The Words of the Moon Family

Building Inter-Korean Sisterhood

Moon Lan-young
October 2007
President of WFWP International

In light of the WFWP Women Leaders Convention being held in North Korea, Mrs. Moon kindly shared with about her work to develop relationships with North Korean woman leaders.

As a recognized woman leader in Korea, Moon Lan-young was recently appointed joint chair of the National Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation between South and North Korea (KCRC), an organization that exists on both sides of the border, and which, in the south, comprises more than two hundred NGOs. She is also a representative of the 6.15 North-South Joint Declaration Action Committee (South Korean branch), which stemmed from the North-South Korean summit in 2000. In addition, Mrs. Moon is an associate professor of theology at Sun Moon University.

First Lady Kwon Yang-sook invited woman leaders to the Blue House before she and President Roh Moo-hyun visited North Korea. Our WFWP secretary-general was invited; I was in the United States at that time. She invited woman leaders so that she could listen to their opinions.

After the president and first lady returned from the North, she again invited woman leaders, so she could give her impressions.

I was one of the leaders invited. That time I went. She explained her personal feelings to us about their visit to North Korea.

I sat beside her and explained about the Pyonghwa Motors Company, which the president and she had visited, and the Potonggang Hotel, where fifty presidential aides had stayed.

She told us that the relationship, the atmosphere, between North Korea and South Korea is much better than before. Even so, she felt communication was still very difficult, and she expressed how sad she was about that. In light of this, she said she felt it must have been very difficult for Rev. Moon at the very beginning. She understood that. That's what she said. So it was a good meeting.

Three of us from WFWP went to Kaesong [Capital during the Koryo Dynasty, currently site in North Korea of a joint North-South industrial complex.] in early October and met North Korean woman representatives to discuss the WFWP workshop and convention. We met to discuss the plans in advance. They asked us to send our full program, which we did. (When I last went to Pyongyang, we held a meeting at the Potonggang Hotel. After meeting delegations on a number of occasions, things fall into place.)

This time, three of us went, including the brother who drove us. They sent three people to Kaesong from Pyongyang. We took my car! At the border, they covered the South Korean number plate and attached a special red visitors' flag to our vehicle. Kaesong is two hours' drive from Pyongyang, but very near the border. So they suggested that we hold our meeting with their delegation at Kaesong. It is much closer to Seoul than Mt. Kumgang is. It took us just over an hour to drive there from the Women's Federation office in Seoul.

So far, including visiting Mt. Kumgang this time, I've been to North Korea eleven times. I've been there for discussion meetings. We also met North Korean representatives in South Korea, and have built a good relationship.

Since I went to North Korea in 2001, it had been my dream to have this kind of event. Last year I asked Father, "How about North Korea?" Father said it was too early. Then in May this year, I went to Mt. Kumgang to discuss the One Percent Love-sharing. [WFWP encourages people to donate 1% of their unused money to aid the North. The money buys goods that are donated to North Korea.] When I reported to Father about that visit, he said "Why don't you have your workshop in Mt. Kumgang?" I was so inspired. That was going to be a big job! How many people should we invite? Father said five hundred! At the time, it seemed too difficult. The relationship between North Korea and South Korea was rather tense...

The North Koreans always speak about the Korean people doing things, meaning they don't want foreigners involved.

They say, "We have to drive away foreigners and reunify under our own power." They always emphasize this. I always have to explain to them that there are many wonderful foreign people who want to support reunification, like us, because they are working with President Sun Myung Moon. There are many Japanese members in Pyongyang to support our projects, such as the Potonggang Hotel and Pyonghwa Motors, I explained. I told them I wanted to bring such good people to Mt. Kumgang.

The North Korean side was curious. So they worked at it, and although they had some worries, they could trust us because of True Parents and because of WFWP. So we were able to go ahead. So far, only a few dozen foreign people have ever visited Mt. Kumgang, and those were just tourists. I emphasized to the North Koreans that people from other countries should come. People travel to see all the world's famous places, like the Eiffel Tower, don't they? I said, "People from all over the world like Mt. Kumgang." The Hyundai Asan [The branch of Hyundai that built Mt. Kumgang Resort] representative would ask, "Are you sure you can bring that many? Five hundred must be difficult..." Usually in October we hold our WFWP International workshop, and in November our WFWP Korea workshop. So I thought, "Let's do them together this year!" So I knew we would easily be able to gather five hundred between them. In fact, seven hundred came! It was amazing.

One problem was that we thought Mt. Kumgang didn't have enough hotel space to accommodate us. When I was at the Blue House, I met Hyun Jeong-eun, the chairwoman of Hyundai Asan, and asked her to please take good care of our guests from overseas. I also asked the Hyundai Asan president, Yoon Man-joon, as I know him. They said they would take good care of them, and it was arranged.

We are not just sightseeing; we were going to have a convention. We had to get permission from the North Korean government. We needed permission from our own government too! We had to negotiate the details until we received permission. The North Koreans always ask for all the names, and copies of all the passports! We were basically just sightseeing, so we didn't want to send so much information, but they always asked more and more!

When we applied to the government here in the South, after they studied our materials they realized we weren't just going to hold a simple rally. The South Korean Ministry of Unification was happy with our initiative. They suggested we have this kind of convention again not only in Mt. Kumgang, but in Pyongyang. I told Father that, but he said he would like to give the North Korean women the chance to go to a convention somewhere else.

We had a beautiful convention. They had a positive impression of us. Pak Sang-gwon [President of Pyonghwa Motors] always worries about this kind of event. This time he told us many times that what we did was beautiful. He was happy.

We had said we were going to hold a "woman leaders convention." In the North, they didn't want us to use the word "leader" in the Korean version of the signs, a word they use only for their nation's leader Kim Jong-il. They wanted us to use the word "worker" or "laborer," but I couldn't do that! I told them our delegates are not laborers or workers. "Forgive us," they said, "That's our own culture." They are very sensitive. They also don't want religious words, such as "God."

They don't want religious ceremonies. We didn't use those words, except for the word "leadership" in the Convention banner. But I mentioned to them about globalization, that they must open their hearts to people from other countries. They need to do that.

For the opening and closing, and for the whole workshop, we used English, because we had simultaneous translation into Korean and Japanese. However, in Mt. Kumgang, for the sake of the North Korean delegation, everything was done in Korean, even the MC spoke in Korean. The exception was Hoon-sook nim. Because Hoon-sook nim referred to "God" in her speech, and some other things, in the Korean version we changed the word "God" to Changjo-ju (Creator). I asked them to please understand us. I asked them, because I want to give some kind of spiritual benefit to them. "Globalization! We have to open our hearts. There are many good foreigners." There are many young students in the North who speak beautiful English. I asked them, "You hate America, so why do you speak English?" And they said "That's different!"

They don't like certain words referring to North Korea and South Korea, and the Korean language, and if we use those words, they say so at once; "President Moon, please correct that!"

Also, they did not allow anything that had not been discussed in advance. But they know I was born in North Korea, so they say, "You are different."

We have held meetings with North Korean delegations many times, but sometimes it didn't work. They would stop the meeting. They might accuse us over some perceived error, and if the South Koreans could not accept it, the meeting would be postponed. As for me, Father is teaching us to love, to embrace; we still feel we have True Parents' love in our hearts. Even though they might be upset, I try to say, "Sorry. We will try to do it better next time. Please understand our side. You know my heart!" Something like this-you know. And they'd say "Hmm..."

Gradually, step by step, I try to explain things to them. We have overcome many sensitive incidents in this way.

Also they have said, "If you would like to have our continued cooperation, please stop your support of North Korean escapees." You know we have an annual project. They have asked us not to support North Korean refugees with scholarships. But I say to them, "That is different; we have a scholarship steering committee. I have to discuss it with them. In South Korea, I cannot decide by myself. We have to discuss it." I tried to make them understand.

In the beginning, in 2001 when I visited the first time, I was sad, and I was afraid to talk and discuss anything with them. I had to be very careful in what I said. Seven years have passed.

We have met together on several occasions. Gradually I have tried to understand their situation. They are, also, I think, changing little by little. I think we can overcome the obstacles. Now I sometimes miss them. They've told me that they also miss us. When I visited Kaesong, they cried out excitedly when they saw me coming. Other South Koreans working there were surprised. They asked me, "Who are you? They are so glad to see you! Who are you? “I told the North Korean ladies delegation, "We're so pleased to see you!"

They said, "We are so happy to see you. You don't look happy like us. Are you unhappy?"

"Oh we are so happy," I laughed, "but in front of others..." There are many small side stories. I cannot tell them all.

Every time I visit North Korea, passing through Immigration Control they ask, "What's your position? What is your title?" As soon as I say "World Peace..." almost everyone knows.”Ah, you are from the Unification faith.

How is President Sun Myung Moon? How is his wife? His wife is so beautiful... This time he's not coming with you?" Something like that. I am so happy.

Even in South Korea, the situation is changing slowly. In the beginning when I started with the Women's Federation for World Peace, I was so sad because people would say, "WFWP? Is that an NGO? They are not an NGO, they are missionaries of that Unification Church!" Nowadays, however, people have a lot of respect.

This time there were so many women from different countries. The hotel manager in the North said, "This group is special, this group is amazing. They don't complain; they always smile." 

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