The Words of the Oak Family
"Grandma Oak" joined in 1946 when Father had alone walked the way of the Will, before the time there even was a Unification Church. She has been serving our Father ever since.
In Korea, we usually call her "Mother Mrs. Oak," but without any special mission title, she has done her mission as the historical mother of faith of our church.
When Father was in prison in North Korea, and was severely persecuted with harsh inhospitality, Grandmother Oak walked with Father on the thorny, rugged way with the purity of a woman of God.
Although she is 80 years old this year (1977) she looks young because of her white face and neat Korean dress; and the wrinkles on her face gained from overcoming adversity for the will of God speak of the value of heavenly history.
She was born in Pyongyang (now the capital of North Korea). When she was a member of one of the established Christian churches, she served God as a deacon, and her husband served God as an elder. They have two sons and four daughters.
From Mrs. Se Hyun Oak we hear the story of Father's suffering during those early times' of our church.
Question: What was your situation when you first met Father?
Answer: When my first son was 22 years old, studying in Japan, World War II broke out, so he was forced to go to the battlefield. I prayed very much for him. Around 1945 when Korea was liberated from Japan, many kinds of spiritual phenomena were occurring, and I also received a revelation, by which I could know where Father was. In the revelation, God ordered me to go to a mountain for prayer. But because of my housekeeping duties, I put off going from day to day. Owing to this I suffered from fever as heavenly punishment. On November 11, 1946 I was able to meet Father.
Question: How did you get along after meeting Father?
Answer: I was a deacon in an established Christian church, and my husband was an elder in the same church. Some deacons from the Christian churches gathered together centered around Father, and we held prayer meetings and Sunday services. Because we were moved so much by the gracious atmosphere of these meetings, we shed many, many tears of repentance and thanksgiving to God.
From this time, we were persecuted and accused by established churches and so were our physical families; sometimes we were detained at the police station.
We experienced spiritual phenomena like what happened in the upper room in Mark's house on the day of Pentecost, 2000 years before. My physical family was also persecuting us.
Question: I've heard that the police thought those meetings were like the Bokjungkyo Church (a sect of Christianity known as the "Inside Belly Church") and detained Father at the police station...
Answer: Yes. There was a Christian sect in Pyongyang called Bokjungkyo Church, whose leader was Mrs. Ho Ho Bin. They were keeping beautiful garments for the Lord of the Second Coming in a big room. Eventually this rumor reached the police, who detained the leader and confiscated the garments. Because the police thought of our meetings also as the same sect, they detained Father at the police station for three months. In the prison, Father sent a secret letter for the leader of Bokjungkyo Church in which he wrote, "Please deny temporarily your Bokjungkyo Church! Then you can be released."
But because this secret letter was found by a prison warden, Father was severely tortured with much blood shed and three teeth broken. At first, Father was at a Mr. Nah's home, but after being released from prison he moved to Mr. Jong Hwa Kim's house.
Question: Father's big heavenly mission then was to make a Providential foundation. But on every step of Father's mission he met strong obstacles, isn't that true?
Question: And what happened next?
Answer: Father guided us to have special conditions of fasting. After three days, we received a special revelation from God. God testified who Father was.
At that time Father was 27 years old. When I returned to my family's home after being away, fasting five days, my family began to really persecute me, because although I was the wife of a Christian church elder, and a deacon of the same church, I had come back home after five days without any explanation of why I was gone.
Question: How did the established churches see us?
Answer: They were very badly confused. In 1946 we had about 30 members; the greater part of us came from the established churches, so we had suffered much persecution. At that time we were persecuted very much by Mrs. In Joo Kim's physical family, because Mrs. In Joo Kim joined us. (Mrs. Kim is Won Pil Kim's aunt.)
One day I had a special dream in which I saw Father's crucifixion, so I rushed to the house in which Father stayed and found that he was sitting in utter exhaustion because of a severe beating he had received. At that time Father was staying with his aunt. I met him there many times.
Question: I think that soon afterwards Father met with more suffering. Why did it happen again?
Answer: Mrs. Seung Do Chi (one of our famous Grandma's) came to us and made preparations for a heavenly feast on March 1, 1948 (by lunar calendar). Because of this, the established church blamed us and the police also persecuted us. One day a woman came and said, "I'm a religious person and my mother is also a very religious person." Because of this then we had deep conversations. Afterwards, we discovered that she was a spy. The next day, because of my spiritual thirst, I visited the church and found that Father, Won Pil Kim and two other sisters had been taken to the police station by some police detectives.
Mr. Won Pil Kim was released after four days, and the two sisters also were released after two days. Because we didn't give the police the materials prepared for the feast, some sisters, including myself, were also put into the prison. Two days after my imprisonment, Father's hair was shaved off. Five days after his imprisonment began, the police announced the list of his crimes:
1. Being the spy of President Sung Man Lee of South Korea (Syngman Rhee).
2. Trying to exploit money from rich women.
3. Confusing society.
At that time anyone who was recognized as political spy should be shot without any excuse, so I was terrified. I was rolling on the floor because of fear. After these spiritual phenomena stopped, policemen came back and asked me, "Why did you do like that? When did you begin to follow him?" They interrogated me, asking me one by one. After nine days' imprisonment, I was released because of my nephew's negotiation with police.
Question: What was the result of the trial?
Answer: Because of my unfair treatment, I got a lawyer and protested. Because of the newspaper coverage of this trial, many established Christian church members came together and mocked us, shouting, "What kind of a crown does he put on his head? He must be executed."
At last, the judge sentenced five years imprisonment to Father. I met Father in the courtyard and gave some food to him. Though I appealed to the highest court, his term of imprisonment was not reduced. After that, Father was moved from the police station to the prison in Hungnam. At this time most of the 30 members left the church. So many times I visited the prison alone to meet Father.
Question: Please tell me the story of Hungnam prison.
Answer: Three days before Father was put into the prison, one of the prisoners, young Mr. Won Duk Kim had a special dream, in which God told Mr. Kim to serve and attend Father. So he followed, served and attended Father.
Question: Did you visit many times when Father was in Hungnam prison?
Answer: At first I had no news about Father, so I waited anxiously to hear from him. One day I received a letter from Hungnam in which I read that Father desired that I should visit him. After one night on the train (it is 400 kilometers from Pyongyang to Hungnam) I arrived at Hungnam. I was a typical Korean housewife (by the Korean tradition at that time, a housewife didn't travel so far away), so it was very difficult for me to reach the unfamiliar Hungnam prison. But because I knew Father's suffering at the prison, I could overcome any difficulty on the way. After taking a room at an inn, I visited the prison.
I saw that every 40 prisoners were chained together in a line as they walked, and they all had blue prison clothes on. When I recognized Father, I was dumbfounded. I had to wait at the visitor's reception room until Father returned from his heavy daily labor. In one part of me, I was very glad to meet with him; while in another part of me I felt heartrending anguish at seeing him like this.
Question: What kind of conversation did you have with him?
Answer: He asked, "How are other members?" With a desire to comfort him, I replied, "All are very well."
I gave him Misigaru (flour of roasted rice which we can eat with water, it is kind of an emergency food). Even on the train on my journey home to Pyongyang, I was sobbing as I thought of Father's loneliness and suffering in the prison in the valley in the mountains.
Question: And after that?
Answer: After a while I again visited Hungnam prison, but he was nowhere to be found. With a feeling of uneasiness, I asked a warden where Father was. He said Father was at Bongung, located 8 kilometers away from Hungnam Prison. I arrived at Bongung, took a room at the inn near the prison, and began searching the prison for Father. Suddenly I heard the noise of a rail-car at my right side. I looked to the side, and there was Father pulling a rail-car. I could speak with him, and gave him some special foods I had prepared, by passing it to another prisoner.
Next morning I saw that Father was cleaning up the prison yard. I came closer and asked him, "Did you get the food?" he said, "Yes!" After that, he went to the back yard of the prison and was cleaning it. I told a warden that, "I have come from Pyongyang to be with my nephew. Could he please give time for me to converse with him!" He gave permission, so we could meet and converse with each other for a good while.
Father said, "After one month, I'll go back to Hungnam." After our parting from each other, I waited there for a long while to meet him again. But I could not find him again, so I came back to Pyongyang with such despondent feelings.
Question: Could you tell us more of Father's suffering at Hungnam Prison?
Answer: One day I visited the prison with Mr. Won Pil Kim. We found Father carrying a straw bag of fertilizer, putting a black towel and a worn-out cap on his head, looking back to us and going into the prison. Could you imagine how heartbroken we felt at that time? Whenever we visited the prison, we prepared new clothes, but whenever we met him, we always found him wearing the old worn-out clothes. After a while, we knew the reason. Father was giving the new ones to prisoners who would soon be released.
Question: I've heard that when the South Korean Army advanced on the North during the Korean war, then the gate of the prison was opened. Can you tell me about this in more detail?
Answer: There were times when we couldn't visit the prison. We could only pray in such anxiety, hoping to hear even a word from Father, to know that he was still okay, because of the Korean War. God gave us a revelation in which He said, "Don't worry! He is well now."
On October 14, 1950, because of the United Nations' soldiers advancing on Hungnam, Father could be released. Though there was severe bombing, prisoners had to continue working very hard. This means they wanted to kill all the prisoners. Fortunately, there was no bombing where Father stayed. But because they were killing prisoners by shooting some every day, all prisoners' nerves were on end.
Father was wearing the socks I had made for him, when he arrived on foot in Pyongyang after walking for ten days. For one month after that, he remained at my home.
Question: Father's life in Northern Korea was completely a continuous suffering, wasn't it? I've heard that after all that, Father came down to South Korea. Could you tell briefly about his life in Southern Korea during those times?
Answer: I came down to Southern Korea with my physical family, and Father came down to Southern Korea with Mr. Jong Hwa Pak, who was the head of prisoners at Hungnam Prison. Mr. Pak had broken his leg because of a beating and severe torture at the hands of a South Korean soldier. He was mistaken for a Communist spy.
Father took him on a bicycle with Mr. Won Pil Kim. It was a dramatic adventure. Mr. Pak remained at Kyongju (it is now one of the nice sightseeing places in the Southeast part of Southern Korea), and Father and Mr. Won Pil Kim continued on to Pusan. Father found my dwelling through Reverend Sang Do Han, who was ministering at Choryang Church, and Father sent Mr. Won Pil Kim to find me.
First of all I asked Mr. Kim, "What kind of clothes does Father have on?" I found Father still had on the old ones which he used to wear in North Korea. So I bought some stuff to make Father and Mr. Kim new clothes and gave money to Mr. Kim for renting a house. A few days later, I prepared the clothes and visited Father's house with these.
In Pusan in 1951, Father stayed on the mountain during the day and worked at the pier at night. Mr. Won Pil Kim worked first at a restaurant, but later he began to work at a U.S. Army unit. Father build a mud house by himself for his stay during the cold winter and cooked his meals by himself even in very cold weather. (Korean winter, especially on the harbor, is very, very cold.) During these times, many central members, including Mr. Hyo Won Eu (who was first president of Unification Church in Korea, and now is in spiritual world) joined.
On May 1, 1954 Father nailed the signboard HOLY SPIRIT ASSOCIATION FOR UNIFICATION OF WORLD CHRISTIANITY on the church in Seoul. Here many professors and students of Ehwa Women's University began to join. Because of many members but narrow space, we moved to another big house located at Hungin-Dong. And we moved again to Jang Chung Dong April 27, 1955. Here five professors and 14 students of Ehwa Women's University were kicked out from the university.
Three months later, on July 4, eventually Father and some leaders were imprisoned at the Sudaemun prison. Our daily work was to visit the prison. It was said that since the prison opened, they counted the greatest number of visitors ever, for this one prisoner.
On October 4, 1955 (the same year) Father was released first; and soon other leaders were also released except Mr. Won Pil Kim who was released on Christmas Eve of the year. Soon after Father was released, we moved again to Chungpa-Dong property (which we still keep) and in which the Holy Wedding, Blessing Ceremony, and many other important activities have been held.
Question: Thank you very much for your explanations about the things you saw, heard and felt, of Father's life from the very beginning time. I think you must feel thousands of deep emotions when you observe our Father who has made the Unification Church into a worldwide movement. Please give us a word of advice for our members, based on your feelings about attending Father.
Answer: It is said that our Unification Church has met a difficult situation. We are in many kinds of difficulties, internally and externally both. Father's life is the life of endurance. Through surviving many kinds of opposition and mocking, he could be crowned. Today's difficulties will become the strong foundation for our victory of the future. We should comfort Father and do our best for our Heavenly mission. Thank you!
This interview was translated from "Tongil Segye."