Unification News for March 2000
True Parents' Birthday and Blessing 2000 in Seoul, Korea
by Michael Inglis—NYC
I spent a week in Korea attending Blessing 2000. Almost each day I posted a travelogue on the internet. This is a collection of the posts.
Today (February 8), about 120 of us left New York on KAL for Seoul. I thought I was putting my life at risk with the most dangerous airline in the world (more crashes per passenger mile flown than any other) but when I heard an English voice announce he was the captain, I felt a little better.
We arrived in Seoul early evening, it was pretty cold. We found the right bus to our hotel, the Holiday Inn. A nicely appointed place.
Next morning I went for a long hike downtown. Seoul is hilly, very busy, even early in the morning, and rather dirty. There is a lot of construction going on all over, they seem to have come out of the economic downturn.
Father had a service this morning at Chungpyung, I wasn't able to go. I heard it was very similar to pledge events in the past.
After breakfast this morning we took the subway # 5 to the Olympic Park Gymnasium #1. Long lines snaked over to the building and it was packed when we finally got in. Probably about 15-20,000 people. In front of the raised stage were plaques of appreciation from 185 countries. It was also very nice to see so many young people in the crowd, which was predominantly Korean.
The program began with a rather long prayer about Father defeating Satan. Flowers were then presented by our own Tyler and Hye Young Hendricks and then Father and Mother cut a huge cake, while everyone sang happy birthday, first in Korean and then in English.
There was then an intro to the foreign big wigs —Dan Quayle, Ted Heath, Kenneth Kaunda, former presidents of Boliva and Guatamala among others, and a leading Korean Buddhist.
Rev. Kwak then spoke monotonously and at length. Most everyone around me dozed off. There was then a loud and powerful video presentation, followed by the presentation of gifts, including one from Kim Jong Il that was presented with great flourish by Pak Bo Hi. Always the actor.
Dan Quayle then gave a great three-minute speech calling for the 21st century to be the century of peace reconciliation and true love. He spoke for the need for true families of love and commended Father for his work to bring this about. He then congratulated Father on his 80 years and wished him 80 more birthdays. Everyone exploded with applause. Father leapt out of his seat and bear hugged young Dan. The Buddhist spoke glowingly of Father's efforts for harmony and reconciliation between religions. A message from Kim Jong Il was then read.
We then had two songs from a very good choir and a few remarks from Ted Heath congratulating the Dr. and Mrs. Moon on having birthdays on the same day.
Father then gave one of the best public speeches I have heard in a long time. He talked about unifying mind and body, loving your enemy in the tradition of Jesus, becoming a patriot for the unification of Korea and calling all Koreans to work for reunification.
That was followed by Manseis and Firecrackers; very exciting.
This morning I had the blessing of going to Kimpo Airport at 5.00 am to welcome planeloads of American members and ministers to Seoul.
What a great sight. About 700 people came from Chicago, Newark, Boston, New York, Washington DC, Miami, Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Columbus, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. And we only lost two people! (We connected up later.)
Tonight I go back to welcome another 600 or so. Together with the 500 who cam two days ago we will have about 1800 people here from N America.
All who came this morning were given a tour of Seoul and then lunch before going to their hotels.
The subway system in Seoul is great. It has recently been expanded to about twelve lines from just five. The new stations are clean, same for the subway cars. The signs are all in English as well as Hanguk. As you come to each stop a LCD sign flashes the name in Hanguk as a voice tells it to you, it then flashes in English—good for learning Korean. The trains are always on time and are quick. It now only takes about 20 minutes to Kimpo / the bus took 40.
The advertising in the subway says a lot. The key words are often in large bold English, while the lesser stuff is in Hanguk.
Brown hair is now the in-thing for the young Korean generation, especially the girls. I expect next time I come it will be all different colors like in Tokyo. I was also amazed to see extra long shoes, these are about 13 inches long, a little difficult to walk in!
We had a lovely hot bean paste filled fish shaped doughy pastry yesterday morning. The coffee from the vending machines is excellent and only 30 cents.
Mike Leone and I had lunch yesterday in a nice little restaurant. Kalbi, bap and all the fixings for less than $5 each—not bad.
A bus trip to Chungpyung
Julian Gray kindly wrote out the directions for us, and three of us Mike Leone, Yuji and myself set off in a taxi for the Sambong bus station. The cab drove through central Seoul and deposited us safely at the terminal. The terminal was surrounded by these young army men and young schoolgirls jumping up and down to loud music. What was going on? Well, they were playing a video game called stomp, pretty unusual but it looked like fun.
We got our tickets to Sorak Myun and being hungry dived into the Lotteria, a fast food joint. two bulgogi burgers and a shrimp burger, french fries and soda—very tasty.
The bus took about one-and-a-half hours, I noticed that all the buildings were covered in advertising and I mean every one. Covered. Also the bus drivers are pretty wild, red lights didn't seem to matter. After leaving Chungpyung City the bus starts to get more into the mountains, which are pretty steep and quite pretty. Chungpyung Lake is actually manmade by a dam on the Pukwan river. 10 minutes later we arrived at Sorak Myun.
No taxis were available when we arrived so we decided to take refreshments in a little smoky coffee house up the street. To get there we passed some Japanese and some Africans leaving. We wondered what the locals thought of all the comings and goings.
The coffee was good though the surroundings a bit odd—black leather booths, yellow wallpaper, a propane heater in the middle of the floor with a kettle on top, a wall clock with a bird and a fish tank with no fish, and you couldn't see out of any of the frosted or painted windows.
Then we got the taxi and made it up to Chungpyung. Mike had told me the palace was immense, but I didn't think it was too big or out of proportion. Actually I rather liked it, the tree of heart in front being very beautiful.
I wanted to get up the hill as quickly as possible, so I ran up. On the way up when I needed a break I seemed to bump into someone I knew coming down, so we stopped and chatted. The water of life was nice, it reminded me of Lourdes, in fact the whole place did. One disappointment was seeing the water piped in, I had hoped for a natural spring.
I felt God was telling me to get to the top, so I kept going and only briefly paused at the last tree to keep going on to the top of the mountain. And I'm glad I did. Around the top are these beautiful won jun's, apparently not ours, though I did think this would be a suitable spot. The chi was very good. As I arrived at the very top the sun broke through the clouds and I felt very close to God. As the sun went in I looked up into the sky and saw two mountains in the spirit world with a path leading to Heaven. I felt I could step right into the spirit world.
On the way down I stopped for a longer period at one of the won jun's and very strongly felt the spirit of Young Jin. Again the sun shone through the clouds, very brightly yet very briefly. The first four words out of his mouth were not repeatable on this family forum. I sat down and I tried to encourage him to take it one day at a time. I could feel he wanted to be with Americans, perhaps even to come back to America. I felt a lot of sadness, and all I could do was to encourage him to keep going and that he would get there.
On the way down I definitely felt he wanted to be with the American group, but I almost tripped up on a vine lying across the path. It symbolized a chain and I had to break it. I couldn't with my hands, so I ate through it with my teeth. Breaking it was good, liberating.
On the way down my only observation was that the tree of all things was not very healthy. Reflecting something? After recounting my experience to myself, I wanted to tell Hyun Jin, but I told God I wouldn’t go to him, he had to come to me.
I cannot share very much about the service that the American group attended as I was mostly running around doing things. But I was impressed with Mrs. Hyo Nam Kim's speech. Very basic but good spirituality 101—what you bind on earth you bind in heaven. I must confess I do not buy into her theory of evil spirits crawling all over my flesh like ants, Father has never taught that, but the rest of it was very good.
Most of the ministers were uplifted and inspired, though quite a number flagged at the end as it did go on rather long. After the service we had a good dinner.
Tomorrow is the blessing.
Yesterday we arrived on a calm overcast day to the Olympic stadium at 10.30 am. It was already almost 1/2 full. Our ministers started arriving and within 1 hour the section given to us was completely full. Many, many more ministers were standing in line waiting. Time to take things into our own hands. People who had come 8,000 miles should not be stopped at the last foot.
I hurried up a ramp to look for an alternative spot on the higher level. The door was closed and guarded by a Korean. Pleading would not help, he was going to keep it closed. We decided to just go for it. The ministers all walked up the ramp and upon seeing them he opened the door. They all got in.
The stadium was jam packed by 12.30 and the pre-show began at 1.00. Two great Korean lady singers rocked the house and a finally a slightly older but more heartistic Korean gentleman wrapped it up. There were still about 5,000—10,000 more people trying to get in, but it was full.
The blessing began at 2.00. Dr. Pak was the MC, what a great voice on an excellent sound system. The nine spiritual leaders were wonderful. True Parents entered to the Halleluia chorus. What a great sight, the helicopter buzzing overhead. I think almost all of the ministers were awed, I certainly was. The ceremony was over much to quickly and the Mansei's were accompanied by great fireworks and balloons.
Little Angels Banquet
In the evening, I attended the convocation closing banquet at the Little Angels center. A great dinner was served and after dinner Father spoke on the subject of true love. After his speech Father wanted to inaugurate two new organizations. Dr. Barrett gave a great call to arms and Father painted two very large beautiful calligraphies. The key organization founded was the Cosmic True Parents Federation.
What could match that? Well the performance of the Little Angels could and did. They were fantastic. Before their finale we were treated to Jin Sung and In Jin's two virtuoso children play the piano. The girl wished Grandpappa and Grandmamma Happy Birthday and said "she loved them." The boy did the same and said "I love you more than my sister". At the end his sister quipped that she loved them even more. So cute.
This morning I attended the Hanmadang Games, again held in the Olympic Gymnasium #1, site of Father's birthday celebration. When we arrived, as it was starting, it was only about a third full, but people kept coming. Hyun Jin gave a good speech in English and then Father spoke in Korean. It seemed that the crowd was very international with a lot of young people from the CIS and Europe. I was happy also to bump into an older Japanese gentleman; Mr. Ishii, still going strong.
Highlights of the closing ceremony were the Tae Kwon Do exhibition, the rhythmic gymnasts and the dance by Korean CARP and HARP students symbolizing the reunification of Korea.
I ended the day with the ministers from New York in a little Korean restaurant having dinner. Many of them reflected their deep gratitude to True Parents and that they had had an incredible time. So have I.
On the way home guess who walks up to me out of the blue in Chicago airport? Yup, you guessed it, Hyun Jin. God is amazing.
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