Dahn Yoga Voice

Dahn Yoga’s Official Response Letter to Rolling Stone (February 6, 2010)

Posted on: 02/05/2010

February 6, 2010

Will Dana, Executive Editor
Rolling Stone Magazine

Dear Mr. Dana:

Rolling Stone magazine has published an article in its February 5, 2010 issue about Dahn Yoga, its affiliates and its founder.  The article is obviously biased, presents a distorted and false depiction of Dahn Yoga and is based on information which has been discredited.

Dahn Yoga first learned that Rolling Stone intended to do an article about the lawsuit against Dahn Yoga when a former employee, and one of the plaintiffs who are suing Dahn Yoga, Lucie Vogel, bragged about her interview on her FaceBook page on October 18, 2009.  The reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, did not contact Dahn Yoga until December 15, 2009.  It is apparent that Ms. Erdely used that two-month period to interview several other plaintiffs, the plaintiffs’ attorney, and other individuals — all of whom shared a single, negative view of Dahn Yoga.

When Ms. Erdely contacted Dahn Yoga, her statements and lists of questions revealed that she was biased against Dahn Yoga and accepted (without critical review) the viewpoint of those who are antagonistic to Dahn Yoga, its affiliates and its founder.  Dahn Yoga anticipated that Ms. Erdely’s article would reflect that negativity and bias.  Without any basis, Ms. Erdely likens Dahn Yoga instructors and members as “moonies.”   Ms. Erdely uses descriptions like “cult” and “creep show” to denigrate Dahn Yoga and its people.  Her article is nothing more than an attack on Dahn Yoga and its practices and fails to provide any insight into the nature of the organization or the experience of its constituents.

In fact, Dahn Yoga invited Ms. Erdely to visit a Dahn Yoga center and speak with current instructors and members.  She declined, stating that her article was “about the lawsuit.”  Had she accepted Dahn Yoga’s invitation, Ms. Erdely would have learned that one of her main contentions in her article — that Dahn Yoga forces its members and instructors into financial bondage — is false.  Moreover, Ms. Erdely would have learned that her claim that Dahn Yoga “recruits” members from college campuses is also false — Dahn Yoga’s program in which student practitioners shared Dahn Yoga exercises and techniques with their peers was discontinued years ago. Instead, Ms. Erdely adopted the contentions of the attorney for the disgruntled former employees who are suing Dahn Yoga — who often claims that Dahn Yoga’s “college program” is a key recruiting tool for new members.  Ms. Erdely also adopts the accounts from these plaintiffs without writing about the substantial misconduct of those individuals, including significant (and criminal) fraud — which in some cases led these people to incur tremendous financial debt.

Finally, Ms. Erdely expressed an intense curiosity about Ilchi Lee.  However, her inquiries sought only to attack Mr. Lee on the same basis as the incredible accusations being made by the plaintiffs in the Arizona litigation and Mr. Lee’s detractors from Korea.  In that regard, Ms. Erdely ignored publicly available information in Korean media and public records which belie these contentions and discredit most of the allegations being made against Mr. Lee.  In fact, Ms. Erdely repeated much of the information from Korean sources, relying upon unverified and blogs and websites devoted to attacking Dahn Yoga, many of which have adjudicated to be false and defamatory by Korean courts.

In sum, Ms. Erdely’s article in Rolling Stone comprises nothing more than a regurgitation of previous allegations made by disgruntled former employees (who are seeking millions from Dahn Yoga and Mr. Lee in their lawsuit) and those detractors in Korea who have already been brought to justice in Korean courts.  Although Dahn Yoga acknowledges and embraces the rights of others to criticize its practices under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Rolling Stone article and Ms. Erdely’s conduct violates numerous principals of responsible journalism and runs afoul of any concept of fair play.  Dahn Yoga is in the process of evaluating its legal options against Rolling Stone.


Joseph Alexander,
Vice President-Communications
Dahn Yoga & Health Centers

12 Responses to "Dahn Yoga’s Official Response Letter to Rolling Stone (February 6, 2010)"

I agree wholeheartedly with this response. When I read the article in Rolling Stone magazine I was completely appalled by the complete lack of journalistic integrity and FACT in the article.

This is a work of fiction, and in that regard it reaches new heights of imagination and creativity as it manipulates reality. In the REAL WORLD, where I live, it would be given an “F” by my 10th grade English teacher for using uncited quotations, sources and stories proven to be false, and distorting fact. So sad. At least Rolling Stone never had (and never will have) a reputation for being a news publication.

Wow, we are getting popular. Ego vs. true self.

Thanks for giving us a behind-the-scenes perspective on the “Rolling Stone” article. It felt like an intricately woven fairy tale to me when I read it. It shows me how many perspectives and interpretations there can be of a few scant facts. It reminds me of how much we each create our own little world, and that I constantly need to decide consciously what kind of world I want to create for myself, instead of just letting it happen to me. It also reminds me not to believe even half of what I hear/see in the media and that information is ephemeral. I’d rather trust my body and the energy I can sense through it. Truth is not outside of myself.

Thanks for writing this other side. I knew the article was very one-sided and made to be like a shock and awe campaign. What I have experienced so far at Dahn Yoga does not even match one ounce of what was written, nothing is “creepy”, and. The truth will come out on top as always, and I hope the readers of Rolling Stones are smart enough to know hyped up stories when you hear one.

I don’t think life is a fairytale. To say someone has an Ego because they don’t agree with you or difference of opinion is all too easy and personally I think a lack of responsibility. Relationships take more than one person therefore to selfishley say things are one sided in my opinion is ignoring the truth whether your completely living inside yourself or not. It’s just fact. I pray for this whole situation and I hope it gets better for everyone.

yes…very nicely put.

Dear RS Editor,

I am writing to you as a now, former dedicated reader of Rolling Stone magazine.

In reference to the February 5th article about Dahn Yoga, I am surprised that RS would publish such a ridiculous article. It is clear that your editorial staff has no understanding about the Dahn practice; nor, does there seem to be any interest from the staff in finding out–and publishing–the many benefits that this practice holds for individuals, communities and the Planet.

Since I have first-hand experience of many things the reporter writes about, I am tempted to go item-by-item to refute the gross inaccuracies of the article. But I value my time, so I will only say that RS should have taken a cue from the experience of the Korean magazine Shin Dong Ah, which was compelled to publish a retraction of its own trashy article about the Dahn practice. What RS deserves for itself publishing such trash, would be best expressed by the vernacular. But I will leave it to our legal experts to express it, after their own manner.

Finally, as a college student, I, too, cleaned toilets–for the Roman Catholic Church. The church was located adjacent to the college campus. There is nothing special about cleaning toilets–every where there is a toilet, it needs to be cleaned. But the reporter kept mentioning about it. It shows her poor taste. It is too bad for Rolling Stone that you would allow this reporter’s ”work” to appear in your magazine. Really too bad.

John Thompson

I think the real message here is to love..this is what my dahn practice has taught me as an instructor and member this is what I have learned..that in times of despair and sadness we need to love..we need to understand. I am so tired of the sticks and stones being thrown around. We must pray for love..we must seek love and understanding so that we can become better humans. Please let’s change this around. I hope Masters and Members and Instructor, Healers, and those who are here and those who have left feel my words of sorrow and love at the same time. Hear my cries..I am so tired of this seperation..I am so tired..I am so tired of seeing people hurt on either side of the fence..I am tired..and I want it to get better. Please join me in your energy for love of dahn practice, love for others, love for this situation and Peace for Everyone..Everyone.

How about the part of the article that said Mr. Lee spent time in jail?
Is that false?

Ah, I see now where that thread came from Karen 🙂 I think I see where you are coming from and I appreciate and agree with the comments you made here and below. I feel the same way, except I think that life is a bit of a fairytale ^^.

But I have seen many ‘facts’ about things and situations in which I was present, and also those in which I was not. And seeing the ‘facts’ and opinions from situations when I was present has made me realize that two people can be in the very same situation and see something completely different. And that how they see it can even change over time. And then when they start sharing their own experience with other people, after a while it sounds like what they’re saying is ‘just what happened,’ when in fact it is their experience of what happened. And every experience is totally valid. But it’s made me more wary of all information. I just think I need to keep in mind the layers of information that go into anything someone communicates or writes, even myself.

And when I focus inside myself and try to stay in my center, I can still see the rest of the world. In fact, I can see more of those many layers of information. And I can be grounded in the truth that is beyond all information, the truth that has many names–chunjikiun/chunjimaum, tao, the source, God, whatever you want to call it. It’s only when I am there that I can move past the smallness of this situation and am able to love and understand.

I still think the Rolling Stone article is a very colorful conglomeration of ‘facts’ that are people’s real experiences and opinions with a very definite theme. And I am grateful for this time and experience that gives me, the Dahn Yoga organization, and other entities that teach Ilchi Lee’s methods, a chance to improve and grow.

No Marty, that part was not false.

Ilchi Lee was jailed on charges of violating several laws: selling small amounts of herbs without a license; selling food supplements without a license; for purchasing land indirectly (under a law trying to prevent land speculation); and for operating a “school” without approval from Ministry of Education. He spent 70 days in a local jail until his sentence was suspended. These were all things that he did for the benefit of Instructors and not directed at the public. For example, Ilchi Lee created and distributed the herbal remedies and food supplements to help support the health and well-being of Instructors. He also arranged for a special program for Instructors, many of whom did not complete their formal university educations because they were serving the Company’s vision. The end of this program had a “graduation” atmosphere with cap and gowns. Photos of this program were the “evidence” the accusers used against Ilchi Lee. Lastly, the land now known as Chun Hwa Won was purchased as a place for the training of Instructors, and not meant as land for his or anyone else’s personal use.
None of these charges would be considered criminal in North America or Europe, and are no longer criminalized in Korea. Ilchi Lee was jailed because South Korea has no system of bail; if someone is arrested they can be held in custody without being formally charged. (See Korea Times article http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/special/2009/06/175_13837.html)

Result: Many detractors like to say that Ilchi Lee is a “convicted criminal,” while the truth is that he served time in jail while he was accused. Currently, the Korean government has no “criminal record” on Ilchi Lee, since these charges were removed from the record because a certain amount of time has passed. Now a Dahn World affiliate has ministry approval for a university and for selling many food and herbal supplements.

cc: Will Dana, Jan Wenner c/o Meredith Carhart

Dear Ms. Erdely:

I wanted to express my deep regret for the article that you wrote about Dahn Yoga and Ilchi Lee in Rolling Stone. I have been an instructor for 5 years and very satisfied with my job and practice in Dahn Yoga. I have seen other articles that have taken a similar route that you have–getting one-sided information and twisting details. Had you visited a center, or talked with our instructors and members, you would have seen another side. Your depiction is only possible for someone with little or no experience in mind-body training, with little or no exposure to Asian cultures, who received questionable information from people with an agenda.

Although this news has come out, we are still receiving new members and they are satisfied and happy. This article has helped the instructors and members become stronger and we have learned that our deep trust and conviction in our own experience trumps all negative and slanderous news reporting, it is merely a small dent in our armor. You may have had a well-meaning intention to inform the general public about so-called injustices, but it may just delay them in finding better health and more meaning and purpose in their life.


Susan Kim

Sedona, AZ

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