Articles From the November 1994 Unification News
The Long Road to Pyongyang
William P. Selig
An eyewitness report on the events leading up to the historic reconciliation between Rev. Sun Myung Moon and the late President Kim Il Sung
The following brief report was compiled by William Selig from notes from a speech given by Antonio Betancourt at the Washington, D.C. Church on Sept. 24, 1994. In it he emphasized that in order to understand the providence of the Korean peninsula in 1994, it is necessary to review recent events, especially the history of the American Church in the late `70s and early `80s.
The strategy of Satan was to destroy Father's foundation because if Father's foundation could be destroyed, there would be no way that America could fulfill her responsibilities regarding God's headache of international communism.
In 1976, after the Washington Monument victory, Satan's strategy was to completely discredit Father; to bring him to the level in which he had to negotiate with America, either to leave America and stay in Korea, or stay here and face jail, persecution, character assassination, and to possibly become a person of no consequence.
God helped in a very interesting way. As Father was losing credit in the United States, God was developing a parallel strategy in Latin America. In God's eyes, the Americas are one. The discovery of America was not the discovery of just North America or the Caribbean, but the discovery of America. For God, north, central and south are one America.
The providence moved to the south through the CAUSA movement. Father's whole strategy of the CAUSA movement was to protect America and allow this country to confront international communism by developing a strategy that would challenge Moscow. The whole strategy in Latin America had as an aim to support Father's providence so Father could stand firmly on the U.S. frontline.
This strategy was accomplished. CAUSA was very successful in Latin America in the early 1980s. Later on we began the CAUSA movement in the U.S. which was followed by the American Constitution Committee (ACC) and American Freedom Coalition (AFC). We put together all the resources at Father's disposal, particularly The Washington Times and brothers and sisters in Washington, New York and all over the country.
Eventually, it is history that we were able to support the United States in this big confrontation with international communism. Father's victories in America brought as a consequence a leadership that was able to force the Soviet Union to bring another kind of leadership that could negotiate with America in the best interest of both and for the advancement of world peace, namely Mikhail Gorbachev.
For years since Washington Monument, we heard Father speak about the march on Moscow. The interesting thing is that we were thinking of an actual march. Here it was, April 11, 1990, and the march on Moscow was taking place but there was no march in the dictionary sense of the word. Yet, Father marched with about 40 former heads of state and government into the Kremlin for the historical visit and embrace with then-President Mikhail Gorbachev.
After the victory in Moscow and that historical reconciliation, Father gave the direction to go into China and Pyongyang. We began an offensive, a diplomatic offensive in China that made us go into the south and build this gigantic project, an automobile factory, which is not operational and is still in the process of revision. But, and this is very important, Panda already worked in one sense. It created the necessary clout and psychological impact to make the people in Pyongyang take Father and our Movement seriously.
At that time, Father directed me to visit the embassy of any country that had relations with Pyongyang and introduce our Movement. In trying to unite with Father, I was kicked out of many embassies. One was the Pyongyang embassy in Beijing. After I introduced Father, they accused me of deceiving them. "We thought you were just a Colombian and you were heading this international organization (i.e., the Summit Council). We never thought that you were an agent of that fascist Moon," and so forth, they said.
They said, "If Moon is serious to engage with our country, first of all he has to repent publicly. He has to apologize for the pain that he has caused our leader and our country for the last 40 years."
In my briefcase, I carried many photographs of Father and Dr. Pak with all the top leaders in Beijing and Moscow, Father with Gorbachev and Dr. Pak with Li Peng and the senior leadership in China. I said, "Look, Rev. Moon and the Unification Church were the enemies of Moscow and Beijing as they have been of Pyongyang. Neither of them asked for repentance in order to engage, and look at these pictures." I showed them the photos of the Panda plans and property. "This is what we are building in southern China. This is Dr. Pak with Li Peng and the PRC President. This is Rev. Moon with Gorbachev. Why should he repent to your country? Besides, if you ask the repentance of Rev. Moon, you have to repent for the things that you have done to our Movement and to Rev. Moon. In 1987 you sent a task force of terrorists to kill him, which was uncovered by the FBI and Rev. Moon was told that you were after him."
The ambassador got completely crazy, and screamed, "Get out, out of my embassy!" Anyway, it's a very long history. Through various channels, we were able to enter Pyongyang in April 1991, one year after the victory in Moscow. Father was insisting that he needed results right away. We were able to convince the North Koreans that Rev. Moon was indeed their friend now, and that Rev. Moon had initiated together with the entire Unification Movement a process of healing and reconciliation towards the DPRK and that we could be their best friend, and help them to connect with the whole world.
It was very, very difficult, but we were able to engage them. We created the International Commission for the Peaceful Reunification of the Korea in September 1991. They were very pleased with the founding of that commission. Through the Commission and a number of overtures, on Nov. 30, 1991 an invitation was extended to Father and Mother to enter Pyongyang. On December 6th, they had their first encounter with Kim Il Sung, in the place where Father departed in 1952. Forty years earlier, Father had departed from Hungnam as a broken man, a man without a mission. The key advisors to Kim Il-sung advised him not to receive Rev. Moon in the place where he departed because psychologically they knew the meaning of this. Yet he decided to meet Rev. Moon in Hungnam where Kim Il Sung had built a beautiful palace.
Father was able to extract an agreement with the DPRK government in the form of a 10 point communique. This had the effect of upsetting South Korea and Japan enormously because it made Father the key player in the process of peace in the peninsula. This was something absolutely intolerable to them. As a consequence, Father had to pay a very big price. Shortly after Father's visit, the Movement experienced its most severe persecution ever. It centered on our financial structure in Japan and created the biggest burden in our Movement's history. In Korea and Japan, the goal of our enemies was to destroy the pipeline of money to the Movement. They succeeded to a large extent, but it wasn't enough to defeat Father.
Our Movement in Korea and Japan almost financially disintegrated. Although the North Koreans recognized what was happening, instead of moving away from our Movement because we were poor, we instead became closer. What Father couldn't give the Koreans in financial support, he gave them in moral support, vision and clarity, in order to help fulfill their most important goal - to establish direct dialogue and settle their relations with the most consequential country in the world - the United States of America.
Father has been behind the Summit Council and helped mobilize the muscle of the former heads of state and government who are part of our International Commission, a former Governor General of Canada, a former president of Costa Rica and numerous other key leaders. Utilizing quiet diplomacy, Father has been working to convince this country that:
1. It is in the interest of the U.S. to dialogue directly with the DPRK.
2. The Koreas cannot allow the situation of the nuclear weapons problem and the problems in the peninsula to be dealt with only between themselves; that it must be led by the United States as the undisputed leader of the free world.
3. This problem is so big and so immense that South Korea cannot solve it alone!
Through the Summit Council, Father has been able to bring the U.S. and the DPRK together. I cannot give you all the details because of lack of space and also because it's very sensitive information, but we have been behind a lot of the back-door diplomacy in what has been accomplished so far.
Nevertheless, we cannot just bring the U.S. and DPRK together alone. We need to bring South Korea, the U.S. and the DPRK together because Father's role is to serve as the peacemaker and harmonizer, and the unifying force for North and South Korea.
Eventually South Korea will understand where its interests are because so far they are blurred. They don't understand what their interests are in the long term. They go along with what the U.S. is doing with the DPRK but with a high degree of resentment, anger and frustration.
Presently, our efforts are focused on helping the South Koreans to comprehend their long-term interests. In the meanwhile, this is allowing the North to slowly come out of the ice. They cannot melt overnight because it would be very destabilizing for South Korea and the region.
We have to create the political and financial mechanisms in order to help them come out of the situation in a face-saving manner. The resolution of the nuclear issue is critical. We are involved in that process. Father gave us five points, and it's important to understand these five points when people ask what is Rev. Moon doing in North Korea and why is the religious leader of the Unification Church involved in North Korea. These five points parallel the interests of South Korea.
WAR IS NOT AN OPTION. We have to avoid war at any cost because the next war, according to Father, will be to the death, a gladiator's war. That is not an option. It must be avoided at all costs. We have to mobilize all the resources within and outside the Unification Church to prevent war.
THE PENINSULA MUST BE DENUCLEARIZED. Therefore, the nuclear weapons problem of North Korea must be resolved. In order to achieve number one and number two, we have to win trust because they haven't trusted anyone. The first person, the first movement that they have trusted in the last 40 years is us. So the trust that we have built with them is not for us, it is for South Korea, the United States and the regional powers, so that it can be used by the regional powers for the resolution of this problem.
REUNION OF SEPARATED FAMILIES. A database must be created that identifies where these families are in the north and in the south. We can begin with a small group, one family, two families, three families, and start to bring them together. This should be done within the next year. The DPRK has committed itself to give that project to us because we are the only ones who can do it selflessly, without looking for our own profit. Everybody else has some ulterior motive.
PROSPERITY MUST BE BROUGHT TO NORTH KOREA. We have to help restructure the economy of that country. As they prosper and achieve financial independence individually, next they will want security to protect their new prosperity. Naturally political reforms will be demanded by the public, but we don't want it the other way around because it's proven that a country that first obtains political freedoms does not necessarily develop economically. One very visible example is Latin America. Despite political freedoms for the last 150 years, there has been little economic development. It has taken too long. The DPRK needs to have normal financial and diplomatic relations with the rest of the world as soon as possible. The Summit Council is assisting in this area.
PREPARATION FOR UNIFICATION. Eventually North and South Korea must unify. This is in accordance with God's will and the flow of history. But unification must be accomplished with the least amount of pain - human and financial.
These five points are the motivation and purpose behind our Movement's work in Korea. We can proclaim it anywhere because they are perfectly sound and noble. People will resent it because they are jealous or frustrated, and because they have 40 years of struggle with the North's ugly history, and because of the Korean War that killed more than 2 million people. But for God's purposes, these criticisms must be put aside. From a religious perspective, we have to be able to forgive and to love.
From a political perspective, we have to think pragmatically: What is in the best interest of the United States? What are the interests of Japan? What are the interests of the regional powers? And above all, what are the interests of the Republic of Korea? Is the resolution of this problem worth one, two, or three million lives? The answer is no.
The victory of the Summit Council is not my victory or Dr. Pak's victory. It is the victory of True Parents together with all of the members who have been paying indemnity for that. We pay collective indemnity, which we can call salvific energy. Salvific energy is created, then Father uses it to collect something.
Our relationship with the DPRK is strong, but we are not agents of juche or of North Korea. We are agents of heaven and our goal is the final resolution of this problem so that we can have peace in the peninsula. And God's providence may be achieved without bloodshed and without economic losses.
Thank you for your prayers and your support.
[As this article was being prepared, on Oct. 21, 1994, the United States and DPRK signed a Framework Agreement in Geneva that, if implemented, will resolve the nuclear issue, reduce trade restrictions and normalize diplomatic relations between the two historic enemies. The Agreement is the beginning of a new era in relations between the countries of Northeast Asia and lifts a tremendous burden off the shoulders of True Parents.]
Antonio Betancourt, Executive Director of the Summit Council for World Peace, assisted Dr. Pak as an emissary that arranged True Parents' hometown visit in November-December 1991, as well as many of the subsequent high-level visits to Pyongyang. Antonio was virtually the only non-Korean present at the funeral of Kim Il Sung.
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