The Words of Hyung Jin Moon From 2011

Hyung Jin Moon's visit to North Korea - Interview of Sang Gwon Park

December 17, 2011

Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, Mr. Sang Gwon Park and others, including Japanese leaders, bring a wreath and bouquets of flowers to be placed in front of a large portrait of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square on December 24. The wording on the ribbon reads "We wish eternal life for respected Kim Jong Il, Chairman of the National Defense Commission."

On December 17, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died, and his country was plunged into mourning. Although Hyung Jin Nim had just the day before returned from Pyongyang to South Korea, within a week he would be leading a delegation back to the North Korean capital. Pyeonghwa Motors president Sang Gwon Park gave us these personal insights.

Question: What made Hyung Jin Nim return to North Korea for Kim Jong Il's funeral?

Twenty years ago, Father visited North Korea and met Kim 11 Sung. Now, this December, almost exactly two decades later, Hyung Jin Nim has visited North Korea twice, December 9-16 and December 24-30. The timing of these visits was very good, even dramatic.

Hyung Jin Nim had flown to America to report to Father about the first visit to North Korea, and on that day it was announced that Kim Jong Il had died. Father then asked Hyung Jin Nim to immediately go back to North Korea and convey condolences.

As Father said for us to go back to North Korea quickly, we wrote another fax to them saying, "We'd like to come." They replied, "Please come quickly." But there was no easy way to go quickly. So we thought to go overland, through the DMZ. They opened the DMZ to us [on the North side], and the Republic of Korea also opened the way for us specially and exclusively. Usually the government doesn't approve non-citizens crossing the DMZ but we received special approval.

South Korean people can usually go as far as Gaeseong, but the government allowed us to travel all the way to Pyongyang. Both the North and South Korean governments helped our team this time. That is good for our church. The countries on both sides of the line truly assisted us very much. As one of the party that travelled through and back, I felt it was extremely significant.

Question: What did you do while you were there?

We attended the funeral of course. Those of us who had gone from South Korea are American citizens but the North Korean officials treated us as Koreans. We were next to the widow of former South Korean president Kim Dae Jung Hee Ho Lee and Hyundai Group chairwoman Jeon Geun Hyun in offering condolences. We were officially invited to the ceremonies on both days -- the funeral on December 28 and a time for remembrance on the 29th.

Some days before that we had offered a wreath at the main site for paying last respects to the deceased North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. In addition, we went to one of the smaller places set up for citizens to pay their respects, near our hotel. We went at three o'clock in the morning, and even then many people were coming. We expressed our condolences, signed our names and wrote some words in the visitors' book.

In the course of paying our respects to the late Kim Jong Il, we were able to greet his son and successor, Kim Jong Un and express our condolences personally.

A video capture of Hyung Jin Nim speaking to Kim Jong Un, a fellow youngest son and new leader of North Korea.

Question: Were you able to talk with him and form an impression?

Hyung Jin Nim spoke to him for a minute or so. He told us that he said to the new young leader that Chairman Sun Myung Moon had sent us to convey condolences, and that many people in the Unification movement throughout the world have the same heart. He had expressed his hope that the young leader would find the courage and strength for the tasks ahead, and expressed his desire to help and support North Korea for peaceful reunification.

President Dong Moon Joo said to Kim Jong Un that although he is aware of the issues with the United States, he would offer to help facilitate making of good relationships in order to bring the United States and North Korea together..."

As I am a businessman, I said to him "I will make the automobile company go well; and in the future, I will work to help alleviate this country's economic difficulties."

So all three of us met the new leader, Kim Jong Un; we all shook his hand. His hand was very warm. He said "Thank you." That's how it was.

While we were in North Korea, Kim Jong Un gave all of our delegation hotel accommodations and meals free of charge. He gave the Pyongyang citizens hot water to drink and warm places for them to shelter. During ten days or so, I felt he did many good things for his people. He seems to be someone with a lot of compassion. He seems to want to do a lot for his countrymen. Perhaps he can become a very good president for his country. That's the impression I got. We hope that everything will go well, and that we can develop a good relationship.

However, it's not that we can swiftly build a close relationship; it's going to take some time. It could even be a problem if we made too close a relationship with him too soon after the death of his father.

Wherever Hyung Jin Nim went, he was very well received, especially by the North Korean officials. They would say to me, "Oh Hyung Jin Moon is a truly religious person. He is a good person. We don't want to send him back to the South." They said the same about Yeon Ah Nim too. "We'd like them to be here in this country."

No matter who Hyung Jin Nim spoke with, their exchange was joyful. On the first visit, Hyung Jin Nim had met the Supreme People's Assembly chairman, Mr. Yong Nam Kim. During this second visit, they met again and had dinner together. Chairman Kim told me he had genuinely enjoyed meeting and talking with Hyung Jin Nim.

Mr. Yang Gon Kim, the Minister of Unification in North Korea, also spoken with Hyung Jin Nim at a banquet and they got on very well. He has a very high position, but he felt he could trust Hyung Jin Nim and was greatly inspired by him. Wherever he goes, Hyung Jin Nim makes a good impression on those he meets.

Left: Hyung Jin Nim speaks with North Korean Unification Minister Yang Gon Kim at a banquet in honor of Chairman Kim Jong Il; note that North Koreans often wear a red Kim II Sung pin; Right: A receiving line during the process of offering condolences

Question: Father initiated something twenty years ago when he visited Pyongyang. Has it been possible to build on that?

Father was able to go to North Korea twenty years ago. I have been working in North Korea for eighteen years. In that time I have never once missed President Kim Il Sung's birthday celebration. And I have been going there continuously every month, and building good relationships with them on behalf of True Parents. And so these relationships have become strong. That's the foundation True Father made.

Question: And the South Korean government is supportive.

If a person really wishes for unification and wishes to work for unification, he should be able to communicate with North Korea as well as with the South Korean government. That's my belief. If he can communicate with only one side, he will be of no help in achieving unification. Therefore, he should deal honestly with both the South and the North. I believe that only a forthright person can communicate and work well with both sides. I work honestly, which is why I am able to undertake this.

Question: How do you think our Unification movement can help in the relationship between North Korea and South Korea?

I speak about that even when I go to the North. Because Father Moon loves North Korea, all members of the Unification Church around the world love North Korea. In keeping with that, the first and most important way we can offer support for North Korea is through prayer. Prayer for North Korea is very important. Pray, pray for North Korea; that's very important -- more so than money or rice. Pray first.

What should we pray for? First, our wish for God to protect this nation. Second, for the Koreas to come together in unity. And third that they do not go to war. Pray that North and South Korea do not fight each other.

Some North Korean people have only meager supplies of food and may even be starving. We worry very deeply about these issues. If we can, I think we should help in these matters -- even with material things.

Every morning during our visits, Hyung Jin Nim held Hoon Dok Hae at five o'clock and offered 120 full bows. Then he offered very sincere prayer. He prayed for Kim Jong Il, Chairman of the National Defense Commission, to go to a good place in the spirit world. We prayed for that. Perhaps no one else prayed for that. We prayed sincerely for his soul. In this regard, I feel we did something very meaningful.

We had to remain at the hotel during much of the six days we were there. So when we could not do anything else, we prayed from our hearts for things to go well for the country and its people. We prayed a lot.

Question: Though most people in South Korea are not thinking much about reunification, you are still optimistic.

On the matter of reunification, some people do not want it. Others are not even interested in unification. However, if you are a Korean and they are Koreans, you should wish for unification. It is only right to wish for it. Were South Korea and North Korea united, Korea would be twice as large and there would be more people populating the nation. Only then would we be able to join the ranks of the more advanced nations, be better off financially, become a central nation in Northeast Asia, and not be under the thumb of strong powers. In short, only when we are united will the people in both the South and the North live happily.

As believers in God, we should try to save the North Korean people by bringing about the unification of the Koreas, so that we can all join hands and live together. Our church is the Unification Church, so we have to pray for unification between North and South. I believe that all Korean people should think of this as their duty.

Question: As a person who saw it first-hand, how did North Koreans seem to take the death of Kim Jong Il?

Everyone cried a lot. Many foreigners believe that their sorrow was feigned, and that they cried because they were forced to. I don't think so. I felt that they were crying from their heart. It is inhuman to think that the tears they shed were all false. I believe they meant it, and that they were sincerely mourning Kim Jong Il. They loved him.

Another thing was that it snowed a lot during the funeral service. I heard it hasn't snowed so much in fifty or sixty years. Because of the snow, the funeral took an extra two hours. People said that it was very peculiar to have so much snow. Also, many birds, including Korean magpies, came and perched here and there without flying away, so some people said that even the magpies were mourning the death of Kim Jong Il.

I see that the North Korean people have lost no time in establishing Kim Jong Un as their new leader, right after Kim Jong Il's death and that no conflicts have arisen in the process. I believe this displays a national characteristic. I also believe that the North Koreans will overcome their grief, become stable, and live as they had before in no time at all. 

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