Sun Myung Moon, The Early Years, 1920-53
By Michael Breen
The Rock Of Tears
Throughout the freezing winter of 1950-51, refugees, fleeing the advancing Communist forces, poured into Pusan. By the end of January, the attacking Chinese and north Koreans were checked sixty miles south of Seoul and, by mid-March, the capital was retaken for the South by UN forces. But as long as the outcome of the war remained uncertain, the refugees still kept coming. Pusan was the safest place, or at least the farthest the Communists would have to come. Its sixty or so refugee camps bulged.
In the scramble from the North, ninety-one thousand people had been evacuated by ship from Hungnam. Hundreds of thousands came by truck, train and on foot. offshore from Pusan, Koje Island housed over a million refugees and a compound of a hundred and thirty thousand north Korean and Chinese prisoners of war. There were food short ages, exacerbated by hoarding. A black market thrived, and crime was rampant. Yet amid the ramshackle life, the proud Koreans maintained a dignity. Schools were started. local officials and gaily dressed girls were trooped out to welcome visiting US ships. Recovering from the panic of the initial outbreak of the war, the South Koreans were more confident that UN troops would drive back the north Korean army. The most telling symbol of this hopeful dependence was the erection along the airport road of hoardings to shield the squalor of the camps from the view of visiting foreign officials.
Citizens politely applauded the foreign soldiers who marched past them to the front, wondering privately by what means or motive, what intervention divine or humanitarian, so many foreigners came to their aid. Few bothered to speculate about the future and ask whether, as in earlier times in Korean history, the foreign forces would later be reluctant to leave when the conflict was over.
Sun-myung Moon and Kim Won-pil arrived at the Pusan train station in the dark, and spent the first night squatting beside a fire they made in an empty butter-can left by UN troops1 In the bitter, cold morning, the sun rose revealing the bustling squalor of the wartime city.
Moon began to seek out acquaintances whom he knew to be in the city. He found Kwak No-pil, the school friend whose empty house he had recently used in Seoul, in a small rented room, where he was living with his wife and baby daughter.2 They greeted each other warmly, and sat up all night talking about religion. Moon tried to convince Kwak that God was going to rescue mankind from evil. For Kwak, it was all a bit airy-fairy. A Christian, he was having doubts about his childhood faith. He had been in his first year studying politics at Yonsei University in Seoul when the war broke out, and both his studies and the brutal reality of war led him to question his beliefs.
"God's existence is a philosophical problem for me. I'm not even sure he exists," Kwak said.
"You're asking the wrong question," Moon said. "You should not be thinking does God exist or not. It's too theoretical. Ask instead, why does God exist? What does he exist for? If there's an answer to that question, the question about God's existence answers itself "
"That's easy to say. How does it get round the basic question? Either God exists or he doesn't," Kwak insisted.
"What I mean is, if you figure out why God exists, everything falls into place, including the fact of God's existence. Pondering God's existence by itself misses the point. The question is, does the relationship exist, the relationship between God and man."
Kwak was not convinced. In the morning Moon began to talk of his own future.
"All religions will be united one day," he said. "We have to unite the different faiths." He said he was going to write a book and that his teaching had to be spread throughout the whole world.
"One day Korea will be a great nation. Christians will come here from around the world to learn this teaching," Moon said.
Kwak listened in silence, thinking to himself, "Korea? Great? At the moment Pusan is all that remains of Korea. He is crazy."3
One afternoon, just after their arrival in the city, Moon was walking up a stairway by Pusan station. It was raining heavily. There were forty
steps. At the top, he saw a figure he recognized. It was Aum Duk-moon, his old college friend. At first Aum thought the person looking at him, though vaguely familiar, was a beggar. Moon, unshaven and soaked, was wearing a traditional-style white shirt, turned gray with grime, khaki trousers and black rubber shoes.
"Moon! " Aum shouted in recognition. They embraced.4 Moon said he had escaped from north Korea. Aum had been working in the city as an architect when the war started and was now working on a hospital construction project.
"When did you get here? What are you doing?" Aum asked. Moon smiled and did not answer. "Where are you staying?" Aum asked.
"I just arrived yesterday, so I don't have a place to stay, " Moon said.5 As Kim Won-pil had found a job as a waiter and been provided with lodgings by the restaurant owner, Moon was on his own and homeless.
"Come and stay with me," Aum said.
"I don't want to cause you any trouble," Moon said.
"Don't worry. Come and stay," Aum insisted.
"O.K., but I'll just stay for three days," Moon said. Aum, his wife and two children were renting the second floor room of a private house in the Bumin-dong area of the city. Aum gave Moon some dry clothes.
"There's no heating here. It's really freezing. Let's go out and have a drink," Aum said. He remembered that Moon didn't drink and said that Moon could have something to eat at the bar.
"I'd rather not go there," Moon said.
"O.K.," Aum said. Aum's wife, Ko Hee-yong, prepared dinner for them and washed Moon's clothes. During dinner, Moon told the story of his journey with Pak Chong-hwa and Kim Won-pil from Pyongyang.
"Since you were reading the Bible so faithfully during our student days in Japan, let's talk about Christianity," Aum said. As Moon began to speak, Aum felt a powerful warmth within.
Moon taught Aum his views of God and his providence over several days. Raised a Buddhist, Aum had no understanding of Christianity, but respected Moon and did not challenge his views. One night, he had a dream in which a woman appeared to him, claiming to be Jesus' sister The woman said that Jesus resented his own mother and that Moon had the key to freeing Jesus from this resentment. Aum told Moon about the dream and Moon explained about Jesus' suffering life, which, he claimed, even Christians did not understand. Aum dropped his
familiar attitude and began calling Moon Sonseng nim. As a courtesy marking his new respect, he gave Moon the silver chopsticks, which he had previously used himself and asked his wife to serve Moon first at mealtimes.
Aum and his wife felt their lives being transformed. Moon, they believed, possessed some special connection to God. One day, Aum's wife fell down the stairs and passed out. Aum wanted to take her to hospital, but Moon picked her up and laid her out on the floor and prayed over her intensely until she came to.
That Sunday, Kim Won-pil and Ok Se-hyun came to the Aums' house and they held a small worship service. Moon and Kim had found Mrs. Ok through Rev. Han Sang-dong, a refugee minister whose services she had attended in Pyongyang.6 Moon also found Mrs. Lee, his former landlady in Seoul. She gave Ok some material to make Moon and Kim some clothes, but they later sold the material to pay for rent.
Shortly after the first Sunday service, Aum's elderly landlady said she wanted Moon to leave. She thought it unnatural that Moon was living with Aum, his wife and two children in such cramped conditions and was irritated by their talking, which went on into the early hours. Aum stopped her from ordering Moon out directly, and, in retaliation, she threw the whole family out. They found other lodgings with two rooms, where Kim Won-pil joined them, the men sleeping in one room and Aum's wife and children in the other. After a week, they were thrown out again. Aum sent his family to find a place in Masan, a town along the coast from Pusan. Aum then slept in a friend's car.
Moon, meanwhile, had located Kim Won-dok, the north Korean army officer he had met in prison. After his transfer from Hungnam, Kim survived a massacre of prisoners by retreating Communist guards during the Korean War. He escaped to South Korea, where he became a policeman.7 Moon stayed with him and his newly-married wife for two weeks.
Moon sometimes brought Kim Won-dok and Aum Duk-moon to the restaurant where Kim Won-pil was working. Won-pil would ask the owner if he could serve them food. It was only when he noticed how Moon wolfed down his food, that he realized how hungry he must have been. In fact, Moon frequently had no food to eat, and in April, had nowhere to stay. Some days he went to the Pusan docks to find work, and he would work through the night and sleep in the open in
the warmth of the day.
But there was hope that circumstances would change, for Moon still carried with him the treasure map that Pak had been given in prison. In the summer of 1951, Moon took Aum to the coastal town of Yosu to search for the treasure. Yosu had gained some notoriety as the site of a Communist uprising a few years earlier, and the victims had been buried in the public cemetery. It was there that, according to the tale Moon had heard in prison, the Korean traveler returning from India had buried his jewels. They checked into an inn near the cemetery, and began searching for a small post with the markings 'nam-hae-bo' (south sea treasure) in the cemetery. After two days, they gave up and returned, empty-handed, to Pusan.8
Moon and Kim took a room in a boarding house for laborers, opposite the Choryung station. Moon had started writing down his theology at Kim Won-dok's home, but the atmosphere of the new place was hardly conducive to continuing this work. the paper walls accorded no privacy or escape from the noisy nightly drinking sessions of other lodgers. After ten days, they decided they should look for a place to build their own house and they moved, in July, to Pomne-gol, a hillside in the district of Pomil-dong, on the edge of the city."9
With Aum and Kim away at work during the day, Moon did most of the construction himself to make a level foundation, he built up the site with stones, which he collected from around the hillside and carried in a wooden, A-frame strapped to his back. He dug up soil and carried it in sack loads to the site. He covered each layer of stones with soil and poured water on it, and then laid another layer. The walls and roof were built of wood and cardboard boxes from shops. He made a window and covered the roof with paper. Because of the heavy summer rain, the first two efforts to make the foundation failed. The third time the construction was solid. The three-by-two-meter, one-room house was finished in September. "In our eyes, that hut was like a palace," Aum recalled."10
The shack Moon built with ration boxes in Pusan in 1951. (HSA-UWC Seoul)
Moon, Kim and Aum slept there on a mat, head to toe, and ate their meals outside off an apple crate. From the hillside at night, they could see over the city to the harbor where the American and United Nations ships docked, bringing troops and supplies. Moon would sometimes ask Aum to sing, and they would talk and sing until the early hours.
Twenty yards down the hillside, there was another refugee-built house, in which sixteen members of a family, called Song, lived. The Songs, once well-to-do Buddhists in north Korea, had come by freight train from Pyongyang.11 One of the Song children, twelve-year-old Moon-kyu, led a gang of thirty refugee boys in the area who had occasionally helped Moon and Kim Won-pil with the construction of the house.
One day Moon, whom the boys called 'Big Uncle,12 called out to him. "Follow me up the hill," he said. Song Moon-kyu followed.
"Do you know who Jesus Christ is?" Moon asked suddenly.
"I don't know," Moon-kyu answered.
"Do you know where Israel is?"
"You don't know, but next time, son, I will tell you," Moon said. The boy was not so interested, but he was impressed with Big Uncle.
After building the house, Moon dug out the nearby spring to make a well, which the Song family used. One night in the typhoon season, the Songs' roof blew off. In the morning, Moon brought them some hot soup. The Songs rebuilt their house as Moon had done his, with a foundation of stones and clay
Often Moon would take young Moon-kyu up the hill to a large rock and ask him to wait while he, Moon, climbed the rock. Moon disappeared sometimes for hours. Although fidgety and curious, Moon-kyu waited as he had been told. He later learned that Moon was writing his theology. One windy day, Moon-kyu reluctantly agreed to let Big Uncle have a go of his kite. Moon-kyu, the gang leader, had tied bits of broken glass to the string, so that if it touched other kites it would cut them. Moon ran the kite right out and after some time in the strong wind it broke and blew away. The boy was heartbroken. He couldn't say anything to Big Uncle, who had been kind to him before, so he vented his anger by yelling at his gang members.
The neighbors became close. Moon-kyu's father invited Moon several times to come and have a drink with him, but Moon declined. His mother and sister sometimes helped Moon and Kim prepare and cook meals. Some years later young Moon-kyu, his father, sister and another gang member became Moon's followers.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Ok Se-hyun would come twice a week to cook for them and wash their clothes. Later she spent more time taking care of
Moon, Kim and their guests, a commitment which created more friction with her family. Aum later left the house to rejoin his family.l3
Before dawn, Moon would climb the hill to pray Sometimes he would take Kim Won-pil and ask him to stop at one spot and pray while he went to another rock to pray. Moon spent a lot of time at this place, which later became known to his followers as the 'rock of tears'
Moon's prayers in those days were always tearful. In the middle of the night, Kim would sometimes awake to the sound of Moon sobbing or singing quietly as he prayed on his knees.
Moon spent much of his time writing down the Principle. After writing several pages, he would ask Kim to read them back to him and then make corrections. When ideas came to him he would scribble them on the walls or ceiling of the house. Early one morning, he woke Kim up and asked him to light the kerosene lamp. He dictated the entire chapter about the return of Christ at one go.14
Kim Won-pil, by now, was working as a painter's assistant at an American army base. He arranged for Moon to get a one-month carpentry job on the base. One of Kim's fellow workers used to do paintings for the American troops, of wives and girlfriends and family members, from photos. One day, to repay Kim for covering for him while he moonlighted, the work-mate subcontracted Kim to do some of the portrait work.
The first order he gave me was a photo of a black girl. Until that time, I had never in my life seen a black person. Because it was a black and white photograph, I was completely at a loss about what color to tint her face in the painting. After trying really hard for four hours, I finally finished a small picture. With uncertainty, I brought the picture to work the next day, thinking that I would have succeeded if my coworker was happy with it, even though he might not think it was good enough to pay for. To my surprise, he really liked the portrait and said I was very good. He not only paid me more than I expected, but gave me more orders. Then I turned professional.15
By the time Kim arrived home from work at around six o'clock, Moon would have the paints and brushes ready. As more orders came
in, they would spend anything up to six or seven hours working on the portraits. Kim, the artist, would sketch the figure and Moon would color the clothes and fill in the background, until they were mass-producing at the rate of one every twenty-five minutes. Kim would give his earnings at the end of each month to Moon. Moon bought rice, wood, and kerosene and food for side dishes. One morning, he apologized to Kim that he had nun out of money, and meticulously reported how much he had spent on food or given as transport money to the visitors, who were coming in increasing numbers.
Years later, Kim's published talks of these experiences of his early years living in close intimacy with Moon would have a great influence on a new generation of Moon followers. One incident concerned Kim's jealousy of another follower, which became so bad that one day he refused to speak to Moon.
Over and over, Father said, "You have to speak to me, please speak to me." But I refused to answer. After Father repeated this to me over and over, in my heart I felt very sorry, but my pride prevented me from answering him. Finally, Father began to cry, pleading with me, "Please speak." Because Father was crying, I was moved and I also began to cry. Then I could speak to him.
Father listened to what I had to say and then told me, "If you have a problem or feel bad about something, don't hold it inside you for more than three hours. You must solve it within three hours."16
On May 10, 1952, Moon completed the writing of the Principle. On that same day, a twenty-five year-old Presbyterian seminarian named Kang Hyun-shil made her way up the muddy slope where Moon lived in Pomne-gol to meet him. Her intention was to convert him, but instead she was to become the first evangelist of the as-yet unnamed Unification Church.
Kang Hyun-shil, the first evangelist of the Unification Church
Miss Kang came from a strong Christian family.17 Her father was a church elder who had been jailed by the Japanese for refusing government orders to worship at a Shinto shrine. Weakened by torture, he died a few weeks after his release. Kang dedicated her life to God and, after the defeat of the Japanese, enrolled at Korea Theological Seminary
in Pusan where the founder, Rev. Han Sang-dong, had been in prison with her father. The seminary was strict and fundamentalist in its approach. She attended church in Pomil-dong.
"At that time I was crazy for Jesus. I was determined to witness until all of Korea was converted. I prayed for hours every day. Also I visited terminal TB patients in hospital, whose families would not even go close for fear of infection, and prayed and cried and embraced them to save them."18
When a member of the congregation in her church told her there was a young man teaching about the fall of man and salvation in a different way, she prayed for a week for guidance as to whether she should go to save him. On May 10, it was raining and, instead of visiting church members, she went to the church to pray. There she had an inspiration to go and see him. With some difficulty, she found Moon's ramshackle home and was invited in by Mrs. Ok. Some time later, Moon arrived. He was wearing dirty Korean-style trousers without the usual ankle ribbons, an old chestnut-colored fur jacket, rubber shoes and US army-issue socks. She thought he was a laborer.
"Hello. Where have you come from?" Moon asked."19
"I am from the Presbyterian church down in the village," she answered. "I am an evangelist." Moon put a dirty mat on the floor and invited a hesitant Kang to sit down.
"God has been giving you so much love for the last seven years," Moon said. The comment was so unexpected that it threw Kang. Instead of getting down to the business of why she was there, she found herself trying to figure out what he meant. She remembered that it was seven years since she had first dedicated her life to God.
"Today is a very special day, and you are very fortunate to be here," Moon said. He would later tell her that he had finished his manuscript earlier that day and had just returned from the hilltop, where he had been praying for God to send him disciples.
Moon began talking about the return of Christ. As he warmed to his theme, he began to speak energetically, and at such volume that the young Christian lady began to feel embarrassed. She leaned away from him against the wall and looked at his face. His eyes seemed to be blazing, and he kept taking swigs of water from a bottle.
"The messiah will come from Korea," Moon said.
"It would be a wonderful idea," Kang said. "Korea is a very poor country with so many troubles. Also, it would be so fortunate if the messiah were to come with a fleshly body like ours. But it is impossible to believe that kind of thing."
After three hours, Moon stopped. Kang, relieved, rose to leave, but Moon insisted she stay for dinner. He presented a meal of barley, sour kimchee and bean curd on a small pine table.
"Would you pray?" Moon asked before they ate. Kang, still unable to collect her thoughts after the three-hour bombardment, declined. Exhausted and irritated, she had dropped any idea of converting this heretic. Moon closed his eyes to say grace. He began a prayer of consolation to a suffering God and, as he did so, he began to cry. "I would like to solve your grief. I would like to console you. Heavenly Father, you have been longing to find someone who can fulfil your will. I want to fulfil your will and bring the world back to you."
Kang was startled. In these words, she saw a stark contrast between his attitude to God and hers. She had been praying, for hours every day, for the congregation and for Korea, but her fundamental approach was an appeal to God to help her and give her what she needed. But this strange man on the hillside was saying to God, "Don't worry, I will take care of you." She had never come across such an attitude to God. She was profoundly moved. She realized that he was the one who should be teaching her about faith, not the other way round.
"Have you said everything you want to say to me?" she asked him after they had eaten.
"If I want to really speak to you, it will take all day and all night for several days," he said. "Everything I am talking about is new."
"Then I have to come back again," Kang said.
"Even though this room is so shabby and unpresentable, I am opening this door for all mankind. I know that so many people have lost their way and don't know what to do. So many people are suffering. We have to help them. So I keep my door open twenty-four hours a day." Moon accompanied her back to her church in the dark.
Kang returned the following week and Moon explained his views on the purpose of God's creation.
On her third visit, Kang was so absorbed in Moon's talk that she stayed until 3.45 a.m., which was quite improper for a young woman
of her age in Korean society. She hurried back to her church to lead the daily 4 a.m. prayer meeting, worried that she had prepared nothing for the congregation. She addressed the meeting spontaneously and was quite taken aback when people began crying, thumping their chests and repenting their sins. The experience with Moon had filled her with inspiration and new zeal, but she could still not figure where it was leading. She asked Moon, expecting him to tell her that she should just believe what he was telling her or she would go to hell.
"Don't you want to know whether this teaching comes from God or man? You should find out," he said.
"But how can I get the answer?" she asked.
"God loves you so much. He will give you the answer," he said.
She began to pray every morning for the answer. At first, she began to have doubts about Moon. There have been a lot of theological theories through history, she thought, but nothing has really changed. This teaching is logical and reasonable, but it's probably just a passing fad. As she pursued this train of thought, she felt blocked from God, unable to pray. She developed headaches and chest pains. "This is hell," she thought. "Hell is not a place, but the lack of communication with God."
On the fourth day of this torment, a Bible verse dropped into her mind:
"If any one says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen."20
She began to repent her lack of trust in Moon and felt her heart open once again to God's spirit.
"Where have you been?" Moon asked, when she went to see him.
"Actually, I have been to hell," she replied angrily.
"What do you mean?" he asked. Kang recounted her experiences. "Before I met you, I had no problems," she said. "Everything was O.K. But now I have pains and headaches. My heart is confused and filled with troubles. I have never been unable to pray before. You have to repay me in some way for the damage you are doing me." Moon looked at her sadly. Her complaints troubled him and he went off to pray, leaving Mrs. Ok to counsel her.
"He is really a great man. God loves him so much,'' Ok said.
"Why do you always brag about him? He is just a man," Kang snapped.
"I understood who he is through a revelation from God," Ok said.
"What do you mean, a revelation from God? Did God actually speak to you?"
"Yes, I heard the voice of God talking to me," Ok said.
"What does it sound like, the voice of God?" Kang asked.
"Well, it sounds similar to a man's voice," Ok said.
"I have been a Christian for a long time, and I have never heard the voice of God. So next time you hear him, why don't you invite me," she said .
"When God speaks to a person, it is a spiritual experience for that person," said Ok. "At the time, only that person can hear it."
"I low can I hear the voice of God then?" asked Kang.
"If you throw away your selfish thoughts and pray with a sincere heart and just open yourself up to God, then he can speak to you," Ok answered.
After several days' prayer, Kang was startled to hear a loud voice saying a line from the Bible:
"But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ."21
She was in her church, alone, when she heard the voice. The verse was repeated three times. She looked around for the source of the voice, but could see no one.
"Are you going crazy?" Moon asked when she told him.
"What do you mean? I'm just trying to understand," she said.
"Don't worry," he teased her. "If you're going crazy for God, that's OK"
One day, she was sitting in the dingy house with Moon. She looked around at the walls, stained by leaks, and at the scraps of canvas covering the floor and said, "Here we are sitting in this little, dirty hut and you are talking about unifying Christianity and all religions and building God's kingdom on earth. Before you start talking about that, don't you think you should get a decent house, where you can invite people?"
"Open your Bible,a he said. "Anywhere."
Before she could see which page she had opened, he said, "It's Matthew 14.31. Read it." Amazed, she read:
"Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, 'O man of little faith, why did you doubt?'"
"Why did you doubt?" Moon repeated the lines in a loud voice. Kang felt God was talking to her.
Another day, Moon asked her to start witnessing. "You are going to meet somebody tomorrow he said.
"I cannot witness. I don't know how to teach your Principle. With the Bible it was very easy, but this is very complicated," she protested.
"Just talk," Moon said. "Say anything."
The next day, after the dawn prayer service, Kang invited Kim Je-san, the leading evangelist at her church, to her home.22 Unlike Kang, Kim Je-san had a wide experience of spiritual phenomena. When she was very young, she thought that God was like the sun and had once sneaked out of her house before dawn to meet him. The whole village came out to search for her. In her twenties, her husband once beat her for tithing to her church, and she was in a coma for three days, during which time, she said, she met angels, Saint Peter and Jesus and asked them where she could find God. For five years, she prayed from midnight to 5 a.m. for Korea's liberation from Japanese rule. She had a vision of World War Two before its outbreak and later, before the Korean War, had an experience in which Jesus appeared in front of her and told her to move her family from Seoul to Pusan. There she joined the same church as Kang Hyun-shil.
"We both believe in Jesus, but our purpose is to meet the Lord when he returns," Kang said. "Let's pray about it."
After they had prayed, Kim said she had seen three light bulbs, then three rose of Sharon flowers (the Korean national flower), and then the face of Jesus.
"This means the light will come to Korea," she announced.
The following day, they prayed together again, and Kim Je-san had another spiritual experience. In her prayer, she said, she saw Jesus beckoning her from a hilltop. She climbed up the hill and an angel appeared, holding scales on which was a pear, which turned into a sun. He appeared to be trying to tell her something. "There is only one sun," she said to the angel. "And it's in heaven. It's God. Is there another on earth?"
The angel put the sun down and led her down the hill to a house. "Perhaps Satan is trying to trick me," she thought. She opened the door a little and saw a man in the house.
"Today my prayer was not successful," she told Kang. "I saw an angel, a house and a person, but it didn't make sense."
On the third day, Kang took her to meet Moon. As she approached Moon's house, Kim said she recognized it as the one she had almost entered in her vision. She stepped inside and saw Moon in the small room, and burst into tears.
"How was it possible for you to come here?" Moon asked.
"I'm sorry?" said Kim, not catching his meaning.
"Your ancestral heritage enables you. You gave life to many people who were dead," he said.
"It was Jesus, not me," Kim said.
"You have suffered so much," Moon said, his voice thick with emotion. When she explained the recent visions which led her, Moon said that they were for Kang's, not for her own benefit. "It is so difficult for Hyun-shil to trust anything," he said.
Meanwhile, Moon learned that Kim Baek-moon, the leader of the Israel Jesus Church whose services he had attended in Seoul in 1946, had escaped to Pusan with some followers. Moon sent him a gift of rice and went to see him, but was rebuffed. Kim's large and influential following disintegrated during the war and he would later rebuild the group, although it never regained its former stature.23 Four or five of Kim's followers came to see Moon. One was Lee Kee-hwan, whom Moon had known when he was a student.24 A deeply faithful woman, she was surprised when Moon asked her to pray about him.25 That night in her prayers, she felt God telling her that he loved Moon more than the rest of mankind. When she told Moon, he said she should ask God whom he loved more, Jesus or Moon. As a devout Christian, she was reluctant to pray in such a blasphemous manner. But, recalling the answer to the first prayer, she went ahead. By way of response, she received a vision in which Jesus and Moon appeared before her, with God standing, in spirit, between them. God moved toward Moon and faded into him. On the basis of this profound experience, she became a follower.
Another of Kim Baek-moon's followers was Pak Kyong-do, one of Moon's former Sunday school charges from Seoul. He was now a translator for the US 2nd Infantry. For the next seven or eight months, Pak
was a regular visitor and sometimes stayed overnight.26 He took Moon to visit Rev. Pak Song-san, who had led the Pentecostal Church in Heuksok-dong, Seoul, and asked him if they could hold a joint revival meeting. Moon explained that, as his house was not an official church, his services were beginning to attract attention. The minister refused.
One day in Pusan, Pak Kyong-do saw an American soldier handing out leaflets, in English and Korean, inviting people to a local church. Pak stopped to talk to the man and invited him to Pomne-gol. The soldier accepted, evidently with a view to proselytize.27 He introduced himself as Clayton O. Wadsworth and said he worked in the administration of the army hospital in Pusan. With Pak interpreting, Moon spoke to him about his views on God's purpose for the creation and about the fall of man.
Ok Se-hyun urged Pak to tell the American that Moon was the Messiah. Although not convinced of the fact himself, Pak did so when Wadsworth visited Moon's home for the third time. Wadsworth visited on two more occasions, but then said he didn't want to come any more.
"Please pray about it," Pak asked.
"I don't need to," Wadsworth said. "There are many people like that in America too."28
In December 1952,Moon had a visit from a thirty-six year old Christian evangelist called Lee Yo-han. Lee was from Sonchon, a few miles from Moon's own home in North Pyong-an Province. He had attended seminary in Japan and been expelled for refusing to participate in Shinto ceremonies. He had first heard of Moon four years earlier, in October 1948, when he was in Seoul and Moon was in prison in Hungnam. Some of Moon's followers, including Mrs. Ok, had come to Seoul and talked about the young preacher, who said that all churches should become united.29
Lee Yo-Han, who joined Moon in Pusan
When the Korean War broke out, Lee went with a group of Presbyterian refugees to Pusan and later to Cheju, a large island between Japan and Korea. Lee tried to persuade fellow Christians that belief in salvation was not enough. "We should use the Bible to develop our personality and overcome our fallen nature and bad habits," he said.30 It was also his view that they were living in the last Days, the prophesied time of the return of Christ, and that Christ would return as a man. For this, Lee was denounced from the pulpit, in front of four hundred refugee worshippers, as a heretic. One of his Christian neighbors
noticed that the pages of Lee's Bible were heavily underlined, which was unusual. He was also considered strange because he prayed with his eyes open. The neighbor wondered if Lee was a Communist, but was stopped from reporting him to the police by his wife.31 The peril of such a suspicion should not be underestimated. Cheju Island had been the site of the worst anti-Communist brutality in modem Korean history, when a popular, Communist led rebellion broke out in 1948 and was mercilessly suppressed. By various estimates, from ten to twenty-five per cent of the island's three hundred thousand inhabitants were killed by police and militias of anti-Communist youth groups from north Korea.
In September 1952, Lee returned to Pusan, and formed a group with Christians who had received revelations about the return of Christ. In November, he met Mrs. Ok, who told him again about Moon. She said he was teaching about the Last Days and that his services were very inspired. The day he came to Pomne-gol, Lee was given some money by Moon and asked to go out and buy some groceries.32 Given customary Korean sensitivities about status, Lee might have taken offence and walked out, there and then. After all, he was an evangelist with followers of his own, not an errand boy. But, if Lee felt any slight, he did not let it get in the way of his reason for visiting Moon. What would later be interpreted by other Unificationists as a 'test' of his humility was, for the self-effacing Lee himself, probably no more than what it was -- a request to buy groceries.
Lee was inspired by Moon's talks on the fall of man and the life of Jesus. But it was his teaching on the patterns of God's providential history that convinced him it was true. He joined and moved in with Moon.
He was struck by Moon's uncanny insight and even detailed knowledge of a person's past.
"You refused to worship at the Shinto shrine, didn't you?" Moon asked one day.
"Yes. I was kicked out of the seminary for it. How did you know?" Lee asked. If it was because Mrs. Ok had told him, Moon didn't say. Lee assumed God had told him.
Moon now faced a new, and painfully personal, struggle from an unexpected source -- his family. In November 1952, he finally found his wife, Choi Sun-kil, again. She had never given up hope that they would be reunited, and had remained faithful during the years of separation
caused by prison and war. But, tragically, her agony was not over.
Their first meeting set the tone of what was to follow. She had met one of Moon's cousins and been given the address of the Pomne-gol house. One day, she stormed in angrily, while he was talking with some followers, among them Mrs. Ok and Kang Hyun-shil.33 Choi was wearing purple trousers, a gray sweater and sports shoes. Their son Sung-jin, who was by now six years old, was dressed in baggy trousers and a multi-colored striped shirt.
"You're alive," she yelled. "Why didn't you say anything for all these years? I've suffered so much. I had to eat barley and give the good rice to the baby, and take care of him as well as I could." Moon sat there, saying nothing. Slowly, the others in the room stood up and left.
Mrs. Choi had been working in the international market in Pusan.34 When Moon had left for north Korea, his company had paid his salary to her for three months, and then stopped the payments. After that, she worked in Seoul's Dongdaemoon market, selling fruit and other items. She had tried several times to go to north Korea to join Moon, but had been stopped at the border by Soviet soldiers. In 1946, she was grabbed by south Korean border guards who, suspecting she might be a Communist, detained her and tortured her with cigarette butts before letting her go.35
She moved in to the Pomne-gol house, but was unable to find time alone with her husband, and rebuild their relationship, and unburden herself of the painful loneliness and bitterness of the last few years. People were there, all the time, even at night. Kim Won-pil was so innocent and unworldly that it did not occur to him that Moon and his wife might like to spend their nights alone. In later talks with Unificationists about this period, Kim would anguish over his ignorance, partially blaming himself for the failure of the marriage. Moon, he has explained, could not ask him to leave, nor ask other followers to give him free time to be with his family, because it would have meant putting himself before his followers' spiritual needs. It was therefore Kim's own responsibility to leave and perhaps find lodgings elsewhere. This he failed to do.36
Choi's past resentment soon began to be replaced by annoyance at Moon's present life as a pastor. educated and capable, he would have been able, even in wartime Korea, to find work which would bring in more money and enable them to build a normal life together. Why was
he choosing to live in poverty, and keeping his door open to so many people? She could not understand. Every day, it seemed, she would burst into fits of yelling. Moon would try to reason with her.
Don't you remember I told you when we were engaged that you should be prepared to spend seven years alone and then marry me?" he said.37 "I told you that you would need to be able to find work and make money, in case something happened to me. So why are you behaving like this now? It turned out as I said it would."
Moon had known that his wife, in the context of her spiritual role as eventual co-leader with him of the messianic movement, would be put through an arduous course of spiritual suffering by God. He understood this would be a seven-year period. But his pleas did little to calm her. The friction became so intense that Moon left his wife in Pomne-gol and moved to another part of the city, called Sujong-dong, in order that he could continue his teaching.
On March 14, 1953, Kang Hyun-shil, who was staying in her home town, Kimchon, North Kyongsang Province, turned up at the house in Pomne-gol. Moon had written to invite her to celebrate his birthday. In his letter, he had described the current difficulties with his wife as being a 'family crucifixion.' Kang had been unable to arrange the money for the fare and missed the birthday.38 She arrived at the train station late at night, and police stamped her hand with authorization to be out after curfew.39 As she did not know the exact location of the new house in Sujong-dong, she went to Pomne-gol, where Moon's wife and child were alone. Moon's wife pounced on her.
"Where did you hide my husband?" she demanded, swearing at her. An embarrassed Kang spent the night in a tent which had been erected beside the house for use as the kitchen It was bitterly cold and she sat up all night, pummeling her legs to keep warm. At 4.30 a.m., she left, lugging two suitcases.
When she stepped off the bus at Sujong-dong, she was stopped by police, who thought that she might be a north Korean agent. The men took her to a police station and searched her luggage. Kang slipped the letter with Moon's address into her sock. After she showed them her seminary identity card, they let her go.
At about 10 a.m., Kang saw Lee Yo-han on his way out to evangelize. He told her Moon had left the house at 4 a.m. to go to a nearby hill to pray.
In the late afternoon, Moon's wife and child arrived with Ok Se-hyun's son, the military policeman who had refused to let Moon and his companions on his truck during the evacuation of Pyongyang. He had two colleagues with him. They pushed Kang inside the house. Moon's wife cursed her.
"You said you didn't know where he was," she yelled. She ripped up Moon's Bible and started hurling the crockery and cutlery against the walls. The police agents stood and watched. Outside a crowd of onlookers gathered.
"I'll kill you, you bitch!" she screamed at Kang, who, as the only other young woman there, had become the target of Choi's attack.
"Excuse me, I think I need to go to the toilet," Kang said. A gentle and inoffensive woman, she thought it would be prudent to disappear. She slipped out of the house and down the street, where she met Mrs. Ok and Kim Won-pil, who was on his way back from work.
"We have to get the money before they find it," Kim said. His wages were hidden in the beams of the house. It was a reasonable fear that if the money were discovered, Moon's wife would claim it as her own, or the policeman would simply pocket it. But the police blocked them from entering their home, and the three of them went to stay oven1ight with a friend in the Yongju-dong district of the city.
Moon, meanwhile, had been watching the scene from the hillside. After some time, he could see that it would not be resolved until he showed up himself. He walked down to the house. When she saw him, his wife began screaming and cursing, startling the crowd in the street with her vulgar language. The police led him away. One follower, a Mrs. Song, accompanied him."40 By fortunate coincidence, Kim Won-dok, his former cell-mate in north Korea and whose house he had stayed at earlier in Pusan, was working at the police station, and was able to secure his release the following day.
Mrs. Ok, Mrs. Song, Lee Yo-han, Kim Won-pil and Kang Hyun-shil returned the next day to the Sujong-dong house.
"Quickly. Hide," Moon said to Kang, as soon as he saw her. "If she sees you, she'll start again." But she was too slow. Moon's wife came out, saw her and thumped her on the arm. Kang ran off and hid in a nearby barley field.
Inside, Moon and his followers tried to reason with his distraught wife. They talked for several hours. Moon tried to explain that he was
not just behaving selfishly in wanting to teach his followers. She had great difficulty understanding. Because they had married before Moon had shared his theology with anyone and before he had started his religious ministry, she had no idea what he was teaching these people about, nor of his conviction that he had a providential mission given by God.
"I am not just doing what 1 want to, and acting humanistically. I am working for God's will," he said. "Just live with me and don't try to stop my work, and 1 will take care of you and do everything for you." She agreed.
"Now you should apologize to Mrs. Ok," he said. She said she was sorry for having become angry and rude.
Kim Won-pil, who had taken the day off work because of the crisis, came out to find Kang.
"It's all right. She's repented. You can come in," he said.
"What do you mean she's repented? I don't want to go in there." Kang was reluctant at first, but she relented and stepped nervously into the house.
"You should say you are sorry to Kang Hyun-shil, " Moon said to his wife.
"I've already said it once. Do I have to say it to everyone?" she grumbled.
"Yes," Moon said. His wife looked over at Kang.
"I'm sorry. I was wrong," she said.
"From now on, please live in harmony and be like older and younger sister together," Moon said to the two women. Then he prayed and everyone, including his wife, cried. A few days later, Moon's wife went to Seoul to collect her belongings. When she returned, they bought a house in Sujong-dong where the group lived communally.
However, Sun-kil's struggle was far from over She never attended Moon's worship services, nor did she sit in on his talks to members or show any interest in the Principle. As a result, she could never figure out why people kept coming.
"Why do so many people like my husband?" she said on several occasions. "He's my husband."
It was clear to the followers that she loved Moon with a passion. But, as long as she tried to dissuade him from continuing his religious work, he appeared to keep her at arm's length. The followers noticed
that he did not treat her especially as his wife in front of them. In fact, he treated her like everyone else, which added to her frustration and jealousy.
"Why do you follow my husband?" she demanded of Kang Hyun shil, throwing sticks of firewood at the door. Kang sat in the kitchen, saying nothing and thinking the womal1 was raving mad. After each outburst, she would apologize.
At this time, Moon was also being hounded by the brother of a recent convert, Kim Song-shil. She was a relative of the Pyongyang Kims, including Kim Won-pil, who had been the main followers in north Korea, and her father-in-law was a prominent educator.41 Her brother believed that Moon had wrecked his family and was determined to have him arrested, and his work stopped. The pressure from the families of followers, and from Christian officials, which began in Pyongyang, was to gain momentum through the 1950s with the rapid growth of Moon's following in south Korea.
In March 1953, Moon formally changed his name from Yong-myung to Sun-myung. According to Pak Chong-hwa, who actually did the paperwork for Moon's identity documents, the main reason for the name change was because Christians could use the name Yong, which means 'dragon', as evidence that Moon was the antichrist. A more practical reason for the timing may have been to try to avoid the families of members, who were pestering the police to arrest him.42
Around this time, two of the women who had attended Moon's services in Pyongyang, Chi Seung-do and Chong Dal-ok, rejoined him.43 Another visitor was Moon's cousin, Seung-gyun, who was now married, and had learned from his brother-in-law that Moon was in the city.44 At Moon's suggestion, Seung-gyun worked with Kim Won-pil as a sign-painter at the US 8th Army's 8069 unit, where UN soldiers arriving in Korea were briefed and kitted out before being sent to the front. The two men lived at the base during the week. At weekends, Kim would return to the Sujong-dong house.
Kim explained to him about Moon's teaching, and the two men would go to the Yongnak Church, a Presbyterian church established by refugees from north-west Korea. Seung-gun was convinced his cousin was a heretic. He recalled his father's prediction that Sun-myung would either be a great man or a traitor. It was true: Sun-myung had become a traitor to Christianity. He kept his concern to himself. Nevertheless,
when he visited, he would be inspired by his cousin's wisdom.
"You know, in studying the Bible, you have to look at the alpha and the omega," Moon told Seung-gyun. "Otherwise it's impossible to interpret the meaning. People try to untie knots in the middle but it doesn't work. You have to go from Genesis to Revelation."
Moon talked about his vision of the future. The world, he said, would be unified by the Principle, centering on Korea, Japan, America and Germany. "We have to learn English," Moon said, telling his cousin that it would take five years to become proficient in the language.
As his cousin spoke, usually for four or five hours at a stretch, Seung-gyun was reminded of the claim of Cha Sang-soon, the follower from Pyongyang who had visited Moon's family in the village, years earlier, that Moon was the returned Christ.
"It's impossible," thought Seung-gyun. "He's my big brother."45 As Moon talked of unifying the world, Seung-gyun remembered their exploits as children. A thoughtful and practical man, Seung-gyun did not reject the idea outright as preposterous or blasphemous. He considered it over a period of time, before making his mind up and becoming a follower. From his study of the Principle, he came to believe that, contrary to what he had been taught as a Christian, the Christ would have to return in the flesh.
"Where is the law that says your big brother can't be the second coming of Christ" he asked himself.46
By now it must have become apparent to Moon that there was little likelihood of his wife assuming the role he expected. But he kept his agony of his failing marriage to himself. In September, 1953, he moved to Seoul and she stayed in Pusan. In her jealous rages, Sun-kil had accused him of adultery with his female followers, which, had it been proven true, would have resulted in his arrest.47 She later took out divorce proceedings and the marriage was legally ended in 1958.
In the summer of 1953, the international peace talks, which had dragged on for months, finally produced a truce. An armistice was signed on July 27. The Korean War was over - well, almost over, for the South had refused to be a party to the armistice. Furthermore, the rival governments of Kim Il-sung in the North and Syngman Rhee in the South remained intact, which meant that the hot war had merely entered a period of cold war. The terrible conflict had cemented the division of North and South with a bitterness that would last for decades.
In July, just before the truce, Moon told Kang Hyun-shil he wanted her to go, by herself, to Taegu, a city sixty miles north of Pusan, to teach the Principle. He explained that, as it was the strongest Christian center in south Korea, there would be many people ready to hear God's word. Unlike previous requests to followers to spread the word, this marked a new form of evangelizing.
"You must go for forty days," he said. "Make it forty days exactly. If you come back after thirty-nine days, I won't open the door for you. You have to endure for forty days." One of the members gave Kang two sets of extra clothes, but Moon took one set away, saying, "One is enough." He gave her enough money for a one-way train ticket and only two kilos of rice.
"You will have many lonely and hard times," he advised her. "But whenever you pray and whenever you call on God, he will be there to help you with his love."
She left on July 20. Moon prayed with her before she went: "Please, Father, be with this little daughter, who goes out now, and help her to establish a good foundation in Taegu."
As she walked down the hill from the house, Kang looked back. Moon was standing there, watching her, his eyes filled with tears. To Kang, the thin, poorly dressed figure of Moon looked so miserable and sad. How sad it was that he had so few people, that he had to rely on someone as inexperienced as her, she thought, her heart breaking.
In August, Moon sent Lee Yo-han to join her in Taegu and their small following started to expand rapidly. During this time, an elderly woman in the Taegu group, Lee Jae-gun, was asked by a Christian which church she belonged to.
"The Unification Church," she said, making the name up on the spot.
In the following year, Moon chose as a legal title for his group, the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity.48 In creating his association, Moon still hoped that the Principle and his growing following would serve to renew, and have a unifying effect on, Christianity I he did not expect it to be identified as a separate denomination. But, in effect, that is what it became for, not surprisingly, the informal name stuck.
Reverend Sun Myung Moon with early followers. Moon top left, Eu Won-hyo top right, Kim Won-pil bottom center (HSA-UWC Seoul)
Myung Moon conducts an out-door worship service in South Korea in the early 1950s. (HSA-UWC Seoul)
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