The Words of the Aum Family
From the 1943 graduation album of the Waseda Technical High School, Tokyo. Father is at back in the middle. The school had five departments; Mr. Aum was in Construction, while Father was in Electrical Engineering.
Duk-moon Aum was born in Seoul on March 10, 1919. He met Father at the Waseda Technical High School in Tokyo in 1941. The two met again in refugee-flooded Busan during the Korean War early in 1951, days after Father had arrived there at the end of his long trek from the North. Father stayed at Mr. Aum's home for a time and taught him the Principle. Mr. Aum had by then already founded an architectural company, which later became very successful. In a recent interview Mr. Aum, now ninety-one years of age, reminisces about the early days.
How did you come to see Rev. Moon differently?
He would talk for a long time at night, about such things as life in Hungnam Prison. He was a leader even when he was in that frightening place. As a leader, he enlightened others and he prepared himself to fight it out.
And he talked about those things?
Mostly about those things, and also about the people who were involved in such things, and those who had died. There were many such stories, quite numerous in fact.
You mentioned how he had spoken through the night.
He did talk all night long, and his interpretations were different. They were quite extraordinary. In other words, what he said about the banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden was different from what is written in the Bible. The motive and the origin, the origin and the purpose were all different.
So you came to see Rev. Moon in a new light when you heard him speak?
Yes. I would be lying if I said that I wasn't impressed by what he said.
As you heard those stories, did Rev. Moon feel different to you from the Rev. Moon of old?
He was different. Before, I had thought of him only as a patriotic comrade, but now he was a patriotic comrade who was also like the Messiah, with religious faith. He was the Messiah.
He's younger than you are, isn't he? You were in the same year at school, but you're a year older.
We were in the same year.
How can a friend become a teacher?
It's a matter of respect. I came to respect him because he was a great man. To say it simply, he is a great man. And in regard to religion he is an unusual person. He is the Messiah. He is indeed like the Messiah, and not an ordinary person.
You didn't feel this when you were both studying in Japan?
When we were studying together, he didn't say one word about such things. At that time, I didn't have that respect for him, because he never said a word about religious belief or the church. So it came as quite a shock to me when, after not saying even a word about it, he had become completely different.
After graduating from college, I was working in a large corporation. We were still under Japanese rule. The name of the company was Kashima. I was an employee in the construction department, and he came to work under the electrical department. That's how we met again. At the time I was in Gang-seon in South Pyongan Province, which is situated between Pyongyang and Jinnampo. I went to Gangseon and he stayed in Seoul.
I suppose you must have been glad to see him!
Yes I was.
During that time, wasn't Rev. Moon was taken by the Japanese police and tortured?
He was taken at the time and released after Korea's liberation.
Did he tell you about it later?
I heard that he suffered severely. At that time, it was very easy for anyone to be taken like that. It happened all the time; many of those who worked to put things to right were taken.
You told us some interesting stories about how you came to meet and get to know him again.
I saw him in a new light. Because I respected him as the Messiah, I treated him as a superior. To put it simply, I served him as a superior and not just a friend.
I served his food first, and had him sit in the best seat, and washed his clothes for him. Those kinds of things.
From your viewpoint, what made Rev. Moon different?
It was in the Divine Principle of his faith. The Principle he discovered had not been made public at the time, and it was truly impressive.
What did you say to Rev. Moon after you heard it?
I told him I had thought he was my friend, but now I knew that I should treat him, not as a friend, but rather as the Messiah and my teacher.
Was it later that you went to Beomnetgol?
Before we went to Beomnetgol, we were turned out of our home on a rainy day, along with my children, with only our bedding. We didn't have any place to go because it was so sudden. So we went to the home of a distant relative by marriage in Jagalchi Village. We went to the village and pushed our way into their home, without asking for consent from them. And then we stayed up all night and talked, and the owner of the house was abusive, saying I didn't look after my wife but stayed up all night with my friend. So I had the children and my wife sleep in the inner house and Rev. Moon and I slept in the outer rooms because I thought that would be all right. But the owner found fault with that.
What did you talk about all night?
About the Divine Principle. It is inexhaustible and very long. You can't express it in just a word or two.
What made you return to Beomnetgol?
We had been kicked out. They told us to leave because they couldn't have us any longer. So I sent my wife and two children to Masan, and Rev. Moon and I, accompanied by one more person, Won-pil Kim, the three of us went to Beomnetgol, to laborers' accommodations. We got a place and slept there.
At that time, the will of God came down to Rev. Moon from Heaven, in a way. He began to write down the Divine Principle. Until then, he had only talked about it, but from then on, he began to write it down. He began writing on old school test papers with a pencil, and he was so fast because he had a scratchy handwriting. He wrote so fast that Won-pil Kim sat by him and sharpened pencils for him. As soon as he was given a new pencil, he continued to write. There was no time to sharpen pencils. In that way he wrote day and night for several days.
In the back room other laborers came in at night and sang, drunk with alcohol. Only a window separated us from them, so although there were two rooms, it was almost as if we were in the same room. So we could not stay there any longer and went farther up into Beomnetgol and found a site.
We found a place and built a mud hut there; and that was the Beomnetgol mud hut. We built it together. At the time, war refugees had taken up most of the sites there, so almost no unoccupied land could be found.
We dug up the ground a little, but water flowed out over the rocks. We couldn't dig there any more, so we left it as it was. We arranged some stones to make a sort of channel for the water to run off. We spread out four or five straw mats over that and built the room over the top.
It wasn't even a proper mud hut, so when we stood up the top of our heads grazed the ceiling. We were able to sit down at the center, but at the sides the room was barely three feet in height. The room slanted in a way that you were able to stand up only at the center, because on the sides your heads touched the ceiling.
At night we spread out futons on the floor. I had new futons and bedding that had been made for me by my wife's family at the time we married. My futon was thick and long because I was tall. It wide as well as long, and once it was spread out over that straw matting, it made a very warm, wonderful bed. It was winter then, and when the futon was spread out in full, three people could sleep together on it.
The way we managed it was like this: Rev. Moon and I would lie with our heads to one side, with our shoulders almost touching. Kim Won-pil would lie in the opposite direction, with his head and shoulders between our legs and with his feet between our shoulders.
We found an old box and acquired a few pots, buying some and finding others, and cooked our food there.
What did Rev. Moon have to do that inspired you take up such a lifestyle with him?
It was the Principle, the Divine Principle of the Unification Church.
Yes it is a religious way of life. Didn't I say before that he was the Messiah? There is no other way to describe him. How can I possibly express everything in so short a time, all of a sudden? And once you become immersed in the Unification Church....
Please describe Rev. Moon's character and behavior to help us picture him when he attending Waseda University High School.
He never went out playing about with his friends. He only went to church and was single-minded. But once or twice we climbed Mt. Busa together. We went around together after that. Of course, I liked to drink very much, but not once did we go out to drink together. He had nothing to do with alcohol.
Were you close friends?
We trusted each other. I too was paying my way through school. At the time Japan was an advanced nation and had a good social system, so when we dug up the ground from 9 AM to 5 PM they paid us 50,000 won. And if that was not enough, you could go on working till 10 PM. They would pay you for it in the morning, and although you worked fewer hours you still got 50,000 won. But if someone came and said he only wanted to work from 5 to 10, he was not hired. Only those who came in the morning and worked all day had the right to work the evening shift. That was their social system.
You've observed him from the time in Bumin-dong, Busan, onward, haven't you?
At the time, you may have seen him as a man with religious faith, but you must also have seen what he was like as a young man in his twenties.
He was a very diligent man, hardworking and true. He was hardworking, true and exemplary. He set a model example.
How long did you stay together in the Beomnetgol mud hut?
We lived through one winter in the Beomnetgol mud hut. I met him at the "forty steps" in early January. He stayed in our home for about two months. We stayed about a month and a half in Jagalchi Village, and then we went to the laborers' house in front of Choryang Station in Choryang-dong and stayed there for a month or less. After that, we went into that hilly spot, Beomnetgol.
We built the hut there and stayed from late autumn to early summer or early spring. If you add it all up, we stayed together for about a year.
After that, you went back to your family because of your job. Is that right?
Yes. I couldn't stay apart from my family any longer, so I had them come out to Busan. At the time, I was in Busanjin, no, it wasn't Busanjin... There is a hot spring in Busan called Dong-nae Spa. I built a small shack there and lived in it with my family.
Is that how you came to part from Rev. Moon?
Yes, that's why we parted company.
In the years since then, you've probably heard of the many projects Rev. Moon has been involved in. What character trait do you think allowed him to make an impression in such a variety of fields?
He has no selfish desires or mercenary thoughts. He doesn't keep any money aside for himself.
Do you mean slush money?
He never keeps money aside for such purposes or for his personal comfort. He doesn't think about living in clover. He's thrifty and has a clear philosophy. That philosophy, as I said before, is the messianic philosophy, if you will. He sets a good example for others.
When he went to the United States, he held a great rally in Washington, bringing together three hundred thousand people. His leadership was quite remarkable. Some aspects of his character are extraordinary. He was fundamentally different from other people. I knew from the first that he was such a man; everyone became aware of it from various things, starting with the Divine Principle.
You couldn't criticize him in any way even if you tried. He is the most virtuous of men.
He lived frugally in Beomnetgol?
He transcended such matters as how he dressed, ate and lived, and he didn't sleep very much. So at night, when Beomnetgol seemed stuffy, we'd climb the hill behind the village to a big rock. When you looked down from that big, flat rock, which was like sitting in a pavilion. You could see the ports that was full of American ships, which were all brightly lit. We'd look down at them, and he'd ask me to sing. When I was young, I liked to sing, but I didn't know popular songs. I liked classical music and arias. He never seemed to stop once he started asking me to sing. He'd ask me to sing again and again and when I'd finished he'd ask if I knew any other songs. Once it got started, it lasted at least two hours.
He wouldn't sleep much at night. We'd be tired out and sleeping, and when we woke up, he'd already have cooked breakfast for us. We didn't have a kitchen at that time so the outdoors served as our kitchen, He would wake us up and tell us to have breakfast. He was very frugal and would not be concerned for himself at all. What can I say? You can't even find a mother in the whole world who is like that. You can't imagine. And there was nothing he wouldn't eat, even sour kimchi.
In his autobiography, we read that from that time in Beomnetgol, when Exposition of the Divine Principle was written and they began propagating it, you were often denounced by other Christian churches. What did you, as a friend and follower, feel about Rev. Moon being called the founder of the "heretical Unification Church"?
Because of that, we were much criticized and abused by other religions. They had come to regard us as heretics in the first place because religion had gone wrong from the start. So in order to set things straight, we needed to go through a certain course.
To go through that process, we needed to be considered heretics; otherwise, we couldn't fulfill the course. Therefore, to straighten out something that has gone wrong and carry out the process that will straighten everything out, we needed to hold formal events that others would view as heretical. In short, we needed to carry out formal events to restore everything to its proper place, but those were heretical from the viewpoint of others, seemingly very strange, and couldn't be interpreted sensibly.
But deep down, they needed to be carried out.
That's why, sometimes, even I was half in doubt and could not fully believe in them, because the process was so complicated. But as you go deeper and deeper, you come to see that they needed to be carried out, because otherwise nothing can be corrected and nothing fits together.
Are you saying that if there is a reaction to something, it needs to be restored to its proper position?
If something has fallen out of place, you need to put it back. This work of restoring everything to its proper place has caused us to be accused of being heretical by others.
What do you think the value of Rev. Moon is as a friend in this day and age? What is his value in Korea, or in modern society?
His merit lies in his single-hearted devotion; he hasn't changed at all for decades. Being persecuted and abused and taken to the police station is not a problem for him; when it comes to the providence, he has never changed. He has kept to the one path without changing, just going his way, even if he has had to face death and many hardships.
He has given up wealth and prosperity to follow that path. That's what's so great about him. That's why I could not accuse him of being a heretic.
What do you talk about when you meet Rev. Moon nowadays?
He misses the good old days. He remembers that when he was persecuted by others, I still recognized him and understood him and that even in the difficult times when we lived in Bumin-dong and we were persecuted, abused, and in the end, thrown out by a fearsome old woman who was the owner, I still stood by his side and worked with him. I also did many other things for him.
On Sundays, because we didn't have a church then, Mr. Kim came to our home in Bumin-dong. He had come south with Rev. Moon after his time in Hungnam Prison. He didn't have anyone to turn to for help, so he used to work in a large eating-house wearing black rubber shoes on his bare feet, washing dishes in exchange for food.
In the past, he had been a grade school teacher, but he had followed Rev. Moon and endured many hardships, even imprisonment, and had come to Busan with him. There, he did the lowest work in the large eating-house, a job shunned by others, and because he was washing dishes barefoot in the cold winter, his feet became swollen quite badly.
When you wear rubber shoes, your feet get very dirty. Because you walk shuffling your feet, your feet become black with dirt. He would wash his feet cursorily and walk to my home, because he had no money to get a ride, and his feet would be very dirty. My home was on the second floor, and he would leave footprints on the stairs as he came up. Then the old woman, the owner, would shout at us. She was the mother of a pro-Japanese policeman, and she shouted abuse at us, saying the Korean people were helpless. This would startle my wife, so before she heard those words, she would go down very quietly with a cleaning rag and wipe his footprints off the stairs.
I then got a job as the overall designer and director for a police hospital that was being built. At that time, designers were scarce. After I began following Rev. Moon, however, to use the Unification Church expression, demons and devils interfered with me, and seemingly for no reason I lost my job.
I was unemployed at a time when we were refugees and needed all the money we could make. There were five of us and I was jobless. My wife would go out to sell the things she'd brought with her when we got married, as well as new clothes that she hadn't worn even once. With that money, she bought rice. She kept it a secret, but Rev. Moon, being quick witted, knew what she was doing. He knew that instead of nagging and whining, she supported him and me in that way. Rev. Moon was deeply moved and very thankful to my wife for doing so much for him, and he has more than expressed his thanks for her.
Do you talk about these kinds of things when you meet?
Because no one else knows about them, he likes to listen to these stories when I'm there. He brings them up himself, and since it is he who brings them up, and there are other members around, I can't avoid talking about them. How we felt at the time is something no one apart from us knows about. He doesn't talk about such things when he's alone, because there is no one to talk about them with. These things come up only when we are talking together.
We have talked about all kinds of topics. If I were to go into them all, it would indeed make quite an interesting story.