The Words of Won Pil Kim

Prison Life in Hungnam

Won Pil Kim
July 1983

Work and storage room. Bagging in the fertilizer.

Father's ministry in Pyongyang ended on February 22, 1948, when he was arrested for a second time by North Korean officials. He was tried on April 7 and sentenced to five years of hard labor.

In the Pyongyang prison, while Father was still being held awaiting trial, he encountered one man who had given testimony against him. This person did not want to greet Father, but Father spoke first, asking, "Don't you remember me?" Unable to avoid replying, the man said, "Yes, of course." Then he apologized and said he was sorry for what he had done, but that he had been under tremendous pressure from the communists to supply helpful testimony. He said that deep inside him, he had never wanted to do anything bad toward Father. Later that man brought food to Father.

Sometime after the trial, the judge who had sentenced Father visited the prison. How could Father find any worse enemy than this man? Knowing Father was there, the judge didn't want to see him, but Father walked toward him and greeted him. When the judge saw that Father forgave him, he apologized and said, "You have no reason to be here. I know you are totally innocent, but I had to give you a sentence because my superior ordered me to." Before leaving the prison, the judge brought much food to Father.

These incidents give us a glimpse of what could take place under such a legal system. No one really believed that Father was a criminal, but Satan created a system that could impose an unjust process on him. Although he was innocent, he was given a totally unrealistic sentence. In prison, a person is called by number, not by his name. Father's number was 596, which in phonetic Korean means "sorrowful." Thus even Father's number represented God's sorrow and heartbreak.

A spiritually-prepared cellmate

One man who became Father's cellmate in the Pyongyang prison was a former officer in the Korean army. After Korea was divided, this man, a Mr. Kim, served under a North Korean officer, but at the same time he was secretly sending intelligence information to the South. When this was discovered he was sentenced to be executed.

While he was asleep one day, he heard someone call his name. He paid no attention, but then it happened again. The third time, he responded and saw an old man standing before him, dressed in traditional Korean garb. The old man told him he would not die, and that soon he would meet a most important young man, whom he should treat very well. When the dream ended, Mr. Kim knew that God had spoken to him.

Shortly thereafter, Mr. Kim's name was called out for what he expected to be his execution. However, a general he used to serve under had recently returned from Russia, and finding that his beloved junior officer had been sentenced to die, obtained a pardon for him. Mr. Kim was re-tried and his sentence commuted to three years imprisonment.

After such an experience, you would think he would have seriously heeded what God told him in his dream, but he was so happy at being pardoned that he completely forgot the advice about the young man he was to meet.

Some days later, while he was dozing, God appeared again, as an old man, and reprimanded him harshly, insisting that he prepare for the arrival of this young man. Suddenly the image of the old man vanished, and his physical father appeared in his place. Telling him to follow, his father led him to a palace-like setting, down a long corridor, and up a majestic staircase. At the top was a large chair or throne, where his lather directed him to pay his respects. In Korea it is customary to bow and pay respect to one's teachers or parents. Mr. Kim bowed three times, and then looked up to see who was on the chair. The light was so bright that he could just glimpse the face of the man seated there. Then his father led him back down the stairs.

Father was put in the same cell as Mr. Kim. Newcomers in prison cells are expected to sit next to the bucket which serves as the communal toilet; the prisoner with the most seniority in the cell sits the farthest away. Knowing the custom, Father went straight to the seat next to the bucket.

As soon as Father walked in, Mr. Kim felt a desire to have Father sit next to him and talk to him. Since Mr. Kim had been in the cell the longest time, he could exercise his authority and bring Father to his side.

Father later told us that he not spoken to anybody in that prison before being put in that cell. The prison authorities knew that cellmates often talk freely to each other, so they often planted informants among them. Therefore, it was risky to talk to one's fellow prisoners.

Mr. Kim asked Father to tell him about himself. "Please tell me something," he pleaded over and over. Father recognized his good motivation and knew there must be some meaningful reason behind his curiosity, so he began talking about his life, how he had searched to find out God's will and God's way. But he told the story in the third person, describing it as the life story of a person named Lawrence. Eventually Mr. Kim recognized that the young man in the story was Father himself, and he remembered God's advice about meeting a very important young man.

So this Mr. Kim became Father's first disciple in prison. On May 20, Father and this Mr. Kim were transferred from the prison in Pyongyang to a concentration camp in Hungnam, a major industrial city on the east coast of North Korea.

Surviving without Father

I would like to talk about the life of the members while Father was in prison, and what I was doing at the time. In Father's absence, many members gradually left the family. While Father had been with us, people came day and night, discussing their problems with Father. But with him gone, there was nobody to lead the meetings and members stayed at home. I didn't know how to keep contact other than going to the church, because I didn't know where the other members lived. So I often went to the church.

In my notebook, I drew a block, divided it into five sections, one for each year of Father's sentence, and subdivided each fifth into twelve months. As each month ended, I would fill in the blank. Thus, I consoled myself with the knowledge that after each blank was filled in, I would see Father again.

One day when I was walking along the street, a sudden longing for Father welled up within me. A strong feeling flowed from my heart, and I realized that even though Father was then in prison, his determination to accomplish God's will would never change. Since Father doesn't change, how could I? I asked myself. Unless Father changed I could never change. This determination impressed itself on my mind.

One of the older members supposed that Father was very cold in prison, so she wanted to knit him some warm socks. In Korea, people sometimes knit socks from human hair, since it is very warm and almost never wears out. So she took some of her own hair and knitted socks for him.

When I arrived at the church one day, I found one member who wanted to send some food to Father. When Father was being held in the Pyongyang prison, she often brought him clothes or food, but by then he had been taken to Hungnam. This lady knew of one of the spiritualists who would be able to take things to Father in Hungnam, so she asked me to take what she had prepared to the spiritualist. She drew a map so I could find her house.

The lady was very happy to see me. She had been holding services in her home, with her children. So from that time on, I went to her place for church services. (Hers was the first of the members' homes Father visited after his release from prison.)

While Father was in prison, I kept my faith and continued attending church even though few members were present. Still, I wondered what I would eventually do, since there was no one to teach me. Because I kept my faith, Heavenly Father was able to instruct me about what to do next, by directing me to this old lady's house.

From this experience I learned that whatever mission ours may be, or wherever we may be in the church, the important thing is to put all our sincerity and heart into it; then Heavenly Father will surely show us the next step. Some members worry about the future, but I have always concentrated on fulfilling whatever my immediate responsibilities were at the time. Of course, since I was quite young in those days, it was probably natural that I did not concern myself so much about the future.

The preciousness of food

Dangerous criminals and political prisoners were sent to Hungnam concentration camp. To be sent there was equivalent to a death sentence. If the officials were to kill prisoners outright, the people would protest, so they assigned the prisoners very heavy labor and fed them insufficient food, hoping that the prisoners would eventually die of illness, or of overwork and undernourishment. The communists expected Father to stay in prison until he died.

Since the communist officials were concerned about public opinion, however, they did allow the relatives and friends of the prisoners to bring them food and clothing. The food that prisoners received from their visitors was so precious to them that they would not share it with anybody. They never left the food out of their sight; at night they would clasp the food to them while they slept. So great was their hunger that prisoners would steal food from one another.

As each new prisoner arrived, Father would estimate how long they would survive under the conditions in Hungnam; his guesses were often accurate. Prisoners lived an average of six months under such treatment. When Father observed this situation, he realized that if he acted like the others he would die before his five-year prison sentence was completed. So he determined to strengthen his spirit in order to survive. He never worried about his own life, only about God's will and God's heart. What would happen to God, if he were to die? How could God fulfill His will?

So Father decided upon a strategy: he would divide his portion of food in two and give away half. He decided that he would consider these half rations sufficient to survive on during the coming five years. In the beginning, Father shared half of his rations with sick or weak prisoners. Only after three months did he begin to eat the full portion, and he did so with deep gratitude to Heavenly Father for giving him double blessings, for supplying him with twice the food he needed to survive. Thus, Father never complained about the small portions of food.

Witnessing to a prison supervisor

In prison, Father was not free to speak to the other prisoners. One day, however, during lunch time Father noticed one person and sensed there was something different about him. So he began to talk to him. This person, a Mr. Pak [Chung Hwa Pak], had been a very pious Christian as a young man, before joining the communist party, and then rising to a high position in the army. He had been sent to prison, accused of not fulfilling his duties. In Hungnam, he was given a supervisory position over the approximately 3,000 prisoners. Because of his responsible position, he had more authority than even the prison guards.

Father talked to Mr. Pak about John the Baptist, telling him that John the Baptist did not fulfill his mission, and explained the reasons why. In his youthful Christian days, Mr. Pak had thought of John the Baptist as a great prophet, but Father's explanation was quite different; so he rejected what Father told him. Father tried to give a more detailed explanation, but Mr. Pak did not want to receive it. In his position, Mr. Pak could have made life very difficult for Father if he were to oppose him. So we can imagine how crucial this relationship was for Father. In spite of the potential danger, Father continued speaking to him.

That night something unusual happened to Mr. Pak. Normally a healthy person, he began feeling great pain, almost unbearable pain. An old, white-haired man appeared to him and told him, "Do you know who prisoner number 596 is? You should follow him."

His pain was so unbearable that he had to agree with what the old man told him. As soon as he did, the pain disappeared.

The next day at lunch, Father saw Mr. Pak and asked him, "Did something happen to you last night?"

Having told nobody about his experience, Mr. Pak wondered how Father could have known what occurred the night before. So he related his experience of the night before.

Then Father talked to him about Jesus' mother and how she did not fulfill her responsibility.

Mr. Pak could perhaps accept what Father had told him about John the Baptist, but the explanation about Mary was totally unacceptable.

"Please don't refuse me," Father pleaded at the end.

That night, Mr. Pak suffered even greater pain than the previous night. Again, the white-haired man appeared and said, "I told you to follow this man; why didn't you?"

He apologized and repented, and again all his pain immediately vanished.

The third day, during lunch, Father again told Mr. Pak something completely incredible. I myself don't know exactly what Father talked to him about, but again he rejected it.

Again that night, Mr. Pak suffered. Again the old man appeared and chastised him. For the third time, Mr. Pak repented, this time very deeply and sincerely.

In this manner, Mr. Pak became a disciple of Father, the second disciple Father gained in prison.

Maintaining health

Prison officials were especially concerned about preventing two things: fires and escape plots. To prevent the first, officials searched packages and people for matches or other incendiary materials. If a fire were to break out, the officials would be obliged to allow the prisoners to escape, to save their lives.

To prevent the second, opportunities for conversations were limited, and sleeping hours were strictly controlled. Since night is an opportune time for making plots, prisoners were supposed to go to sleep at the same time and wake up together. If prisoners violated this schedule, they were severely punished.

Father was very concerned about maintaining his health in order to be able to survive the prison experience. Even now he takes measures to maintain his health. In his cell, Father always woke up one hour early to do exercises and pray.

Prisoners were allowed only a small amount of water per day. Father likes water and drinks more than many people do. However, he would drink only half the glass of water he received at night; with the other half he would moisten the towel with which he rubbed down his body early every morning, in order to keep himself clean and also to maintain his health. After cleansing himself, Father would do special exercises which he developed [similar to isometric exercises].

There was one small window in the cell, through which the guards could observe the prisoners, and a little gate through which food was passed into the cells (prisoners did not go to a dining room for meals). During the night, guards would make the rounds, watching the prisoners.

In the early morning, while the other prisoners were still sleeping, the noise created by Father massaging himself with the towel was audible. So Father would calculate how long the guards took to make their rounds of all the cells and would act while they were down the hall; when they appeared at the cell window, he would pretend to be sleeping.

One time Father was discovered doing his exercises and sent to a torture cell for seven days. Even after that experience, he continued doing his exercises.

Since we believe in God, we sometimes think that God will help us even though we don't fulfill all our responsibility. From Father's prison life, we can learn how he set up the kind of situation in which God and spirit world could not keep from helping him. Even though Father did not ask help from God and spirit world, they had to come to his aid.

Sacks ready to be loaded onto ships.

Taking on the hardest tasks

During their occupation, the Japanese had built a fertilizer factory in Hungnam, which they abandoned after World War II. The North Korean communists built a concentration camp and used prison labor for the heaviest factory work. The work site was three or four kilometers from the prison camp. Over the years, the fertilizer hardened, and dynamite had to be used to break it up into usable chunks.

The prisoners had to dynamite the fertilizer, break up the chunks, pack it into straw bags, weigh the bags, and transport the bags to the train. People who did this kind of work for pay would earn good wages for their labor; they could live for a whole year on seven months' wages. So you can imagine how difficult this job was.

Ten-man teams were divided into five pairs, one pair for each step of the process. Nobody wanted to do the most difficult part: load the fertilizer into bags and lift the bags onto the scale. A bag filled with fertilizer weighed about 40 kilos (88 pounds). Plastic or paper bags would have been smoother and less destructive to the hands; but the straw bags scraped the skin off the prisoners' hands, exposing the flesh and sometimes even the bones.

The workday was eight hours long. During this time, each team of ten people had to process 1,300 bags of fertilizer. If they did not fulfill their daily quota, they could not eat. Thus you can imagine how desperate they were to fulfill their goal. There are 480 minutes in eight hours. You can easily figure out how much time ten people could take to break up enough fertilizer, fill a bag, take it to the scale, weigh it, and load it on the train. It was three bags per minute, or 20 seconds per bag. Imagine how hard that was! If they could have taken 10 or 20 hours, they could have fulfilled the goal, but they were given only eight hours. And failure meant no dinner.

Every morning, the prisoners were made to march in lines, eight abreast, to the factory. Armed soldiers marched beside them, watching their every action. Prisoners had to hold hands with one another as they marched, in order to make it more difficult for somebody to escape. They were forbidden to look around as they walked, to keep them from establishing contact with outside people who lived in the area; such give and take might provide prisoners with information or aid in escaping. In addition to prisoners, civilians worked at the factory, but the soldiers kept the two groups separated.

About a year after Father was put in prison, I was able to see him one morning as his group marched to the factory. He was holding the hands of those beside him and looking down as he walked.

As I was looking at Father, he somehow recognized me. With his eyes, he signaled me to come closer, and I waited for him along the way where his group was to pass. As his line went by, Father asked me about the members. However, if it had been discovered that Father had give and take with me, he would have been severely tortured. I was not aware of that danger at the time; only later did I find out.

Father once said that in the middle of winter prisoners would work in their undershirts; still the work was so arduous that sweat poured down their backs. Their skin would peel and bleed, finally exposing the bones of the fingers. The chemical fertilizer would penetrate the flesh and cause much pain.

The process of restoration requires a central figure, condition, and period of time. This period of time is very important. If the restoration could have been extended over one or two thousand years, there would have been no need to shed blood, sweat and tears. But Father had to accomplish his mission within a certain time period. That is why he had to shed blood, sweat and tears.

Three times during his stay in Hungnam, Father received an award for being a model prisoner. This testifies to how much sincerity and effort Father invested in his work.

Medical conditions

Medical conditions were very poor in prison; there was not enough medicine to treat the prisoners who contracted diseases. In the summer, for instance, many prisoners fell ill with malaria. Father himself was sick with malaria for 12 days. One of the symptoms of malaria is alternating chills and high fever. For 12 days Father suffered these chills and fevers. Even then, he worked every day.

Hungnam is located on the east coast of Korea. Many mackerel were caught in the winter. The fresh mackerel was sold in the markets, but old mackerel was sometimes made into soup for the prisoners. People don't usually eat old mackerel, preferring to use it for fertilizer. But that old mackerel was so tasty to the prisoners, because they never had fresh fish. However, the spoiled fish would sometimes give the prisoners diarrhea. In the morning, all the prisoners would line up to use the toilet, but there were not enough toilets for such emergencies. So even standing in line, the prisoners could no longer contain themselves. Social status made no difference; Christian ministers and common people alike soiled their clothes.

A mother's love

Father came from a very large family; his mother had many, responsibilities, taking care of their meals and handling many family affairs. But Father's mother loved him so much. For her beloved son, she prepared food and carried it to Hungnam to give to him.

When Father was a student in Japan, he sent a telegram to his mother, informing her of the day he would return home for a visit. World War II was going on, and the boat on which Father had planned to arrive was attacked and sunk.

When Father's mother heard about the sinking of the boat, she searched the list of passengers. Although she did not find the name of her son, she thought he must have died along with the others. She felt so bad that she could not stay at home, so she went alone from their village in North Korea to Pusan, to find out about her son. Arriving at the harbor, she could not find any news of her son and turned around to go home.

On her way home, she felt so much anguish. She cried all the time and almost went crazy with grief. She did not even realize where she was walking or when her shoes wore out. Barefoot, she walked over stones and thorns. Her feet were bleeding, but she was not even aware of the pain, because she was thinking only of her son.

When Father was about to board the boat that sank, something had occurred; his body remained fixed, and he could not move his feet. So he sensed that something would happen to him if he were to take the boat. Therefore, he stayed in Japan.

During his student days in Japan, Father was arrested by the police, and his mother was so sad when she heard the news that he was jailed and subjected to torture. Then when she heard he was imprisoned in Hungnam, again she felt grieved.

When she came to visit her son in Hungnam and saw him in a very miserable condition, with almost no hair and clad in a shabby prison coat, she cried and cried. But Father was very strict with her: "If you are going to cry for me, please don't visit me again."

Father didn't want to see her crying for him; he wanted to see her cry for God. This gives us an insight into how Father feels about the relationship between human love and divine love. Father always puts priority on God's love.

Father was very concerned about the motivation behind his mother's tears -- whether they were for God or for himself. If she had been crying for him as God's son, as one who was doing God's will, Father would have been happy to see her crying. But she was crying just because she saw her son in a miserable situation.

Because of their strong mother-son bond, it was hard for Father to look at his mother crying. He knew, of course, how difficult it had been for her to make the trip to Hungnam. She had prepared everything for him and traveled a long way just to see him. But still, he had to tell her this.

When mothers prepare food for their children, they really want their children to have it. But Father shared the food his mother had brought with the other prisoners -- right in front of her eyes. This act really hurt her mother's heart.

Father's mother had to pass through Pyongyang in order to return to her home village. While in Pyongyang, she stopped to visit one of the spiritualists who had been taking care of Father. I met her during that visit.

"I really suffer when I see and hear about my son suffering because of other people," she told me. "Even though he is innocent, he is suffering so much, being thrown into prison. Next time, I want to protect him." She asked me to tell Father, the next time I saw him, that she wanted to protect him in the future. She wanted to stay beside him in order to keep him from danger.

She cried all the way back home. "I won't visit my son again," she declared upon her return. Her feelings had been hurt so deeply; the food she had made with so much heart and sincerity her son had shared with the other prisoners. But even as she said that, she began preparing for her next visit.

Helping people realize their errors

After his release from prison, Mr. Kim told us about Father's situation in prison. He said he never saw Father lying down. He was always meditating. Usually prisoners were allowed to take a nap on Sundays, but even then Father never lay down to sleep; he meditated.

When Father was given food by someone -- his mother, visitors, friends, members -- he would put it in a bag and place the bag in a corner. Whenever Father ate from this food, he shared it among the other prisoners, so the others came to feel that this bag of food was not just Father's, but belonged to everybody. The other prisoners knew exactly how much food remained in the bag. Being always hungry, the prisoners were continually looking forward to the time when they could share some of the food from the bag.

One day it was discovered that some of the food was stolen. The amount missing was substantial enough for everyone to notice. "We know who stole the food," they came to Father and said. "Please give us permission to accuse him." They thought of the food as theirs, but since it actually belonged to Father, they had to come to him for permission to attack the person who had taken some. But Father didn't care about how much food was in the bag. Instead of Father, they had great interest in the food.

Father didn't answer them when they came to complain. After dinner, he gathered the prisoners together, got out the bag of food, and a set out a small bowl. Calling over the person who had stolen the food, he said to him, "I can understand how hungry you are; so please eat -- as much as you like." But this person wouldn't take anything. Then Father poured a big amount of food into the bowl and gave it to him.

The other prisoners had wanted to chastise the guilty person. But instead of accusing him, Father gave him more food. You can probably imagine that the other prisoners were not satisfied with Father's action. But the way Father treated him made him feel bad, and his heart changed. Then Father passed around food to everybody.

I am telling you this story so you can understand how Father helped this person change, by the way he treated him.

One of the prisoners at Hungnam was a hardened criminal, and even in prison he did not alter his attitude. Sometimes he attacked the other prisoners. Father watched him resist change. One day Father asked him how he happened to come to the prison. As he told his testimony to Father, Father commented about various aspects, warning him against specific actions or encouraging him to think along certain lines. That man was able to understand Father's words and make a change.

Through such interactions Father taught the following things: When people do something evil, we usually say, "You should not do such a thing." We think that if we tell them that, we have fulfilled our responsibilities towards them. However, when we see people doing something evil, we have to look at them from God's or True Parents' point of view. We should reflect on how God looks at us and remember that in God's eyes, we also do evil. Before accusing someone of doing wrong, we have to repent in front of God for what we do to Him. Then we can be grateful to that person, because his wrongdoing helped us recognize our own errors. Through such a person God can show us our shortcomings.

Being close to Father, I sometimes saw a very adventurous nature in him. Because Father loves God and mankind very deeply, he will take many risks. We can imagine an otherwise weak woman who will risk her life to save her children from a burning house. Similarly, Father risks his life to save all mankind.

Imitating Father, we should develop the highest love and the strongest determination to save the people of our city, state or nation. Even if people persecute us, because of the quality of our love, we can sacrifice to save them.

Overcoming Satan's temptation

Two thousand years ago, Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. Satan first told Jesus to change stones into bread. Through hunger Satan also attacked Father.

But Father never changed. Even Satan was moved by the conditions which Father set. Although he was suffering from severe hunger, Father never complained to God; instead, he was always grateful to God for giving him food and life; he felt he was receiving double blessings from God.

Second, Satan told Jesus to cast himself down from a pinnacle and let the angels protect him from injury. In prison, Father never depended on the spirit world to help him out of difficult situations. Instead, he himself always set the strongest conditions, being so exemplary that the spirit world could not help but come to his aid. When we listen to stories of Father's life in prison, it is tempting to think that because of God's help, or because of the help of spirit world, Father gained the victory. But whenever I study Father's life intensively, I always conclude that he set up the conditions which meant that God and the spirit world could not keep from helping him. However, when Father talks to us, he gives credit to God and the spirit world for the victories. His attitude is always to return the glory to God and the spirit world.

Third, Satan told Jesus that if he bowed down to him, he would give Jesus all the glories of the world. Father said that the most difficult part of his prison life was the reflections they had to write every month. The content of these reflections had to show loyalty and obedience to the nation; if the content was not satisfactory, the prisoners would not survive prison life. If Father had written positive reflections, praising the nation and the government, he would have been set free. But Father never wrote reflections himself; he had a disciple do it for him.

Thus Satan tried many methods of attacking Father. But none of his tactics succeeded. Prison life was filled with tiredness, hunger and disease. But even in that situation, Father continued doing the most difficult task. In spite of such adverse circumstances, Father was able to witness and gain 12 disciples, 12 people who devoted themselves to Father at the risk of their own lives.

The three awards that Father received during his prison life meant that even Satan had to bow down in front of Father. These awards showed Father's substantial victory over Satan. If Adam had gained the victory, the archangel would have had to bow down to him. Because Father set up the victorious conditions, spirit world could not avoid helping him.

Satan knows very clearly about Father's mission. Even if Satan controls all mankind, if he cannot dominate Father, his work is meaningless and useless. Satan tries to control and dominate all mankind, but with the purpose of diminishing the messiah. Satan placed Father in a situation which was very convenient to him; prison circumstances were ideal for Satan to attack Father and end his life. But even there, Satan could not take Father's life. Finally he had to set him free.

Satan couldn't invade Father because of the conditions Father set. Likewise, even if we are in Satan's dominion, if we don't set any conditions for Satan to attack, he can never invade us; he cannot touch even one hair of ours unless we make some condition.

Don't take the easy way out

Perhaps the most difficult kind of temptation for Father to resist was the temptation to take the easy way out. After Mr. Pak, the prison supervisor, became Father's disciple, he wanted to offer Father the easiest task in the prison. "Please accept this easier assignment," he would suggest to Father. But Father would always take the most difficult tasks. You might wonder why he would do so.

Father knew that many saints had suffered greatly for God's sake, yet they did not reach the kingdom of heaven. When Father went to prison, he made a very strong determination to gain the victory in prison life. Unless he suffered more than the saints and righteous people in spirit world, he would never be able to liberate them or heal their resentment.

It is usually very difficult for us to refuse when we are offered a comfortable alternative by someone on God's side. Had we been in Father's situation, we might have been tempted to accept Mr. Pak's suggestion as coming from God. After all, Mr. Pak had been guided by God to become Father's disciple.

Suppose you set a 40-day witnessing condition and determine to witness to several people during that period. Maybe you set your goal at three people. Then you meet one person who joins. If that person comes to you and offers to do the rest of your condition for you so you can take a rest, it would be very easy for you to accept the offer, especially if you were a leader and had many other responsibilities to fulfill. If the condition you set was a long one, perhaps one or two years, the offer might become very attractive.

One time the members made complete preparations for Father to escape prison. Everything was ready and waiting. However, when Father was informed of this plan, he did not take it. Father accepted every circumstance that came his way. He was ready to pay all the indemnity, make any sacrifice, in order to gain the victory in prison.

Father's unchanging love for the members

While in Hungnam, what Father worried about most was his members. When they had first met Father and heard Principle, they experienced much love and felt so joyful to be with him. They had pledged to follow this way all their life. It made Father feel very sad to hear of members becoming distant from the church. However, he never stopped praying for each person.

If a husband and wife have a serious disagreement between them, it is hard for them to talk deeply with each other. They may have pledged eternal love and faithfulness to each other, but if something happens to break this bond -- if one betrays the other, for instance -- it is difficult to restore it. It gives the faithful spouse great pain to see the other loving another person. If husbands and wives can break their vows, how much easier it is to end a friendship! To unite is often difficult, but to separate is easy.

These members had made an eternal promise to Father, but many of them could not keep it. Still, Father continued praying for them with an unchanging attitude. God made a covenant with man, but man has betrayed God many times, hundreds of times, thousands of times, millions of times. Still God has continued loving us, with an unchanging love. Father knows that part of God's situation very well, and thus he prayed for all the members with unchanging love and heart.

War begins

Towards the end of Father's time in prison, the Korean War broke out. The North Korean army invaded the South and occupied the whole country except for a small area around Pusan. The United Nations forces came to the aid of South Korea and made a landing at Inchon, causing the North Korean army to retreat. After Inchon, the UN forces should logically have headed towards Pyongyang and later Hungnam. But Hungnam was one of the important industrial cities of Korea, the site of five major munitions factories, which manufactured weapons used in the war. Thus, Hungnam was a principal objective of the United Nations forces. Many bombs were dropped by UN airplanes.

Even during the bombings the prisoners had to continue their forced labor. When an air raid alarm sounded, the guards could run to their bomb shelters, but the prisoners had no place to go. Bombs landed close enough that the force of their impact lifted a person as much as a meter [a little more than one yard] off the ground.

During one bombing raid, somebody told Father to move. Using his intuition, Father moved to a certain place. "Don't go far away from me," Father told the other prisoners. "If you stay within 12 meters of me, you will be safe." So the other prisoners followed Father wherever he went. A bomb fell exactly where Father had been standing and caused grave damage. If Father had remained there, he would have been killed.

Escape from execution

One of Father's followers in prison was a Christian minister, the president of the North Korean Christian association. He heard that the work was easier at a small branch prison of the main Hungnam concentration camp. Being older physically, he thought it would be a good idea to go there, but first he came to Father to ask his advice. Father told him it would be better for him to stay at Hungnam. Against Father's advice, however, this person asked to be transferred to the branch prison.

Father's first prison disciple, Mr. Kim, also came to Father and asked his advice about the same subject. "If you really want to go there, you may," Father counseled him; "but if something happens, please leave and come back here."

As the war continued, the North Korean army kept retreating north. The American navy landed off the coast of Hungnam and prepared to attack the city. In such a situation, prisoners should be transferred to another place, but the prison leaders met and decided to kill all the prisoners before the UN forces reached them.

They started the killings from the small, branch prison. Loading all the prisoners into trucks, they drove them to a mountainside and shot them one by one. The elderly minister who asked to be transferred was among those who were carried off and killed. Mr. Kim, also among that group, remembered what Father had told him. As he was riding on the truck, he managed to escape.

After killing all the prisoners from the branch prison, the communists came to the main Hungnam prison. First they ordered the prisoners to prepare three days' food supplies, to prevent them from suspecting what was in store for them, then lined them up and gave them shovels. As the prisoners' numbers were called, they lined up and moved out. The guards marched them to the hills in back of the prison, made them dig their own graves, and then shot them. After one group had been executed, another group was marched off and shot.

Father sensed that something was gravely wrong. Prisoners were taken away in groups and did not return. Also, in the distance, gunshots could be heard. So Father knew they were being killed. We can imagine how much pain Father felt in such a situation.

Eventually prisoners from Father's cell were summoned. Several people were called and shot. If Father's name had been called out, there would have been no way for him to escape. But sensing imminent danger to them because of the approaching UN forces, the communists stopped shooting and made their escape. The day was October 14, 1950.

Finally, after going through so many dangerous situations, Father was liberated. 

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