Muslim-Convert South Korean YouTuber Backlash After Fundraising For A Mosque Construction Project


From being a K-Pop idol, he converted to Islam and become a YouTuber, and later, a preacher. But his transformation isn't without issues and controversies.

While his journey is his willingness to pursuit his passion, he gained attention from those who wish to see positive changes in him, as well as those who wish to see the weaknesses of a man.

Daud Kim, born in South Korea, made headlines for his ambitious project: building a masjid (mosque) in Incheon, South Korea.

Through his personal Instagram account, he shared his dream of creating the place of worship for fellow Muslims. Daud signed a contract to purchase a piece of land in Incheon, measuring 284.4 square meters, at a cost of 189.2 million won (approximately Rp2.2 billion).

And this started the controversies.

Daud Kim
Daud Kim, a YouTube content creator, a Muslim-convert who was once a K-Pop idol.

Daud Kim, formerly known as Jay Kim, gained his first significant attention after converting to Islam in 2019, and later, for promoting the understanding and awareness of the religion.

Through his YouTube channel, he features content related to his experiences as a Muslim, about Islamic teachings, and cultural exchanges between South Korea and the Muslim world.

His conversion has inspired many, leading to a large following among Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Since his conversion, he has been involved in various charitable activities.

And this time, the mosque donation is one of Daud's most notable charitable endeavors.

In the land he purchased, not only he wished to build a mosque, because he also plans to establish a podcast studio.

This studio shall serve as a platform for spreading Islamic teachings to the Korean community. His vision combines faith, technology, and community engagement.

His efforts have been aimed at helping Muslim communities, particularly in non-Muslim-majority countries where resources for religious infrastructure might be limited.

For starters, Daud collaborated with other influencers, charities, and organizations to maximize the reach and impact of his fundraising efforts.

These collaborations help to gather more support and donations from a broader audience.

Daud often provides updates and detailed reports on how the funds are being utilized, giving his audience confidence that their contribution is making a difference.

"Finally with your help, I have signed a contract for land to build Masjid in Incheon. I can’t believe this day has come. I plan to build a prayer place and Islamic podcast studio for D’awah to Koreans," he said.

"There will be many hardships but I believe I can do it. Until the day when every street in Korea is filled with beautiful Adzan, I will do my best," he added.

Then, challenges came.

For starters, the previous land owner terminated the land contract to administrative hurdles and allegations of fraud, compounded by resistance from local residents.

"It will be difficult for the municipality to approve the construction of a venue for a religious congregation, considering the road conditions around the property," an official at Incheon’s Jung District Office said.

Some residents also complained that if a masjid is built there, the construction may "lower housing prices in the area," local news agency reported.

While Daud does have a lot of fans and followers, especially since his subscribers to his YouTube account has amassed millions, locals complained about road blockages, dust and "noise" that can come from masjid.

Then, there is the report that Daud was using his personal bank account for receiving the donations.

"I need financial help to complete the building. If you would like to help, please donate here," the YouTuber had said while sharing his bank details.

Locals argue that Daud cannot use personal funds to construct a public place of worship in the country, and that he was "misusing" his funds.

Concerns arose about using personal bank accounts for donations, as South Korean regulations discourage such practices.

"All masjids across the country associated with the Korean Muslim Federation are registered under the name of the KMF, and nobody is allowed to register in the name of an individual or raise funds for the construction of the Masjid," the group informed.

Receiving money through his own account also raised objections, which people alleging that Daud was "using Islam to gain popularity and scam people."

After all, Daud once admitted that he is married, his wife is also a convert, and that he also uses Islam to gain profit online.

Amid the row over the mosque, Daud’s past has returned to haunt him.

Before he converted to Islam, Daud committed, and also admitted to a sex crime. At the time, he was allegedly prosecuted for attempting to rape a foreign woman.

A TikTok video posted by the survivor discussing the attempted rape resurfaced and gained viral attention.

Later, Daud clarified that the case had been closed and the charges suspended after he apologized to the woman, who reportedly didn’t wish that he be punished.

Then, people began debating about his past, considering the earlier time when Daud was a Muslim convert, he still drank alcohol and hang out with young women.

At the time, Daud admitted this, and said that "as a Muslim, I did a lot of things that I shouldn’t do."

He also revealed that he used the religion as a short cut to gain profit on his YouTube account.

"I was arrogant because of my popularity and pretended to be a good person in front of the camera. Even though I know it was very wrong, I went on committing so many sins. I repent to Allah and I apologize to those who have supported me."

It was after this, that he went on a hiatus, where he focused on his self-reflection period.

Long story short, Daud purchased the property, located on Yeongjong Island, about one kilometer from Yeongjong Station, purely through money he received from donations.

And this resulted to some people claimed that Daud allegedly solicited donations from his followers under the guise of supporting mosque construction project, but when the promised mosque failed to materialize, this led to accusations of misappropriation of funds and deception.

Further, allegations of personal misconduct, including inflicting bruises upon his wife and evading divorce proceedings, have cast a shadow over Daud's public image.

These controversies have raised questions about his integrity and intentions, jeopardizing his credibility within both religious and entertainment spheres.

The mosque controversy has put a spotlight on the Muslim population in the country.

By becoming a Muslim, Daud becomes a part of a minority group of 150,000 Korean Muslim community in the Asian country.

In South Korea, more than half of its more than 50 million population do not identify themselves with any religion, while 15.5% identify as Buddhists and 8% as Catholics, as per a 2015 census report.

At this time, South Korea has less than two dozen mosques, catering to Muslims from the country, as well as from foreign nationalities, like from Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Pakistan.

Most Muslims in South Korea are foreigners, consisting of laborers, students and businesspersons.

This isn't the first time an attempt to build a mosque is met with many administrative and religious hurdles.

Over the years, in South Korea, the construction of mosques has faced various complaints and displeasure from non-Muslims.

In 2020, for example, the local district office approved the construction of a new mosque in Daegu, a city in North Gyeongsang province. It quickly led to tension with nearby residents.

In 2021, the district office issued a directive to stop construction because of backlash from locals, who even placed a pig’s head at the site, knowing that pork is taboo in Muslim customs. The order was overturned by the higher courts in September 2022.

The Muslim students from Kyungppok University and rights activists gathered in large numbers and called the incident an "Islamophobic act."

So here, while many supporters praised Daud’s noble intentions, others expressed skepticism.

Some questioned the feasibility of building a masjid in Incheon due to administrative challenges.

But eventually, Daud finally delivers what he promised.