea's largest and most popular megachurches died on Tuesday morning, his church said in a news release.

Cho had been hospitalized since a collapse in June 2020 and died in Seoul after suffering a brain hemorrhage. He was 85. Cho founded the Yoido Full Gospel Church in 1958, which grew to be among the world's largest churches with more than 480,000 attendees per week, according to Leadership Network, an international organization of church leaders.
Yoido has more than 500 church locations across South Korea and has sent thousands of missionaries to different countries over the years, according to the church's news release. Yoido became perhaps Korea's best-known representative, boasting more than 700,000 members by 1993.

Born in 1936, Cho lived through the Korean War, during which he served as an interpreter between his school principal and the US military commander, the church said in its release.

In his second year of high school, he was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis and told he would not live much longer. During this time he turned to Christianity, a decision he would later credit with his "miraculous" recovery, according to the church. Cho's recovery prompted him to enroll in the Full Gospel Theological Seminary, and he established the Yoido church after graduating. The church began as just five members gathered under a tent in Seoul, according to the church's website.

Within South Korea, Cho became a hugely influential figure; he founded a Christian daily newspaper, established a humanitarian NGO, and wrote several books, said the church release. Cho's wife died in February this year. The couple leaves behind three sons.