Hoon Sook (Julia) (Pak) Moon (wife of Heung Jin Moon)
Chosun Ilbo Interview with Mrs. Hoon Sook Moon on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of Her “Spirit Marriage” and the Founding of the Universal Ballet Company
[Following is an interview of Mrs. Hoon Sook Moon conducted by Mr. Bo Shik Choi, as it was printed by Chosun Ilbo (Korean news daily) on November 2, 2009.]
Mr. Choi: What do you think people are the most curious about when they think of you?
Mrs. Moon: I know the answer to that.
She laughed. There was an old picture of a young man on the back wall of her office.
It has been 25 years since the “spirit marriage” of Mrs. Moon to the deceased son of the Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church. It’s also been 25 years since the founding of the Universal Ballet Company.
Mrs. Moon: No one can be forced into a spirit marriage. I don’t obey my parents unconditionally. I am a free person and I made my own judgments from a certain age. I chose this course because I wanted to.
Mr. Choi: Wasn’t the spirit world marriage in accordance to the Unification Church marriage tradition, where you had to marry the person chosen for you?
Mrs. Moon: It could be thought of as merely a religious ceremony, but I have always believed in the eternal world that people must go to after death, and I have always believed that we should focus on the love of living for the sake of others rather than on the love that we receive from others. I chose that way because I believed it was right, and I have done my best to live that way.
Mr. Choi: Did you ever meet your husband in person?
Mrs. Moon: Yes, I did. I met him and we had even talked about getting married. Then there was the car accident in America. A large truck slipped on ice and crossed the centerline. At the time, he was riding with two friends, but only he, the driver, died. We had the spirit marriage in 1984, the same year that he died. I was 21 years old.
Mr. Choi: In ballet, you stand on the tip of your toes and you walk like a duck. It is an art form that goes against normal behavior and customs.
Mrs. Moon: Yes, it is abnormal. I found freedom in abnormal ballet.
Mr. Choi: As a ballerina with a free spirit, how could you accept such a religious ceremony without any conflict in your heart? Shouldn’t you have resisted and refused?
Mrs. Moon: If you don’t understand my religion, it is also difficult to understand why I made such a choice. We live in a chaotic world but I found teachings that were true, so I followed them. Art does not necessarily deny religion. On the contrary, art is influenced by religion, and it comes out of divine inspiration. If you go to cathedrals in Europe, you will find Michelangelo’s drawings. My teacher said, “Whenever I walk into a theater, it feels as though I am entering a church.” The stage itself is holy. It is where you express the inside of your soul. My teacher once said, “After a truly great performance, the audience should feel clean, as though they had just taken a shower. That is the role of art. However, nowadays, there are many times that you want to go home and take a shower after watching a performance.”
Mr. Choi: Are you really certain that there is a world after death?
Mrs. Moon: Yes, although I have never seen it. I believe in the “eternal.” I don’t think that human beings are simply pieces of meat. After this world, we will leave our body, as we would take off our clothes, and live for eternity.
Mr. Choi: So basically, you are living alone in this world, but I don’t think you are special. There are many people who choose celibacy as monks, priests or nuns.
Mrs. Moon: People tell me that they think it must be tough to live alone. Although there are some difficult aspects to living alone, there are also difficult aspects to living with someone else. Although it is possible to get hurt from being lonely, it is also possible to get hurt due to a difficult relationship. Therefore, I don’t think that living alone is more difficult; I think it presents different sorts of challenges. It takes more effort to live together with someone else. Love must be continually cultivated. I am a very romantic person. I cultivate my love while thinking about that person in heaven.
Mr. Choi: It wouldn’t be so easy for you to say such a thing if you had been actually living with your husband.
Mrs. Moon: You could be right. I could be talking about something imaginary that has no substance. However, I like being idealist.
Mr. Choi: What does it mean for someone in your position to adopt and raise children?
She is raising a son (17) and a daughter (7), whom she adopted from two of her brothers-in-law. Her daughter has started taking ballet courses.
Mrs. Moon: Well, it was a recommendation by my parents, and adoption has been around for a long time. Of course, it’s difficult for the children. But they grow through it. Although parents discipline their children, there are many cases in which the parents mature through raising their children. That is life, isn’t it?
Mr. Choi: You were the first Korean to be a soloist for the Washington Ballet Company, and you also danced Giselle for the Russian Kirov Ballet Company. You were praised a lot for playing Giselle -- who is an unmarried woman that falls in love, isn’t she?
Mrs. Moon: Ballet is all about love. Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, Giselle, Chunhyang are good examples of ballets related to love.
Mr. Choi: Have you ever felt for a male dancer or a fan the kind of feelings that men and women feel?
Mrs. Moon: I am human, too, so how could I not? Don’t you think it’s natural to feel something when someone likes you? Sometimes we feel, “I like that person,” right? I am not a tree or a stone. I am a person. That doesn’t mean that I should allow my life to become disorderly.
Mr. Choi: Did you overcome those feelings with your willpower?
Mrs. Moon: I married one man, but that man represents all the men in the world, so if I love that person, then it is like loving all the men in the world. That is what I was taught as I grew up-
Mr. Choi: Did your thoughts change about what you had been taught after getting older and gaining more life experiences?
Mrs. Moon: I’m sure that would be the case for some people. It must be different for each person. For me, as I get older, I am more and more convinced that what I was taught is truly correct.
Mr. Choi: The Universal Ballet Company was made after the spirit marriage, was it not?
Mrs. Moon: Yes.
Mr. Choi: Was it the price for the spirit marriage?
Mrs. Moon: You think that I was promised a ballet company in return for marrying Reverend Moon’s deceased son? That is ridiculous. When I look back at what happened, it is mysterious. My father (Bo Hi Pak, the number two man in the Unification Church) was leading the Little Angels performing arts group. I was born in America and started ballet there, then moved to Korea when I was 8 and joined the Little Angels, and enrolled at the Sun Hwa Arts Middle School. I had to choose a major between Korean dance, singing and the gayageum. At that time, a ballet teacher came from America. Naturally, I majored in ballet. My teacher had a dream of founding a ballet company in Korea. It usually takes eight years to train a ballerina. It was a coincidence that the ballet company was founded in the same year that I got married.
Mr. Choi: Are you telling me that there was no direct connection between your spirit marriage and the founding of the ballet company?
Mrs. Moon: There was no connection whatsoever… Father did say to me, “You must now devote all your passion into your work in the arts.”
Mr. Choi: Doesn’t it annoy you that you are always followed by a religious label instead of just being recognized for your ability as a ballerina?
Mrs. Moon: It was through my faith that I could distinguish between right and wrong, so it is something that I am grateful for. But what I did was pure art. Yeong Ok Shin, Su Mi Jo, Su Jin Kang and other world-famous artists are also alumni of the Little Angels and Sun Hwa Arts School.
Mr. Choi: Through being a part of your religion, you received a lot of support for your ballet performances, did you not?
Mrs. Moon: Realistically, we were supported by the “group,” so we were very blessed. But now we are trying to become independent. When I was dancing, my life was only about ballet. I thought life was like that for everyone. However, when I retired in 2001 due to an injury, I took the lead of the ballet company and met many people. I was shocked when I found out that most people had never seen a ballet in their lives. Therefore, we made a dance that was part ballet and part musical, and I’ve started giving an explanation of the ballet before we perform. We even added subtitles. Some critics say, “Ballet itself is a language so how could you add subtitles?” but I said we were doing “kind ballet.”
Mr. Choi: You danced from when you were seven until you were thirty-nine. However, you never announced that you were retiring, and you never gave a performance before you retired, did you?
Mrs. Moon: I couldn’t. I didn’t want to. It would have been too sorrowful for me, because it would have meant that I would never dance again.
Mr. Choi: Are you thinking of returning to the stage again?
Mrs. Moon: I cannot dance anymore. Someone encouraged me to dance at the 20th anniversary of the founding of our company. Since it was three years since my injury, in a way I wanted to do it. But I didn’t think I could fully devote myself to both dancing and running the company. So I never was able to give a final greeting to my audience, which troubles me since I feel that I ended my career without proper manners. But I think I would be sad to do a retirement performance.
Mr. Choi: People can be barred from dancing if they stop dancing for a while, right?
Mrs. Moon: When I hear music, I naturally want to dance. My body moves. When I sit in the audience and watch the stage, I feel that I have become a peasant when I used to be a princess. It’s as if I lost my crown…
Mr. Choi: You must have cried a lot when you felt that way.
Mrs. Moon: I didn’t cry, knowing that it was something inevitable that all dancers must experience sooner or later.
Mr. Choi: How does one decide when to retire?
Mrs. Moon: When you can no longer dance as well as you used to, you should not go on stage anymore. If today is worse than yesterday and you don’t think that tomorrow will be better than today.
Mr. Choi: Who can tell such a small difference?
Mrs. Moon: Dancers can tell. There is a saying that, “If a dancer doesn’t practice for one day, then she will know the difference; if she doesn’t practice for two days, then her teacher will know; if she doesn’t dance for three days, then her audience will know.” Therefore, our dancers work six days a week. I put my foot down that five days is not enough.
Mr. Choi: I heard that, as a ballerina, you wished that your legs were 2 cm longer. I heard that you let your nails get longer so that your arms and legs would look longer.
Mrs. Moon: I cannot say that my body is ideal for ballet. My arms are short. My face is a little big -- nowadays dancers’ faces are as small as a single bean and their backs are long. Dancers who lack in physical attributes try to make up for it by developing their lines (of their bodies) or their ability to express themselves through dance.
Mr. Choi: It’s tough being a dancer, isn’t it?
Mrs. Moon: It’s heavy labor. Especially right before you go on stage you always want to run away. The world-famous singer Pavarotti once said in an interview that his worst enemy is the moment before he goes on stage; it’s the one moment that he wanted to avoid.
Mr. Choi: How did you overcome those moments?
Mrs. Moon: I could overcome those moments because I liked dancing. Once the curtains went up, I became caught up in dancing. Once you know the taste of ballet, it’s hard to get away from it. There is great ecstasy and joy when your body becomes one with the music. After the performance, I was always the last person remaining in the theater. I was so full of energy that I could not go home.
Mr. Choi: You always give the impression that you are confined.
Mrs. Moon: Once someone who knew me said that. That person told me to come out of the greenhouse. I was just really passionate about ballet, but that person could not understand me. In the past, I was afraid to meet people.
Mr. Choi: What do you do when you get mad?
Mrs. Moon: I walk. I walk without any destination. I used to walk a lot as a ballerina. I would think a lot while I was walking, sometimes cry, or go shopping -- which is normal for women. Sometimes I would just go window shopping.
The original article may be found here: news.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2009/11/01/2009110100840.html
Translation by Tossa Cromwell (HSA-UWC USA HQ)