The Words of the Park Family
During the interview. Left to right: Rev. Byung Ho Kim, Tamara Grapek, Dr. Dae Sik Bae, and Dr. Sang Yong Park
Professor Sang Yong Park, Ph.D., professor of English and Literature at Hoseo College, has been involved with PWPA for several years. This was his first time as a participant of the tour.
Professor Dae Sik Bae, Ph.D., is a professor of animal reproduction at Chungbuk National University and has returned twice to lead other groups of professors on the tours.
Question: What are your personal reasons for coming on this tour?
Dr. Park: I've been a member of PWPA and the International Christian Professors Academy for about two or three years. Therefore, I knew all about the Unification Church's activities in Korea, but I knew only a little about your activities in the United States. The Protestants in Korea are very afraid of the Unification Church and Rev. Moon.
I wondered why -- and my curiosity was a strong motivation for me to find out what Rev. Moon is doing in America. I wanted to witness it with my own eyes. Seeing is believing!
Dr. Bae: I have come for the third time, and now I'm helping to guide the tour. I am a Unification Church member.
Question: Before your involvement with I our movement, were either of you involved with any kind of patriotic or anticommunist work?
Dr. Park: Actually, in 1945 I worked as a librarian for what is now called the American Cultural Center, formerly the United States Information Center. My job was to educate people about democracy and promote a true cultural movement against communism. That experience brought me a clear, firm conviction to stand against communism. In 1958 I became a professor at Choong Nam National University, where I perfected my ideals through studying American literature and culture. I can tell you also that as a literary man I cannot accept communism because it always suppresses the arts. In 1979 I was invited by the State Department of the United States to visit many organizations and universities as a participant in the American Studies Program. I helped staff the American Studies Institute at National University. In 1982 and 1983 I was invited by Western Michigan University to be a visiting professor. Therefore, I have been against communism most of my life. My view cannot be changed!
Question: What has impressed you most about this tour?
Dr. Park: First of all, this program is very large-scale. It is a big job to invite so many Korean professors here. No one else can do this. Secondly, it is well- organized. Even in this short time I have come to understand the real picture of your activities in America. Personally, I felt the warm hospitality of the Unification people here. They were so kind, cooperative, and sincere. Even though they had their own work to do, they were so willing to help take care of the visiting professors.
Dr. Bae: Even though it was a very short time, because the presentations by Unification Church leaders were very well-organized and good, I was very moved. When the professors first heard about Rev. Moon's idea for the reunification of Korea, they were, for the most part, pretty suspicious and critical. But after coming to America they have begun to realize that the reunification of Korea is not just a dream; it is coming closer to a reality. They are realizing how much Rev. Moon's activity can influence American society, and also Korea. They feel the Unification movement is not a movement that can be easily stopped.
Question: What kinds of response do you get from your friends and other professors?
Dr. Park: When the professors first started to come on these tours, their friends and relatives wondered greatly about it. But now that the number of people coming is much bigger, such feelings of suspicion are already disappearing.
Dr. Bae: When some of us were preparing to leave, we actually received letters from unknown people warning us that if we participated in this tour, we would get into trouble. In the southern and western parts of Korea, the students really opposed the professors and intimidated many of them into not coming.
Question: After being on this tour, do you have a feeling now that Korea and America must work together with the guidance of Rev. Moon for the sake of the world?
Dr. Park: Of course!
Dr. Bae: Not only just America and Korea, but Japan, China, and all other nations must work for world peace.
Korean children in traditional dress in their family courtyard
Question: How do you think our movement has thus far been able to influence the social and political atmosphere in Korea?
Dr. Bae: In recent years people all over the country have been longing for democratization. Even the leftists are saying that we must democratize Korea.
Through this issue particularly, they are trying to confuse the Korean society. As you know, the communist way of thinking is that the workers must unite and bring a revolution.
They are now manipulating the labor forces. But there is a big difference between the communist idea of peace and the people's real desire for peace. We must recognize motives. Before the elections in December last year, the leftist students were agitating for democracy and getting a lot of support. But many students started asking, "Why should there only be a leftist student movement? Why can't there also be a more conservative student movement?" While the government was struggling with the country's social problems, the professors connected with our church began to expose the leftists and proclaim which student movement was really good for the country. Therefore, as a result of our work, the country is changing. The Korean government understands what we are doing and feels grateful to the Unification Church.
Somehow these professors have brought about the right climate for a reunification movement. Thus, I don't want to say that this is a situation where religion is involved with politics -- we believe in the principle of separation of church and state just as you do in America -- but here they have influenced each other very much in a good way.
Question: We hear a lot about the student uprisings. Have Korean citizens in general been affected by these incidents?
Dr. Bae: Leftist students are very few in number, only three to five percent. They cannot actually influence all the other students. Most students just watch what the leftists are doing. The leftists are using violence now like terrorists, so most students keep their distance. The citizens, too, are worried about this use of violence and becoming more distant from these leftists.
Dr. Park: After President Roh's political statement of June 29, 1987,* as the political atmosphere changed and the government moved toward democracy, the leftist students lost their main issue. So they brought up another issue: the reunion of North and South Korea. Students in general supported this new issue, but as leftist activity became more violent, the students saw that their way was not the way of democracy and that they could not really support it.
Question: North Korea is trying to bring unification centered on Kim Il Sung. How are the Korean people reacting to this?
Dr. Bae: Of course, Kim Il Sung has been preparing to bring about the reunification of Korea for 40 years. He talks a lot about democracy and reunification, but his purpose always corresponds to the worldwide communist plan.
Dr. Park: Unfortunately, these ideas from North Korea are influencing the leftist students. We can recognize this because they are insisting on reunification before anything else -- in other words, they want to make one nation first, no matter what, and then they will talk about bringing peace. But our way is different. We are trying to introduce an ideology that we can share, and we are trying to gradually develop our relationship with the North Koreans in a creative way, such as an exchange of culture or sports. Eventually we can overcome the barriers of ideology and bring reunion on a political level.
Dr. Bae: Kim Il Sung has formed his own communist ideology, calling it "juche" thought, or "self-reliance." By this, Kim Il Sung means that Koreans should handle everything themselves, without the Soviet Union, or Japan, or the United States. Thus, Kim Il Sung is promoting a kind of nationalistic pride. It is a reaction against anything remaining from the time of the Japanese domination of Korea. They want to remove all traces of Japanese influence.
They want to do away with all American influences, too.
Dr. Bae: North Korea is influencing the leftists to demand that the United States army pull out of South Korea. Their purpose, after making the United States army leave, is to come down into South Korea and then, centering on this "self-reliant" ideology, bring about the unification of Korea. This is their strategy.
Question: Do you hear any propaganda from North Korea about Rev. Moon?
Dr. Bae: We cannot directly hear their propaganda, but we hear it through the leftist students' movement, or through the media in Japan or America. We know that North Korea is really against Rev. Moon, and that Rev. Moon is one of their top targets.
Since they do not understand Rev. Moon's ideology, naturally they oppose him. Therefore, first of all, we professors have to study Rev. Moon's ideas thoroughly, particularly Godism. And when we meet together with the North Koreans, I think we can somehow change their thinking.
Question: Do the Korean people expect that the Olympics are going to change Korea for the better?
Dr. Park: Through the Olympic Games there are many benefits we expect to gain. Korea can become well- known all over the world. Our economy can benefit, and our culture can also be enriched.
More than just a sports event, the Olympics is a kind of celebration for world peace. One hundred sixty-one nations are participating, except for North Korea and Cuba -- and we are trying to bring them, too.
The professors enjoy the warm hospitality at East Garden -- and individual entertainment
Question: Many Unification Church members want to go to Korea to help the country, but we don't have a clear idea yet of what we can do. Do you have any idea what our church members could do if we go to Korea?
Dr. Bae: Your coming can help very much. So far, in whatever they tried to do, the Korean Unification Church members have been opposed by the Korean established churches. But if foreign Unificationists come and try to get the religious groups to work together, the churches will be more willing to listen to and accept them.
Dr. Park: Particularly the Protestants are spreading negative rumors about Rev. Moon. Because of this, many Koreans have become suspicious about the Unification Church. Now, however, many people are beginning to recognize what Rev. Moon is doing in America and abroad, and they believe that Rev. Moon is a great international leader. He is somehow mysterious to them.
I believe that in trying to bring unity with the established churches, the Unification Church will probably have difficulties to overcome, but it is nevertheless on the right path.
Question: What do you think is the reason why Korean people in general seem to be so attracted to America?
Dr. Bae: Most Koreans feel we can learn a lot from American culture, but the important thing is that we already have similar ideas concerning peace and democracy. Koreans know they need to work together with Americans to overcome our difficulties, particularly to bring peace to our country.
The professors feel that America should take more responsibility to keep peace in the world and create a unified bloc so that democracy can spread for the sake of the world. That's why they are interested in coming to America.
Dr. Park: In this age of modern scientific technology, our universities, professors, and students must be equipped with new know-how. We need the scientific knowledge that America has, especially for our young people. They are the pillars of our country. We are standing behind them, but were getting older day by day. I firmly believe that America should be involved with Korea in the fields of culture, science, and technology. A trend is growing now in which Korean graduate students want to study in American colleges and universities. Our professors and students can greatly benefit from education that is offered in the United States.
As Professor Bae expressed, we want America and Korea to work together to bring world peace and to stand against communism. We must create everlasting peace; otherwise we will be destroyed by communism.
Every nation and every race always tries to keep its own roots -- its family system or cultural life, even if it is a primitive one. In every corner of Korean society, we try to keep the root of our culture. Korea has a strong, stable family system, based on the teachings of Confucianism. It is only the radical leftists and communists who neglect that root. They know that our typical way of life, with its beautiful cultural and family traditions, is a hindrance to them; if we keep this way of life, they cannot fight. Mao didn't want to allow Confucianism in China.
Now North Korea wants to destroy this system also in Korea.
Question: As Korea is becoming more modern, do you see Koreans abandoning many of their traditional values?
Dr. Bae: Korea is becoming more developed and industrialized through the influence of Western countries, and modern culture and scientific development have brought some changes that have upset our society. It may seem as if we were losing our traditional Korean values, but that isn't actually true. While Korea is modernizing, an atmosphere of materialism also has developed naturally. But now Koreans feel that Korea has already modernized as much as necessary and are rejecting the materialistic way of Western culture. They feel that Korea must preserve its own Oriental way, its culture, its soul. Korea is in an "in between" stage, becoming more interested in keeping its own traditional ways.
The communists promote a materialism without God. This kind of thinking is also making the Korean people think more about saving their own Oriental culture.
Communists always try to destroy the cultural history and family system of a society. Therefore it is important that we maintain strong stable families, based on the teachings of Confucianism.
Before the professors came to America, they promised that when they return, they will each take responsibility in a village, town, or district. They are becoming leaders and are working to develop this movement for the sake of the nation. Now because of the new CFUF movement, headed by these professors, Koreans are beginning to realize we must have a movement with an ideology that can train people in a principled way.
* This was a famous speech Roh Tae Woo gave while running for president. In this speech he promised to initiate such democratic reforms as the direct election of the president. He also said that his government would listen to the demands of the students.