The Words of Won Pil Kim

From Pyongyang to Pusan

Won Pil Kim
April 1983

In 1971, Rev. Won Pil Kim and several members retraced part of Father's route from Pyongyang to Pusan

Father was released from Hungnam prison on October 14, 1950. His home village was only a three-day walk from Pyongyang, and Father could easily have visited his family. Instead, he contacted all the members who had been with him before he was taken to prison. If he was unable to visit them personally, he at least sent someone on his behalf to meet with them.

Father brought with him a few things from prison, among them a small bag of rice. Of everything he could have brought, food was the most precious present, because food meant life. After two years and eight months in prison, he was weak and malnourished. It took him ten days to walk from Hungnam, on the northeast coast of Korea to Pyongyang, near the west coast. During those ten days, he could find no good food to eat; any crops left in the fields were old and spoiled. Yet he ate those rotten, leftover crops, saving the precious rice flour to share with the members in Pyongyang.

I had been staying with a spiritualist who used to prepare food and send it to Father in prison. She came from a whole family of pious Christians, and she was the best member of Father's group. While awaiting his return, she lived with her mother, mother-in-law, and a little daughter, attending to their needs.

Upon arriving in Pusan, Father did not immediately visit his members, but stayed with his mother's sister. He sent one of his prison disciples to inform me of his liberation and tell me where he was staying. We should have set up the condition to receive Father again and welcome him, but we were not so prepared.

Poor health and ragged clothing

I went to see Father, and he returned with me to the lady's house. Then I went to tell the other members that Father had returned. Externally, Father looked the same as before he went to prison, but because of the hardships of prison life, his physical health was poor. He coughed continuously; each time he coughed the phlegm left a bitter taste in his mouth.

During the war, everyone had suffered from hunger, since there was never enough food. When we did have food to eat, sometimes it went down so quickly that it rattled in our throats. If a famished person eats very rapidly, the noise he makes is sometimes scary. I noticed this as I was eating with Father, and it gave me a feeling for how extremely hungry he must have been. Many Koreans experienced this type of thing and can understand exactly what I mean.

The clothes Father was wearing upon his arrival in Pyongyang were the same ones which the members had given him the first time in prison. Over the months and years, these clothes had become torn and ragged, but Father mended them many times over. Usually Korean clothes for cold weather are made of two layers, with cotton padding in between for warmth. As his clothes wore out, Father stuffed small pieces of cloth between the layers. Even pieces of cloth too small or too rotten to use, he saved and stuffed in his clothes. Father never threw away worn-out clothes, but made old and worthless things useful as substitutes for cotton padding. These clothes, sewn and resewn by Father's own hands, were what he was wearing when we met him.

Rice cakes for the members

We should have welcomed Father when he returned from prison and made everything ready for him. Even as he was walking down the road, we should have been preparing for his arrival. Instead, Father prepared for us. He brought his precious rice powder -- which was like life itself -- to share with us.

Father gathered some members together and mixed the rice powder with water, making something like a thick pudding. He got out a big pan and using chopsticks which he himself made in prison, cooked rice cakes for the members. In Korea, people make rice cakes for special celebrations, and as he cooked the rice cakes, Father explained to us that even the prisoners also celebrated with rice cakes. One by one, he passed these cakes out to us.

This gift came from Father's deep love for his members. It is indeed difficult for children to understand the depth of parental love. But whenever small opportunities to help us understand it come our way, we should magnify them and make a desperate effort to understand this parental heart.

Song of liberation

Seven days after leaving prison, Father wrote the words to one of our holy songs, set to the tune of a simple traditional Korean song. The words of the song express Father's strong determination and gratitude for God's goodness. When you listen to the words of this song, "Blessing of Glory," you can understand Father's grateful heart.

Now the light of glory arises
like the sun that shines on high;
Now awaken into freedom,
O revive, you spirits, o revive!
Wake the mountains and the valleys;
bring alive the springs of the earth.
Light the world forever
with the Light of your rebirth.
Light the world forever
with the Light of your rebirth.

We are called to bring back the glory
to the life of God above;
Now the Lord in his greatness
fills the universe with tender love,
Ever seeking souls awakened,
ever calling them to be free.
How shall I attend Him
who is calling to me?
How shall I attend Him
who is calling to me?

From the dark of death I awaken
and rejoice to live in grace;
When the one who came to save me
holds me tenderly in his embrace,
I rejoice to feel the comfort
of the love He has for me.
What a blessing of Glory,
to rejoice eternally!

What a blessing of Glory,
to rejoice eternally!
Now He lifts me up to embrace me
in the blessing that is mine;
What a blessing to receive Him
in a love so tender and divine,
How can I return the Blessing?
Tho' in all my life I will try,
I can never stop feeling
how unworthy am I.
I can never stop feeling
how unworthy am I.

This poem is the song which Father sang in front of God. This song is not just for us, but Father wrote it for God. After the difficult circumstances in prison and throughout the dangers that confronted him during his escape, he was always thinking about God, expressing his faith in God and his undying gratitude to Him. Father has an unchanging heart; his heart today is the same as his heart during that very difficult journey.

Visiting members for 40 days

Even in prison, Father knew that members were falling away from the church; still he prayed continuously for each one, three times a day. But just to pray for them was not enough; he wanted to visit each of them, talk with them, let them know that he had returned safely from prison.

He felt so responsible for each person, because he knew that they had pledged before God to remain faithful and continue in this way of life. Because of that sense of responsibility, he yearned to visit each one at that time. He felt the reason they had strayed from the church was because he had been cast into prison and had been unable to take care of them directly. If he could meet them and take care of them, he was sure they could return.

At first, Father stayed with me at the house of the old spiritualist lady, but when her family returned from the South, there was no longer any room for us. So we moved into a deserted house, lacking either a kitchen or stove. During those cold nights in late November, we had only one very thin blanket, which we shared. Father had not yet recovered from the fatigue and hunger of his prison years, but there was no other place for him to stay.

Although the situation in Pyongyang became worse and worse, Father remained until the last possible moment, visiting members. He could have visited his family, but he had to see his Cains. He had lost many of them, and he wanted to connect with each one.

One former member whom Father found ridiculed him and asked him, "Do you still keep this faith? Do you still believe in religion?"

Sometimes I visited the members on Father's behalf. One man praised my unchanging attitude toward Father, but explained that although he wanted to come, his difficult family situation prevented him from doing so.

In such situations, I would bring the members a letter from Father. One man, however, refused to accept or read the letter, handing it back to me without opening it. So I returned the letter to Father.

There was one Christian group which had been preparing for the Lord of the Second Coming, known as the Inside Belly Church. The leader of that group had been sent to prison; most of the members had been sentenced to hard labor in the coal mines or were killed by the communists. However, there were some members remaining in Pyongyang who still believed that their leaders would resurrect and return to work with them. These members were so sad and miserable at the loss of their leaders and really believed that those leaders would return.

Father sent me to the core leader of the church and invited him to visit Father. Feeling very responsible for that church, Father wanted to make contact with this religious group and bring one of its members south with him. One leader did come, but the situation was very chaotic and he was unable to get together with Father.

Thus Father was fulfilling his responsibility not only toward his own members, but to another church as well.

Finding Mr. Pak

One of Father's disciples from prison, Mr. Pak [Chung Hwa Pak], had been liberated at the very beginning of the Korean War and returned to his home village near Pyongyang. However, he was received with persecution and beatings, because before the Korean War he had been a communist. After World War II, the communists began taking over North Korea, but as the United Nations forces began pushing north, the situation reversed and communists were being made to suffer. Mr. Pak's leg was broken in the course of the beatings.

Since it was too dangerous to remain in his home town, Mr. Pak came to Pyongyang, to stay with his younger sister. Father remembered that Mr. Pak had told him he would be at his younger sister's house, so he sent me to look for him.

Mr. Pak thought Father would have been released from prison by then and would have contacted him. He had promised always to follow Father and he felt some resentment at not hearing from him. When I arrived, Mr. Pak was overjoyed; he said he had cried for many nights, thinking how untrustworthy this world was. I put him in a wheelbarrow and took him to see Father.

On November 26, Red China joined forces with the North Koreans. Red Chinese troops poured across the Yalu River (the northern border of Korea) and were heading towards Pyongyang. Government officials and policemen were given instructions to try to evacuate all the population. Most people left on December 3.

People fled for their lives, leaving relatives behind. As soon as they heard the official announcement, they headed south, many without even returning home to pack their things. Men especially were taking refuge, often leaving the women and old people at home, thinking that they would have a better chance for survival. Everyone assumed that the U.N. forces could easily win the war and that their evacuation was only temporary. (Thirty three years have passed, and there has been no return.)

Mr. Pak's relatives took off that day, leaving him behind, because they thought that with his broken leg, he would be unable to manage the trip. His sister's family left him an old second-hand bicycle to help him get around. Abandoned on that terrible and confused day, Mr. Pak wondered what had happened to Father. He told me how sad he felt at being left behind, since he supposed that Father also must have already left.

However, Father sent me to get him, and I placed him on the bicycle and brought him to our place.

The very last visit

One person still remained to he contacted, an old grandmother about 80 years old. She had first met Father when she was around 76. In age, Father could have been her son or grandson, but she was so filled with love of him that her biggest desire was just to touch his garment. She believed without a doubt that he was the messiah.

It was difficult to locate her, but finally I did. She was ill and close to dying. Since she was a little senile, as well as hard of hearing, I had to yell at her in order to make her understand that Father had returned. Hearing that, she was satisfied. Then I returned to Father with the word that she knew of his return.

Father stood up and said this concluded his business in Pyongyang, and it was time for us to start south. That very moment, we prepared to leave. It was the evening of December 4, and most of the people who wanted to go south had already left.

Our journey begins

Father placed Mr. Pak on the bicycle and tied some little packages to the back of the bicycle. Because Mr. Pak had a broken leg, he could not pedal, so Father pushed from the back and Mr. Pak steered. Bicycles 33 years ago were nothing like they are today; this one had only a simple, flimsy frame. A heavy knapsack on my back contained the rest of our supplies.

As we left Pyongyang that night, the city seemed to be totally on fire, because of the many secret, confidential documents being burned. As Father looked around, he cried to see the condition of Pyongyang. The Chinese and North Korean armies were advancing rapidly from behind, and the journey was very uncertain and frightening.

The main highway south was completely occupied by military troops and vehicles. Our course took us through the mountains and rivers and valleys. There were some national roads made of concrete, but the others were just rough earth. Since the main roads were closed to civilian traffic, we had to take to the hills and roadless countryside, looking for mountain paths and animal tracks to guide us along our way. Other people were able to move rapidly, as they were taking practically nothing with them, but we had started almost too late, and besides, we were pushing a person with a broken leg on a bicycle. There was always the possibility of being captured or hit by a stray artillery shell.

Taking along a person with a broken leg, Father was risking his life. But to Father, Mr. Pak was more than an individual; he was a representative of all mankind. From God's point of view, all mankind is in a sense crippled.

Even in the very cold winter weather, Father was sweating as he pushed the bicycle. At the foot of a hill, we stopped to rest, even though the sun was still shining. The guns of the Red Chinese army could be heard in the distance.

When the time came to begin climbing the hill, Mr. Pak told Father that the safety of the others would be jeopardized by his disability, and he begged Father to leave him behind. He worried that Father might die in trying to take care of him, and he was concerned that because of him, God's will might not be fulfilled.

Father replied very sternly, saying that he and Mr. Pak were not together by personal choice, but centering around the heavenly dispensation. "Once we know God's will, we can do it together. If we die, we die together; if we live, we live together." Father told him never to think he should be left behind, because they could not separate of their own accord. Unless instructed by God, Father would never part from Mr. Pak.

Mr. Pak never spoke about that again. Encouraged by Father's words, he got on the bicycle and we started out again.

In this manner, we crossed hills and mountains, making our escape. You simply cannot imagine that journey south, through the winter rain, sleet and ice, over the steepest mountains without food, pushing a man with a broken leg on a beat-up bicycle.

Our daily schedule

Our schedule was to wake up early, with the rising sun. Each day we walked as far as we could, until the sun set, averaging 28 kilometers (18 miles) per day. At night, when we could no longer walk, we would look for a place to stay. It was often impossible to walk at night, even if we wanted to, because of the mountainous terrain. In the countryside, houses were scattered far apart. Once we had to walk almost the whole night, before we found a small village and an adequate house for us to stay in.

We would look for a house with a light inside and ask the people for permission to spend the night. Usually, the young people had already fled south, leaving the grandparents alone. Some homes were too poor to accommodate us and others were already filled with refugees who had arrived before us. If people welcomed us into their home, we were usually offered something to eat. If we stayed in an abandoned house, we had only our rice powder for dinner.

The back roads which refugees could take were filled with people escaping from the North. Small lines of people converged, making one big stream of people. Little branches joined to form the main current of a big river. The farther south we went, the more people joined the stream. Some were leading their cows; many carried big packages on their shoulders -- or even their grandmothers or little children. All were heading south. Most of you have probably never experienced fleeing from a war. Can you imagine the tension they felt? It was as if a fire had broken out and everyone was fleeing in panic.

The roads were about four meters (a little over four yards) wide and filled with people. If you lost sight of one of your children in the crowd, it was almost impossible to find him again. To turn around and go back to look for someone was impossible. Once I became separated from Father and tried to go back to look for him, but couldn't. Fortunately, I was able to find him. Then Father explained to me that if you become separated, you have to return to your starting point for that day, or at least your last resting place. Otherwise, there is no hope for finding each other again.

In the beginning, Mr. Pak, Father and I were filled with tension because of the dangers we faced. But as our pattern of life was repeated each day, we began to relax a little bit. The farther south we went, the safer it became. We always maintained a prayerful heart.

As long as we were north of the 38th parallel, we always felt restless; we were constantly aware of the danger. The easiest route to Seoul passed through a town named Kaesong and then the village of Panmunjom, on the 38th parallel. However, we heard a rumor that North Korean troops had already occupied the area. North Korean soldiers disguised as refugees were mingling with the people in order to spread these rumors, hoping to persuade people of the futility of escaping to the South. Some gave up and returned home.

We changed our plans and took a route that passed near Haeju, a coastal city directly south of Pyongyang. One day, U.S. Air Force planes came and strafed the road we were taking, because North Korean soldiers were taking cover among the refugees. We were able to escape to the foot of some mountains, where we were safe, but on the way we had to walk over the bodies of those who had been killed by bombs. I saw a mother and child lying on the ground. The mother had been shot and killed in the raid, but the baby was still alive. People were escaping for their lives and nobody paid attention to the crying baby on the back of its dead mother. Like Mr. Pak. that crying baby was also a representative of mankind. War is very cruel and miserable. If Christianity in Korea had accepted Father, that war would never have happened. Father had to take responsibility for the failure of Christianity.

Walking to the island

We had heard that from a certain island just off the coast near Haeju, boats were taking people to safety in the South. One of Father's friends from Seoul had been living on the island a number of years before, and Father decided to go to the island and try to hire a boat from him.

Along the central part of its west coast, Korea has some of highest tides in the world. There are many islands, and at low tide one can walk out to some of them. But a person has to cross quickly, before the tide returns.

At low tide the ground was muddy; if a person stood still very long, he would sink up to his knees in the mud. Since using a bicycle was out of the question, Father decided to carry Mr. Pak on his back to the island. I carried the bicycle, in addition to my knapsack. It was the dead of winter and pitch dark when we set out. A torch had been lit on the island, so we could see our destination, but we could not see the next step ahead of us. There were unexpected rocks and holes. We would feel our way, step by step, before putting full weight on a leg. When we started out, the water as knee-high, but it became waist-deep by the time we reached the island. If Mr. Pak fell and broke his leg again, there would be no doctor to tend to him.

Upon arriving at the island, Father discovered that his friend was already dead. Moreover, many other people had also gone to the island to try to escape by boat. Only one boat remained, and we got on board. But it was announced that only the families of soldiers or policemen were to be allowed to make the journey. We got off the boat and headed back to the mainland.

As I look back on that experience, I wonder how Father was able to carry Mr. Pak on that long and dangerous crossing to the island. Mr. Pak weighed about as much as Father. You can imagine how difficult it would be to carry a heavy person for several kilometers.

As I was telling this story one time, Father commented, "If I could not have made it, carrying Mr. Pak across to the island, then I could not be responsible for the restoration of the universe." This is typical of Father's attitude: whatever he does is not just for the person immediately involved, but because that person represents many other people, and ultimately the world. Father regarded Mr. Pak as a representative of mankind. North Korea was a symbol of hell, or the satanic world, and South Korea symbolized Canaan, or heaven. Father's mission is to bring all mankind back from the hell of the fallen world to Canaan. With desperation and determination, Father fulfilled this symbolically by carrying Mr. Pak on his back during parts of the journey from North to South Korea.

Father makes a promise

The first crossing had been very difficult, but then we had to return. There seemed to be no hope of getting back to the mainland. We had almost nothing to eat, just small portions of rice powder, which we ate very slowly. Father knew that both Mr. Pak and 1 were despondent, so he told us that once we reached the mainland, there would be people waiting for us who would offer us a big dinner. Because of those encouraging words, we were able to walk back.

It was close to nightfall when we arrived at the shore, where some young people from a village patrol accosted us. Father's hair was still short from his prison days, and these young men assumed that Father was an escaped soldier from North Korea. (South Korean soldiers had longer hair than North Korean soldiers.) It was wartime and conditions were very confusing. There were no regulations; once people became suspicious of someone, they would harass him. So they beat up Father.

Father explained that he was a minister and had just been released from prison, but they did not heed him. Finally, to test him, they asked him to recite the first verse of John chapter 16. Father answered with no problem, and the guards were impressed. Finding a Bible in Father's luggage, they believed him and set him free.

By then it was very dark, and we had no place to stay. Finally, we saw a light and approached the house. A newly-married young couple welcomed us. Theirs was a two-room house, and they offered us the warmer room, the one nearer the kitchen, and a beautiful quilt which had been especially made for their wedding. They also prepared a delicious dinner for us. This was the first time we had received such warm hospitality on our journey.

Father always remembers those who helped him during his escape. Even now, he recalls them. He says the time will come when he can return to them ten or twenty times what they gave him. Once Father has been helped or cared for, he never forgets it. He tries to return much more than whatever he receives.

We didn't think about it that night, but the following day, we remembered Father's promise. Knowing that we were exhausted, he had told us we would meet wonderful people. But if we had comforted Father, realizing that he, too, was very tired, it would not have been necessary for him to tell us that. Before we met those people Father was struck and beaten by the young men. Not Mr. Pak or me, only Father was beaten. After the beating, we met the young couple and received so much blessing from them.

So I learned that when we receive a blessing, it is because Father has already paid indemnity for us. At the time, I was really happy and overjoyed, but later, I reflected and saw what Father had done for us and realized the price he had paid. Then I could understand that Father, and God as well, suffer in order to give us blessings. Before joys come, Father and God have suffered.

If I hadn't shown weakness and needed so much encouragement, Father would not have been struck by the village patrol. I deeply repented for having shown weakness, causing Father to be struck. If we had deep faith, we probably would not need to feel cheered and encouraged by little blessings, and Father would not have to suffer as much.

Again, we set out for Seoul.

The last group to cross the Imjin River

Whenever we found a place to spend the night, it was my task to make a fire to warm the floor for sleeping. (Korean houses have a heating system under the floor.) One night I could find nothing to use for fuel, not even dried grass. Finally I saw a small tomb and beside it a stretcher made of straw supported by two poles. I brought the poles and started a fire with them, realizing later that the stretcher had probably been used to carry a corpse. The three of us were extremely tired, and even though the floor was cold, Father and Mr. Pak lay down, while I tended the fire. Suddenly Father called out to me, asking what kind of wood I was burning. I explained in detail how I had looked everywhere for fuel, to no avail, until I found the poles on the hill near the grave. Then Father told me that not all wood is meant to be used as firewood. Even though he was in another room, he knew what I was doing.

The following day, we came to an abandoned house where many other refugees had sought shelter for the night. After I cooked some food and we ate, we were sitting there enjoying the warmth. Sleepiness descended on us like a lead weight. Mr. Pak and I both asked Father at the same time if we could spend the night there. Usually he would say yes, but that night he replied that we had better move on. Several times we repeated the question, asking if we couldn't rest there and start again in the morning. After the first refusal, Father didn't respond. He stood up and said we had better be going. It was very cold, dark and windy that night, but Father said we had to continue on. So we followed him, and walked on for a long time until he decided to rest.

Early the next morning, we faced our last major challenge in our path to Seoul: the Imjin River. (The Imjin River joins the Han River just before they enter the sea. This frozen river was a strategic point for fortification against the advancing armies.) We heard the sounds of an air battle overhead. If the enemy troops could cross the river, they could easily attack Seoul. On the other side, the U.N. troops were constructing defensive positions. Because a battle was imminent, it was decided that day to allow no more refugees to cross the river.

We saw many people crossing the ice, and we followed them to the other bank. Just after we arrived, the barricade was completed, and we were among the very last few people able to leave the north. Then I knew why Father had not given in to our pleadings the night before. If we had remained in that house, we would have been shut out by the barricade.

Spiritualists often tell people, "This is a revelation from God," and people can easily follow their instructions. But Father didn't say anything about receiving a revelation that the river would be barricade: -- He just spoke in a natural manner.

From such experiences, I realize how important it is to attend and serve Father. I try never to let my attendance become habitual. Sometimes I am fearful of Father's statements. If he says something, I cannot take it lightly.

Christmas in Seoul

We had left Pyongyang on December 4 and arrived completely exhausted in Seoul on Christmas Eve. "I stayed in Seoul when I was young," Father explained to us, "so I have many friends here, friends of faith." He said this to encourage and comfort us. Then Father began searching for his friends. We located the home of one friend, but he had already escaped, together with his entire family. We spent the night in his empty house.

Not only our strength, but all our food as well was exhausted. I went out looking for something we could eat. I had to find something, somewhere, for Father and Mr. Pak. I visited several houses, but all were vacant. Although they were locked, I found some way to enter and look around. I was searching for rice. Finally, in one house, I found a little bag with rice inside it. Filled with happiness, I brought it back and prepared dinner.

"Where did you get this?" Father wanted to know. When I explained, Father taught me, "If you take something from somebody, you should determine to return to him three times as much as what you took. If you make this internal condition, you may take the food, but still you should try to give it back substantially at some point."

Later on, I looked for the house in order to repay the people. However, that Christmas was my first visit to Seoul, and I could no longer remember which house it was; not knowing the owners' names, I couldn't go around and ask for them. Since it was impossible to return the rice to those from whom I had borrowed it, I gave rice to some very needy people in their stead.

Father once explained that whereas in the fallen world pickpockets take money from people, in the heavenly world, people will sneak money into the pockets of others. Fallen-world people steal, but heavenly-world people give to those who need help. Thus, in the heavenly world, if we lock our doors, we are preventing someone from coming in to leave us something!

According to Father, we shouldn't wait for the heavenly kingdom to arrive before putting this into practice. As part of the process of kingdom-building, we ourselves have to begin doing these things. If we help each other, the spirit world multiplies the good deeds. In this way, the influence of good will spread, and the heavenly kingdom will gradually come about.

However, the Red Chinese and North Korean armies were continuing their advance, and soon the residents of Seoul were asked to evacuate the city and head further south. (Seoul again fell to communist forces on January 4.)

Obtaining identification

In our journey, the farther south we went, the more frequently we were asked for identification. Even in small villages, village patrols had been organized, and people carried cards showing that they were residents of the village. These patrols sometimes punished or tortured those who arrived without identification. Thus, some refugees who had escaped safely from North Korea were killed by these self-defense units. However, until we reached Seoul, we had had no opportunity to obtain identification.

Since there was a shortage of soldiers, the government was also forming volunteer army units made up of refugee men. In the part of Seoul where we were staying, such a group was being rounded up. Mr. Pak was excused, since he had a broken leg; I met the qualifications and was asked to go to the police station and line up for the health examination. But people were suspicious of Father, because his hair was still very short, from his prison days, and he was taken off to the police station for interrogation. Thus, we were separated.

Father spent a sleepless night at the police station, and the following morning he was interrogated again. Thinking this might be my last chance to see Father, I went to look for him.

I asked Father, "If I cannot see you any more, how can I continue? How can I maintain faith? What can I do by myself? Please give me advice."

"Follow your mind, your original mind," Father replied. Father said I would receive guidance from my original mind and that I should direct my life according to it.

I really did not want to be separated from Father, so finally I introduced him to a policeman, explaining that he was my teacher, my master. I told how Father had been imprisoned in Hungnam and then was liberated, and how we were making our journey south.

The policeman looked at me suspiciously, thinking that I was a woman dressed as a man. He imagined that Father was my husband and that he had made me pretend to be a man in order to escape to the South. So out of my explanation, the police concocted a totally different story.

He called me into a private room, wanting to see whether I was really a man. He asked me to take off my shirt, and his doubts were resolved. No longer suspicious of Father, he released him.

After that, Father also had to apply for the volunteer army. The first step was the health examination. The soldiers said that those who had a disease should line up separately. Neither Father nor I looked sick, but Father joined that group and called me over to join him.

I did not have the confidence to join that line. I had seen one man with a badly injured eye, who protested that he could not fight. But the soldiers replied, "Even though you have one eye, you have your whole body, hands and legs. So you can fight." They took him into the army. Another person said he had hemorrhoids, and the soldier said, "Even though you suffer with this disease, you still have your hands. It's okay. You pass."

Then I recalled an accident that happened when I was in prison, in which I fell off the roof and hurt by backbone. Ever since, I have had a kind of rheumatism in my backbone. So I prepared to explain this condition.

Father was called in to be questioned. I couldn't hear what he told them, but the soldiers finally said he was disqualified. Then it was my turn. Afraid of being separated from Father, my heart was filled with anxiety.

Maybe if you were in my position, you would have thought first about Father's situation. You would have been very happy to see Father disqualified as a soldier. But at the time, I didn't think about Father first. I explained my situation to the soldiers, and strangely enough, they disqualified me, too.

Thus, Father and I received certificates of disqualification. If people left without receiving those papers, they would be examined again later. For the first time since coming south, we had a chance to get some kind of identification.

Let's go to the police office and get our certification a, refugees," Father said. We needed a witness to testify to us and identify us. An acquaintance of Father, a middle-aged woman, came and identified us. Because of her help, we were finally able to get identification cards. With these cards, we were able to go through many situations very smoothly.

Later on, we heard that the head of the volunteer army was negligent. In the cold weather, not enough food was provided, and the soldiers became malnourished. When the temperature dropped, their legs would freeze, and many died of frostbite or gangrene. The leaders of the volunteer army were eventually put to death for their irresponsibility.

Moonyeong Gate

Crossing through Moongyeong Gate

The southeastern part of Korea is separated from the rest of the country by a fairly high mountain range. Centuries ago, rulers built gates to fortify key passes in these mountains. The main roads go around the steeper areas, but for refugees, the safest and most direct was a very narrow and steep path through Moongyeong Gate. This was a difficult crossing even for ordinary, healthy young men, who would be dripping with sweat when they reached the top and had to sit down to rest. They would sing songs to ease their tiredness.

Mr. Pak's leg was still not completely healed, and it took us seven or eight hours to cross the mountain. Snow had fallen, and a layer of ice covered it. A fresh snowfall covered the earlier snow and ice. Therefore, the path was very slippery and dangerous.

I carried the bicycle, and Father carried Mr. Pak on his back. In this way we climbed up. Several other people had been traveling by bicycle, but they discarded them on the way up. Others who had been carrying bags or rice or wagons filled with belongings also abandoned them. Finally, we made it over the mountain.

This part of the journey was so hard for me, but I did not consider how difficult it must have been for Father as well. As I look back, I realize that I was so preoccupied with myself that I did not think of caring for Father.

In 1971, I went back to these mountains and, together with other church members, retraced Father's crossing. As we climbed it again, I could realize how difficult it must have been for him to carry Mr. Pak up and down that mountain trail.

An eternal connection with Father

Then we arrived in a small village, Yeong-Chong, where Father bought some rice cakes. "Do you know what day today is?" he asked. We replied that we did not know.

"Today is the day when in front of God we made a pledge together. This is the day."

Earlier I told how I had returned unopened a letter Father had written to one member. Father had been keeping that letter, and when we came to this village, he brought it out and explained why he had saved it. Through this, I learned that even though this person had left the family, Father still felt concern for him. (In fact, he continues to care about all those who leave the family.)

After offering a prayer, Father tore up the letter, and then we ate the rice cakes together.

When people join, they pledge in front of God, together with Father, to do God's will. So even though they leave, Father continuously prays for them and cares for them. Father sees them not from a horizontal or superficial point of view, but from a vertical point of view. Someone may not appear so impressive externally, but Father sees his ancestors' good accomplishments and treats them very warmly.

Suppose someone accomplished "20" degrees for the church and then leaves it, influencing it somewhat negatively, say "5" degrees. Even if we subtract the 5, still 15 remain. But if he continuously does bad, say "25" degrees, his bad accomplishments outweigh his good accomplishments; in such a case, it may be allowed to cut him off from the providence, and Satan will be unable to accuse.

But Father always believes that people will return. If he, the messiah, cuts off the relationship with someone, there is no way he can be saved. In fact, most people who leave don't do so because of Father or the Divine Principle, but because they made some mistakes in the family, or because even though they tried hard they did not fulfill their mission. Sometimes when people who feel they are capable are not chosen for missions, they begin to feel isolated or alienated from Father, eventually leaving.

Father has said, "It is very difficult to have a connection with me, but once you have it, it is yours eternally." Father can never cut people off from himself. If we like the connection, we can keep it; if we don't like the connection, we can easily cut it. In a sense, we are happy people, because we can cut the connection; he can't.

Food for the journey

Mr. Pak was a good organizer, and he planned our daily food allotment. We had to ration our food very carefully; otherwise, we would run out before reaching Pusan.

We would pack a certain quantity of food for a given number of meals, but it never turned out exactly as planned. When I cooked according to his plan, there was usually not enough food for the three of us to eat three meals a day. So we always felt hungry. I didn't want Father to feel hungry, so I made more than what Mr. Pak had instructed. He didn't always watch me as I was measuring out the portions to cook. Also, when Mr. Pak saw the finished meals, he might have suspected I was serving more food than he had planned, but since he also was hungry, he never said anything to me about it.

Father knew that during our long journey, we would often be hungry and face difficulties. He also knew that seeing other people eat would make our hunger more acute. This was the first time that Mr. Pak and I had visited South Korea, so we didn't know anything about the areas we visited. When we went to cities that were known for their fruits, Father would sometimes buy some for us. He would explain how one city was famous for its apples, another for its oranges, etc., and let us sample their specialties.

Father did not have extra money to do this, but he knew our hunger and wanted to buy food for us. We worried that if Father continued buying fruit for us, his money would soon run out, but sometimes people would give him money. Refugees always need some money, but throughout our journey, we were never totally without money.

Before arriving in Kyongju, we exchanged the food we had brought with us for some rice. We had to trade a large quantity of supplies for a small amount of rice. That rice disappeared so quickly! Even now, I recall how hungry we were because of how quickly we ate that rice. That meal of rice is still one of the strongest memories of our journey.

Sometimes when we visited small, humble villages, the people would offer us dinner. As we received that food, I would feel very strongly that some day I would return it to them. I determined that if anyone ever came to me for food, I would treat them very warmly.

I could understand how deeply Father feels about people who offer aid to someone in difficulty. This can be applied not only to physical food but also to spiritual food. In the Pyongyang days, Father always gave guidance and spiritual food to those who were in trouble. Late at night or early in the morning, Father always gave guidance. When people come to us in difficulty and trouble, we should never let them go without giving them some spiritual food, helping them to solve the problem. When you give spiritual food to lonely people, they are very grateful and appreciative. Always treat such people warmly; never let them go empty-handed.

Journey's end

Finally, Mr. Pak's leg was healed, and by the time we arrived in Kyongju, the ancient capital of the Silla Dynasty, he could begin to walk even without a stick. This trip was my first opportunity to know Mr. Pak, and during our times together, I began to understand about his leg and comprehend more aspects of Father.

Mr. Pak was a quiet person and also very heartistic. When they were together in prison, Mr. Pak once told Father he would like to build a church building with a capacity of 300 people, where Father could preach. He asked Father if he could stay in Kyongju and study to be a professional artist.

So only Father and I continued the journey. Our next goal was a town on the east coast named Ulsan, where there was a train station. This small country town is now a highly-developed industrial city, home of the biggest shipyard in the world. From Ulsan, we took a train south to Pusan.

The train was powered by a coal-burning steam engine. There was no room in the passenger cars, only on the engine. Behind the engine car were the operator and a fireman to keep the fire stoked. The only way we could ride was by clinging to the front of the engine. It was late January, and the wind was very cold as we hung on to the train. Our backs were against the engine, so they were warm, but our faces headed into the wind. Even though the cold air rushing past the moving train was like a knife in our flesh, we preferred it to walking.

At last we arrived at the train station in Pusan. That station is now the site of a big civic center. It was late at night and very dark, so we stayed at the station, keeping warm by making a fire in an empty butter can left by the U.N. soldiers. The following day we went into the city.

For most refugees, the journey south took ten days to two weeks. Ours lasted nearly two months. We had left Pyongyang on December 4, 1950, and on January 27, 1951, arrived in Pusan, the only part of the peninsula not overrun by the Red Chinese troops. We were among the last people to leave the North and arrive safely in Pusan. 

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