The Words of Young Oon Kim

Letters From Vietnam

Young Oon Kim
March 1968
New Age Frontiers

Letter From David Flores
Duc Pho,

Dear Miss Kim,

Greetings to you and to all the Family in D. C. and area.

I send my love to you and pray for your further success in that area. I hope all is well and that those who live there are growing well.

As for me, I am in excellent health, though a little tired. For the past three days we have been wading through rice paddies and searching out small villages. Our area of operation is in and around Duc Pho, a small town about 350 miles northeast of Saigon.

The areas we have covered are very green (rice) and there are many gardens in the midst. At present I am sitting in a garden where squashes, onions, tomatoes, pumpkins, coconuts and eggplants and hot peppers are grown. Here and there are stalks of corn along with banana trees as well. We are flanked by green mountains to the west and north. There is a small river which runs by here and the whole area is just beautiful. I am really surprised.

Now, the main reason for my writing: Again, it is to request advice from you. As you know, I am no longer working as a clerk but as an infantryman. There was absolutely no way for me to avoid this assignment. Had I been more insistent in Germany about changing my MOS to clerk, I might have avoided this, but as it stands I will be combing rice paddies and carrying a gun for a year. Though we have had no actual encounters with VC, I don't expect that we can go a year without this. Already we have found many storage areas of excessive rice, black cloth, ammunition, etc. in our small area of operation.

My question is, what should my attitude about killing be? Regardless of how one looks at it, it is immoral and against God's law. Can I really proclaim God's message and carry a gun in my hand? Though some may think that we are defending our country and way of life, to include religion, I don't think murder is ever a part of God's plan. On the other hand since I am here, should I shoot back in self-defense or in defense of my comrades? To disobey an order to shoot could mean five years in prison or life imprisonment. Were this a declared war it would mean death. One fellow I know is already in jeopardy of this course of events because he believes it is against God's law to kill.

It is a farce for one to think he is defending his country. Our nation needs no defense against North Vietnam by means of this illegal, immoral and unjust war. Will God forgive me if I kill in self-defense? If not, then I might as well decide a course to take -- either prison or spiritual death. Please give me your thoughts on this matter.

I long to write and say more but time does not permit. I hope and pray that all is well with Family. Please give my greetings to Phil, Rebecca, Marty, and everyone else. Linna, Nora, Sylvia,

Once again I bid farewell and wait for your reply.

In His Name,


Reply From Miss Kim (Excerpts)
Young Oon Kim
Washington, D. C.

Dear David,

I have been rather worried about you since the street fighting started in Saigon and major cities in Vietnam. I am very happy to hear from you and am thankful to know that you are okay. Thank you for your previous letter, which I shared with others, and we appreciated your report.

In both letters I see two major questions: One is, why do we not explain the Divine Principle differently from the textbook, to appeal to the people more broadly? You wonder why it must be so conservative and Biblical and Oriental. This is why many have asked in America and in Europe as well. Many working in America have tried to find a more broad method to appeal to the American populace.

I encountered the same problem many times, and I felt that I would like to change the terminology which seems to be distasteful to the ears of ordinary people. I often felt that we should not include the conclusion in our lecture, which again stumbles many people. I have been rather stubborn in maintaining the original text of the Principle, and because of this there has often been a strong feeling of rejection toward me.

I face this problem time and time again. In fact, our Leader himself is facing this problem. Divine Principle is as strange a language and concept to Orientals as it is to Americans. Certainly it is not a modern concept or language to them at all. Even though their thought is less sophisticated and their heart is less hardened by worldly things because they do not have physical amenities like the West, it is not easy for them to accept the Principle either.

There is less distraction in their search for God. Their hearts are hungry, their spirits thirsty for God and His care because there is little physical comfort to please them. But certainly the Divine Principle is not a readily acceptable message to them. Even though there are less material comforts, scientific knowledge and awareness of latest developments in all fields sweep the world through the mass media. There is no gap in their understanding of current discoveries and events, and therefore no cultural vacuum into which Divine Principle can slip easily. Besides journals and translations, many Orientals were educated in the West and receive scholarly publications and news magazines directly. If the Divine Principle is distasteful to the ears of urban Americans, it is just as distasteful to urban Koreans.

If we are to change the presentation of the Divine Principle to suit the American thinking, certainly it can’t fit the thinking of the Germans. If we modify it to fit German thought, it will be distasteful to the French mind. If it is pleasant to the French ears, it will be distasteful to the English ears. And the English presentation may not appeal to the Italians and Spanish. The Latin approach would not fit the Japanese. The Japanese method will not appeal to Hindu thought. The Hindu approach will antagonize the Moslems. The Moslem approach will be Greek to the Chinese.

Which method should we choose, then?

If the presentation of Principle is to be modified so that the scientist can agree, it will not be agreeable to the artist. If we are to modify it to appeal to artistic sensibility, philosophers will disagree. If we use the philosophical approach, pragmatic people like farmers and businessmen won’t understand. We cannot present the Principle to please the social scientist and psychologist without alienating the fundamentalists. If we please the fundamentalist, then liberally-minded people will be upset.

Toward whose viewpoint should we modify the Principle?

My thought traveled in these areas many, many times and I discussed this matter also with our Leader. Each time he insisted that we should use one textbook for every country and person, and standardize our teaching. Sometimes I feel I am torn between him and you all. But considering all these above-mentioned difficulties, I see why our Leader insists. Not only is a universally acceptable modification of the Principle impossible, but any attempt in this direction will be disastrous because the true content will be lost in the change. Therefore, I think our Leader is most wise to insist on one method.

Japanese people after World War II experienced a spiritual vacuum. Our members are, in the majority, born during or after the War. Divine Principle had meaning for them where Japanese religion had none. Therefore, the membership has increased in number somewhat abnormally there. Also, it is their national characteristic to follow absolutely once they accept a leader. They identify themselves wholly with the teaching and each one is dedicated and active. There are no members who didn’t take part in trash collection and street preaching. Even now a great number of them sell flowers, whether they are undergraduates or have master's degrees. Every day they sell flowers and preach on the street. Like the army, once it is decided, they perform without question. This is a unique national characteristic.

Their obedience to orders, cooperativeness, and sacrificial spirit are the main factors of their success. Do the Westerners have the same qualities in their national character? Westerners are so individualistic. They must rationalize every command and they always try to find the easy way instead of straight suffering. This kind of attitude may bring success in the Satanic world, but not in the heavenly world. It was not different presentation of the Principle but their attitude toward the movement that brought their growth in Japan.

Last year, when our Leader could not obtain the American visa, he decided to bless the Japanese members anyway, though he could not come to the western world.. The Japanese members refused to be blessed. He had chosen certain candidates, but they refused for this reason; The work in Japan has just started. If some married, the work would regress in the resulting check of progress. Can this attitude be found in the western world? I often hear the expression of desire for marriage when one is absolutely not ready in spirit and one has no concern about the progress of the whole movement, but just wants to be blessed in marriage. This is a most selfish attitude. But it is one I hear expressed.

Such people place the blame for the movement's not progressing fast enough either on me or on the Principle, without examining themselves.

Some members seem to think that it is an easy message for the Koreans to accept and therefore they were able to get many strong members. This is not true. It is just as difficult there as here to get strong members.

I have seen members who attempted to dilute the Principle and who lost spiritual power and gradually declined and dropped out, one by one. However, those who teach faithfully according to the textbook get successful results and spirit world works through them, not through those who are diluting. The depth of the Principle is not known to many people. Those who do not know the depth have no right to change the expression.

However, I have been encouraging members to use diverse, creative methods in contacting people and introducing them to the Principle. I encourage people to lecture each chapter straight, However, I also encourage them to bring all their knowledge and experience to bear on answering the questions which their students raise after the lecture. In this way we can standardize the lecture and give full explanation to insure understanding.

The concept and the feeling of God is so distant from the mind of modern people. Hence, to bring anything about God into their thinking cannot be easy. It is not just the Principle that is remote, but God Himself is also.

As I have said many times before, we are now building the foundation of the new America. If we make all effort to obtain great numbers of wishy-washy people without true understanding of the Principle, we can never build a firm foundation. God can never trust those people. Do you think this is the success of our movement? We are to establish an unwavering tradition and a precise, clear pattern of life for our posterity to follow unmistakenly so that things can be established.

When our vertical relationship with God and with our Leader is firmly established our movement should expand horizontally. Can this be done with half-baked people?

I will attempt to answer your second question. I am convinced that any ideology can be destroyed by a higher ideology, not by weapons, Here I feel great responsibility of expanding our movement and spreading this message as widely and quickly as possible. Communists will change their ideology only when they hear the Principle.

But when they use military force and threaten people in order to bring them to their side, the innocent people must be protected in some way and be allowed to live as they would like. Is this not the reason American soldiers are sent to Vietnam -- to check the Communist invasion and protect the free people? When military means are successful, the Communist invasion will be checked, just as Hitler's Nazism was checked by military force.

You said this war is not declared. Declared or undeclared -- this is a political matter. To check evil, whether it is declared or undeclared, the war has a just purpose. The sad aspect of this war is its great prolongation. Because of the guerrilla tactics the end cannot be brought quickly enough. Moreover, the Viet Cong conviction seems stronger than the conviction of Americans. For the Viet Cong it is an immediate, life-and-death matter. But for the American GI -- well, it is a fire next door -- no, across the street, We say, "a fire across the field" -- far in the distance.

All wars are tragedy. You have read about it, heard about it, but now you are facing it for the first time in your life. You are now placed in the midst of the most tragic scene of human life. Sitting in a comfortable room, I have no right to advise you on this matter.

In a sense, physical death is not an ultimately serious concern. To God’s eyes, the physical death is no more tragic than the spiritual deaths of innumerable people.

It is true that by dying physically the Vietnamese loses the chance to hear the Divine Principle, but how remote he was from that possibility anyway! Millions will be born and die without hearing it. The great mass of Chinese are under the Communist ideology. India is under false teaching and many there are starving. Even in America, is there not much tragedy? If we are in communication with the heart of God, our sorrow will be unbearable.

David, since you understand God's new dispensation, your life is precious to God because God can restore many lives through you. He would like to preserve your life at all costs. You must cooperate with the Father in the preservation of your life, not only for your sake, but for God's sake,

Killing anyone in battle cannot be compared to murder under any other circumstances. It will not bring the same effect on your spirit. If I hate someone and kill him, it is my evil will and desire to kill that particular person. But if two nations are in battle, no one kills from personal malice, but from the will of the commander, whether it is a nation or an ideology.

If you are confronted by an enemy and preserve his life, if he then immediately turns to good, then it is good to save him. But, supposing you preserve his life and then he ungratefully kills numerous people on your side. What is gained? You must transcend your personal feeling and avoid thinking in terms of person-to-person, or you will suffer from constant inner conflict and even risk your own life by your indecisiveness.

You must pray -- and I will pray for you -- not to encounter a difficult situation. Commit your life completely to the hands of the Father and be close to Him. I only pray that you will avoid all danger under His protection. All of us in our Family here remember you in our prayers.

Our door-to-door witnessing every Sunday afternoon is quite encouraging. In December and January we received some forty new members throughout America.

Keep in touch with us, even with short letters and cards. We just want to know you're alive. I just hope that this war will quickly end. I send my prayer and love to you.


As the New Age Frontiers, was about to be printed, Washington Center received letters from David which we would like to share with all the Family:

Beloved Family,

Excuse this rushed and somewhat ragged note, but in the midst of the chaotic situation in which I find myself, I can do no more. Please, for all of you who have written me, accept this as an answer to all your letters. I will try to write you individually if I have time. I give thanks to our Father and praise Him for this opportunity to serve Him here in Vietnam. I am proud that He chose me for this mission but pray that His humility will be in me as I work for His kingdom here.

Let me first inform all of you of what I am doing -- just briefly. I've been assigned to an infantry unit which, as you might have guessed, is utilized completely for search-and-destroy missions. We are operating in the area of Duc Pho, which is about 150 miles south of Da Nang. I am presently being utilized as a rifleman. We comb rice paddies, mountains, and villages -and whatever else comes in our way as we search for "Charlie." The unit is relatively new in Vietnam, having arrived in December. This area is reasonably safe though we have encountered Viet Cong at least three times since my arrival.

Mainly we just spend a lot of time searching, which means walking, and walking, and more walking. Generally we go out for a week at a time carrying rations for three days, our bedding, water, and about 240 rounds of ammo each. On the average we carry about 40 pounds on our backs. It isn't bad but when you walk about 14 miles per day with this weight your feet really ache -- and, oh, your back! We've been out for eight days now and last night we climbed a mountain which was so high it took us two and a half hours, upstream. Other than that, our work is the same routine. We go into base camp maybe once a month, so you can see we haven't much time to write, except at times like now when a squad pulls perimeter security.

Now, as the Father's work goes here, I haven't had a great deal of time to do anything but pray. And so I've asked the Father to accept all this as indemnity. I don't know yet what my ultimate purpose must be here, but I am certain that my Father can use this to His advantage.

In the infantry, the morale and spirit of the men varies quite widely. I find that only the thinking people are still the ones who seek spiritual understanding. Too many of the men are very narrow-minded and cannot comprehend thoughts beyond themselves -- very selfish and ignorant. I say ignorant because they don't realize what life beyond self would be. There are men, however, who think somewhat in universal terms.

While in Chu Lai I spoke with two fellows who were really interested in Divine Principle. One even told me he believed that the original sin was the "sin of origin,” sex. Another fellow is facing court martial because he will not shoot the war is immoral, illegal, and unjust. Three fellows here already have asked me today what I believe and what our church teaches. I just gave them a short introduction since they were playing pinochle. The pinochle players are the thinkers. (I 'm learning to play the game!)

The NAF serves as a point of conversation. Everyone is curious what it is. I feel more and better opportunities for witness will come up. With your prayers and Father 's energy, I will be an adequate channel here for Him.

Your many letters have served to push me onward and the NAF has encouraged me more. And I am proud that I am a part of Unified Family and that so wonderful a family is mine. Only the love of the Father led me to you and it is such that will maintain me, I feel, as St. Paul expresses -- that trial and tribulation make me more steadfast and nothing will separate me from the love of the Father. Brothers and sisters, continue the fight, support your leaders and praise the Father for this great truth.

In an earlier letter, David wrote:

I flew out of Oakland 13 January and arrived RVN 15 January. I arrived first at Long Binh and then went to Chu Lai. While at Chu Lai, we came under mortar fire and rocket attack -- one ammo dump destroyed, six jets demolished. No personnel at our camp were killed, and only three injured. More damage was done to hooches and tents. I also received six~day RVN training while there. Unfortunately, I've been assigned as an infantryman to this unit. I've been out humping hills and rice paddies for about two weeks now. (February 16.) My platoon is nice. I'm not sure where to start witnessing. A great deal of the men seem too dense to even care about the world situation, which is ironical since they are here. The intelligent ones aren't necessarily the best choice either. I'll just have to "hunt and peck" for a while. I look forward to the day when all men will seek spiritual values and not materialistic.

Our hearts are with you, David! 

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