Dahn Yoga’s Response to CNN Broadcast
CNN has advertised the lead up to a story that they will begin airing on January 5, 2010. CNN’s report will be principally investigating claims in a recent lawsuit against Dahn Yoga. We are concerned that the sensational claims of the plaintiffs may get most of the attention, which would be unfortunate. The plaintiffs have used news media to try to pressure Dahn Yoga into a large monetary settlement. If CNN only listened to the plaintiffs, they would get a distorted story about Dahn Yoga. Therefore, we at Dahn Yoga have fervently tried to help CNN air a fair and balanced story. We hope that CNN does not allow itself to be a tool of plaintiffs in a law suit.
1. The Lawsuit misrepresents Dahn Yoga, its employees and supporters
Dahn Yoga consists of programs for health and well-being and has provided great benefits to more than one million people in 10 countries throughout the world since 1985. Insinuating that Dahn Yoga is a cult damages the reputation of the nearly 3000 Dahn Yoga instructors around the world who take pride in their work as professionals and the hundreds of thousands of Dahn Yoga members who happily choose Dahn Yoga as their program for health and wellness.
2. Using the media as a means of exploitation
In May of 2009, 27 former Dahn Yoga employees filed a lawsuit against us without any clear factual evidence. They claim that we are a cult that uses different tactics to brainwash our practitioners. Instead of properly presenting their claims in court, they are using the media to air their grievances, attempting to pressure us into a large monetary settlement. One of the arguments they are claiming is that they were overworked. You may have wondered about how long the instructors work at the center and what they do. We give the instructors at every center the liberty to create and set their own hours. If they are not spending their time teaching others and meeting with members, during their free time they have the benefit of utilizing the center as a place for their own personal-training and practice. The plaintiffs also claimed they were physically tortured and experienced mental distress. The physical and mental distress they speak of is the bowing and yeon-dahn (sleeping tiger, eagle posture, etc.) practice that we do in regular class. Bowing and yeon-dahn are methods of strengthening the body and calming the mind in ancient Asian practices from which Dahn Yoga was derived. Bowing is also a well-known form of physical training and meditation practiced by many traditions throughout history.
Although the former employees have amended and re-filed their claims, they know that they still lack sufficient evidence to support their claims. Therefore they are making good on their threat to attack us with negative media coverage if we do not submit to their demands for tens of millions of dollars. We have not given into any of their demands because we are confident that we will win in court, and therefore they have continuously slandered us through the media in a campaign against our company and founder. CNN is now their latest attempt to extort money from Dahn Yoga.
3. Attacking Ilchi Lee’s character and work
CNN expressed a lot of interest in the plaintiffs’ claims and ideas about Ilchi Lee. They have asked questions and researched the plaintiffs’ claims, and we hope that they equally give space to Ilchi Lee’s 30-year dedication to health and peace and do not ignore his international recognition. Mr. Lee is the recipient of the Civic Medal of Honor, the highest civilian honor awarded by the government of his native South Korea. He has been both a guest and a host speaker at the United Nations; he has established two universities and several non-profit organizations. Ilchi Lee founded Dahn Yoga and laid a strong, successful foundation for Dahn Yoga’s global expansion. He handed over Dahn Yoga’s management to his students in 2002, and since then he has not been involved in Dahn Yoga’s management and operation. Information about Mr. Lee’s global humanitarian activities is readily available on the Internet and it was directly provided to CNN’s producers.
4. Concern for the representation of Mago statue, a symbol of peace
We know that CNN captured part of the presentation at the Mago Earth Park grand opening, an event recently hosted in Arizona by one of our non-profit affiliates. Because the plaintiffs have attempted or threatened to sabotage events hosted by Ilchi Lee, we are concerned that CNN’s footage could be used to promote the plaintiffs accusations and pejorative portrayals of Dahn Yoga as a cult and Ilchi Lee as a cult leader. This symbol of peace represents our connection to the earth. The Mago story is an East Asian cultural heritage passed down through generations of oral tradition. Ancient Mago is similar to Gaia of the Western tradition and is a mythical archetype of Mother Earth common to various cultures throughout the world. Ilchi Lee tells the story of Mago to communicate that the spirit that humanity shares a single source, and that source is the Earth. The Mago statue was erected to promote Earth awareness and a global peace initiative, specifically not representing or insisting on any one belief.
CNN Action Timeline
November 16, 2009: Initial Contact by David Fitzpatrick of CNN
November 19, 2009: Visit to Union Square Center by CNN Producer Undercover
November 23, 2009: On-going Discussion about scheduling Interview
December 9, 2009: Informational Interview without Cameras at offices of Herrick Feinstein LLP (Legal Counsel to Ilchi Lee)
December 10, 2009: Rescheduled On-Camera Interview due to Joseph’s Family Emergency
December 16, 2009: Trespass and Disruption by CNN at Mago Earth Park Dedication Ceremony (2 Cameramen and 2 Reporters)
December 18, 2009: Legal Counsel Complained to CNN Legal Department, Uninvited CNN Cameraman Filmed at Astoria Center
December 23, 2009: On-Camera Interview with CNN at Offices of Herrick Feinstein LLP
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