The Words of Kook Jin Moon from 2012

In court Kook Jin Nim offers solution to Yoido Project conflict

Tim Elder
April 20, 2012

artist's rendition of the Parc One Project on Yoido shows two office towers, a hotel and a shopping mall.

Kook Jin Nim Friday officially offered to end the conflict with the Kwak group over the Yoido land development by reimbursing UCI-owned Y22 for all "reasonable" costs, in return for Y22 returning the project to True Parents.

Testifying in Seoul High Court under oath and as legal representative of the Tongil Foundation, Kook Jin Nim was asked by the Foundation's own lawyer: "Is it correct that you are willing, on the condition that Y22 hands over the Yoido Project to the Plaintiff Foundation in accordance with the instruction of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, to hold the Plaintiff Foundation liable for the construction costs and other expenses that have so far been incurred in relation to the Project, so as not to inflict damage on Y22?"

He answered in the affirmative that the Foundation was willing pay for "reasonable" expenses that had been incurred by Y22.

The Foundation lawyer followed up with a second question: "Is it correct that you believe resolving the Yoido issue in the above-described manner would be consistent with the original purpose of the Yoido Project?"

Kook Jin Nim answered with a clear and simple "Yes."

The scene played out Friday in Seoul High Court, Room 309, where Kook Jin Nim testified as the only witness in a hearing that lasted from 3 p.m. to 5:25 pm. The 38 seats in the gallery were filled Unification Church members and Kwak Group supporters, with about another 30 standing along the courtroom walls. Scores more kept vigil outside during the proceedings.

Kook Jin Nim sat at a small table, facing the panel of three judges from their left at about a 45 degree angle. A court-appointed interpreter sat directly next to him on his left.

A Tongil Foundation lawyer also asked Kook Jin Nim about an idea proposed by some Kwak group supporters.

What if, the lawyer asked, Y22 sold a building to a third party in a way that would allow the Unification Church to lease back one to three floors of that building as its world headquarters?

"That," Kook Jin Nim replied, "would be like proposing that the Catholic Church sell the Vatican, and lease back two or three of the rooms as its headquarters."

During their cross examination, lawyers for Y22, the UCI-owned company currently pursuing the Yoido Project, asked Kook Jin Nim about his motives for filing suit against Y22.

Kook Jin Nim responded that he was instructed to file this suite by True Parents and the Tongil Foundation's board of directors.

At the conclusion of the testimony, Kook Jin Nim was invited by the chief judge to speak freely and add anything he might want to say.

Kook Jin Nim responded by summarizing his testimony, saying that Rev. Kwak Chung Hwan had told True Parents and Unification Church members all along that the Yoido Project belonged to True Parents and the Tongil Foundation. The understanding of True Parents was that Y22 would build the project and then turn it over to the Tongil Foundation, he said.

For years, Kook Jin Nim said, Rev. Kwak and Y22 frustrated efforts by him and Tongil Foundation staff to obtain substantive information on Y22 and the project. For example, it only became known to Tongil Foundation in the course of the current suit that Y22 was owned by Jesus Gonzalez, that Gonzalez donated Y22 to UCI in April 2006 and that UCI continues to own Y22 until today. Even such simple information was kept hidden, Kook Jin Nim, said.

It was this lack of transparency and failure by Y22 to establish a relationship of trust with Tongil Foundation that led him to consistently oppose the way the project was being pursued, he said.

Then, in the summer and early fall of 2010, South Korean media began reporting that Y22 was preparing to sign contracts on the forward sale of at least two of the buildings to be built on the land, he said. When this and the lack of transparency was reported to True Parents, True Parents instructed Tongil Foundation to go to court to stop the forward sales and get the project back for True Parents, Kook Jin Nim said.

"All I am asking," Kook Jin Nim said, "is for the original intent of this project be honored and for it to be returned to its rightful owner."

Today's hearing was the fourth in the appeal phase of the suit, in which Tongil Foundation is asking the court to nullify a May 2006 contract between Tongil Foundation and Y22 that gives Y22 a "right of superficies", or right to build on the land, in return for an annual rent payment equal to 5 percent of the government's assessed value of the land. The payment cannot increase by more than 5 percent in any given year, regardless of the rate of inflation.

According to the contract, the right of superficies extends to 99 years, and at the end of this period, Y22 is to return to Tongil Foundation at no cost any buildings it continues to own. There is an issue, however, that Y22 is structured as a special type of corporation that is not legally permitted to exist for more than 17 years.

The court announced that it would meet to consider the case in an additional hearing to be held on May 30. 

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