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As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen

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As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen

Sun Myung Moon
Las Vegas, Nevada, 4 April 2010
Born Mun Yong-myeong
(1920-02-25)25 February 1920
Jeong-ju, North P'yŏng'an, Japanese Korea
(now North Pyongan, North Korea)
Died 3 September 2012(2012-09-03) (aged 92)
Gapyeong, South Korea
Nationality Korean
Occupation Religious leader, business magnate, media mogul
Known for Founder of Unification Church
Spouse(s) Choi Sun-kil (1944–1953)
Hak Ja Han (1960–2012)
Children 16

Sun Myung Moon (Korean 문선명; born Mun Yong-myeong; 25 February 1920 – 3 September 2012) was a Korean religious leader, business magnate and media mogul.[1][2] A self-proclaimed messiah, Moon was the founder of the Unification Church and of its widely noted "Blessing" or mass wedding ceremony.[3][4] Moon's extensive business interests included News World Communications, an international news media corporation[5] which founded The Washington Times and owns other media in several countries,[6][5][7] and Tongil Group, a South Korean business group (chaebol) active in manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, tourism, and publishing. [8][9][10]

Born in what is now North Korea, Moon and his family converted to Christianity when he was a child.[11] In 1954, he founded the Unification Church in Seoul, South Korea based on conservative, family-oriented teachings from new interpretations of the Bible.[12][11] Moon outlined these principles in his book, Explanation of the Divine Principle.[4][11] In the 1960s and 1970s, Moon was a leading figure in a wave of new religious movements that raised controversy on several issues.[1] Followers, who were then sometimes called "Moonies", considered Moon their True Father while critics labeled him a cult leader.[13][14][15] In 1982, he was found guilty of willfully filing false federal income tax returns in a controversial case.[4][16]

Determined to spread his influence beyond religion and improve the church's image with the public, Moon became active in conservative politics, courted world leaders, founded numerous civic organizations and expanded his business interests and affiliated organizations.[1][11][17] An ardent anti-communist and advocate for Korean reunification, his support of right-wing causes helped turn the The Washington Times into a respected newspaper in conservative circles.[18][19][20][21] By the time of his death, Moon had given much of the responsibility for the Unification Church's religious and business activities to his grown children.[1][22][23]

Early life

Sun Myung Moon was born Mun Yong-myeong on 25 February 1920, in modern-day North P'yŏng'an Province, North Korea, at a time when Korea was under Japanese rule. He was the younger of two sons in a farming family of eight children.[12] Moon's family rejected the Shinto faith pushed by the country’s Japanese rulers and followed Confucianist beliefs until he was around 10 years old, when they converted to Christianity and joined the Presbyterian Church.[24] When he was 15, Moon said that Jesus Christ anointed him to carry out his unfinished work by becoming parent to all of humanity.[3][15][25]

In 1941, Moon began studying electrical engineering at Waseda University in Japan.[13] During this time he cooperated with Communist Party members in the Korean independence movement against Imperial Japan.[26] In 1943, he returned to Seoul to marry Sun Kil Choi and they had a son, Sung Jin Moon.[1] Following World War II, Korea was divided along the 38th parallel into two trusteeships: the United States and the Soviet Union.[15]

In 1946, Moon was living in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.[15] Pyongyang was the center of Christian activity in Korea until 1945. From the late forties 166 priests and other religious figures were killed or disappeared in concentration camps, including Francis Hong Yong-ho, bishop of Pyongyang[27] and all monks of Tokwon abbey.[28][29] Moon was arrested by the North Korean authorities on allegations of spying for South Korea and given a five-year sentence to the Hŭngnam labor camp.[12] In 1950, during the Korean War he escaped and fled to Pusan, South Korea. In 1953, Moon and Choi divorced and he had a child with another woman in 1954.[30][31][32]

Unification church

Moon and Hak Ja Han

Founding of church in South Korea

Moon emerged from his years in the labor camp as a staunch anti-communist.[12] His teachings viewed the Cold War between democracy and communism as the final conflict between God and Satan, with divided Korea as its primary front line.[33] At his new church, he preached a conservative, family-oriented value system and his interpretation of the Bible.[4][34] In 1954, Moon formally founded the Unification Church as the "Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity" in Seoul. He quickly drew young acolytes who helped to build the foundations of church affiliated business and cultural organizations.[12][35]


Moon as messiah

The Divine Principle, the main text explaining Moon's theology, blends Bible-based Christianity with Eastern philosophies like Confucianism and Korean folk religions. It makes the core statement that Moon was sent from the East to be the messiah and finish Jesus' mission.[4][15] Moon stated that during the vision he had when he was 15, Jesus Christ called upon him to carry out his unfinished work - his failure to marry.[16][23] Jesus was divine but not God; he was supposed to be the second Adam who would create a perfect family by joining with the ideal wife and creating a pure family that would have begun humanity's liberation from the sinful condition caused by Eve’s illicit sex with Satan.[13] When Jesus was crucified before marrying, he redeemed mankind spiritually but not physically. That task was left to the "True Parents" - Moon and his future wife - who would link married couples and their families to God.[13][17][25]

Marriage to Hak Ja Han, True Parents

Moon married his second wife, Hak Ja Han, on 11 April 1960, soon after she turned 17 years old, in a ceremony called the Holy Marriage. Han, called Mother or True Mother by followers, and her husband together are referred to as the True Parents by members of the Unification Church.

Blessing ceremony

Moon was renowned for presiding over mass "blessing ceremonies", the most famous ritual of the Unification Church.[4][15][24][36] The ceremonies gained international attention for joining thousands of identically dressed brides and grooms - many who had never met before - in matrimony.[2] Meant to highlight the church's emphasis on traditional morality, they brought Moon fame and notoriety in equal measure.[37]

Moon presides over a mass blessing ceremony in 1982

36 couples participated in the first ceremony in 1961 for members of the early church in Seoul, South Korea. The ceremonies continued to grow in scale; over 2,000 couples participated in the 1982 one at New York's Madison Square Garden, the first outside South Korea.[13][11] In 1997, about 30,000 couples took part in a ceremony in Washington, DC.[38]

In church doctrine, the wedding (or marriage re-dedication) ceremony removes couples from the lineage of sinful humanity and grafts them into God’s sinless lineage.[15][24] Any children born after the blessing will be free from the consequences of original sin. For single members of the church, the ceremony is the culmination of a process towards an arranged marriage. Romantic liaisons are forbidden until the members are ready to be matched.[39]

Moon matched couples from differing races and nationalities as part of his belief that all of humanity should be united: "International and intercultural marriages are the quickest way to bring about an ideal world of peace. People should marry across national and cultural boundaries with people from countries they consider to be their enemies so that the world of peace can come that much more quickly."[4][11][25]

World fame

Main article: Timeline of the Unification Church § 1970s

In the 1970s, Moon, who had seldom before spoken to the general public, gave a series of public speeches to audiences in the United States, Japan, and South Korea. The largest were a rally in 1975 against North Korean aggression in Seoul and a speech at an event organized by the Unification Church in Washington D.C.[40] [41]

In 1971, Moon moved to the United States, which he had first visited in 1965. He remained a citizen of the Republic of Korea and maintained a residence in South Korea.[42] In 1972, Moon founded the International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences, a series of scientific conferences.[43][44] The first conference had 20 participants, while the largest conference in Seoul in 1982, had 808 participants from over 100 countries.[45][46] Participants included Nobel laureates John Eccles (Physiology or Medicine 1963, who chaired the 1976 conference),[47] Eugene Wigner (Physics 1963).[48]

In 1974, Moon asked church members in the United States to support President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal when Nixon was being pressured to resign his office. Church members prayed and fasted in support of Nixon for three days in front of the United States Capitol, under the motto: "Forgive, Love and Unite." On 1 February 1974 Nixon publicly thanked them for their support and officially received Moon. This brought the church into widespread public and media attention.[49]

In 1982, Moon sponsored the US$50 million movie Inchon about the Korean War.[50]

In 1982 The Washington Times was founded by News World Communications, an international media conglomerate associated with Moon which also owns newspapers in South Korea, Japan, and South America, as well as the news agency United Press International.[51] Bo Hi Pak, Moon's chief aide, was the founding president and the founding chairman of the board.[52] The political views of The Washington Times are often described as conservative.[53][54][55] The Washington Times was a favorite read for President Ronald Reagan, but never a financial success.[56] By 1991, Moon said he spent about $1 billion on the paper[57] (by 2002 roughly $1.7 billion),[58] which he called "the instrument in spreading the truth about God to the world".[59]

In August 1985, seven years before the fall of Soviet Union, the Professors World Peace Academy, an organization founded by Moon, sponsored a conference in Geneva to debate the theme "The situation in the world after the fall of the communist empire."[60]

United States v. Sun Myung Moon

In 1982, Moon was convicted in the United States of filing false federal income tax returns and conspiracy. His conviction was upheld on appeal in a split decision. Moon was given an 18-month sentence and a $15,000 fine. He served 13 months of the sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution, Danbury before being released on good behavior to a halfway house.[61]

The case was the center of national freedom of religion and free speech debates.[62] Prof. Laurence H. Tribe of the Harvard University Law School argued that the trial by jury had "doomed (Moon) to conviction based on religious prejudice."[63] The American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A, the National Council of Churches, the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference filed briefs in support of Moon.[64] Many notable clergy, including Jerry Falwell and Joseph Lowery, signed petitions protesting the government's case and spoke out in defense of Moon.[65][66]

1990s events

Main article: Timeline of the Unification Church § 1990s

In April 1990, Moon visited the Soviet Union and met with President Mikhail Gorbachev. Moon expressed support for the political and economic transformations under way in the Soviet Union. At the same time the Unification Church was expanding into formerly communist nations.[67] In 1991, he met with Kim Il Sung, the North Korean President, to discuss ways to achieve peace on the Korean peninsula, as well as on international relations, tourism, etc.[68] In 1994, Moon was officially invited to the funeral of Kim Il Sung, in spite of the absence of diplomatic relations between North Korea and South Korea.[69]

Twenty first Century events

Main article: Timeline of the Unification Church § 2000s

In 2000, Moon sponsored a United Nations conference which proposed the formation of "a religious assembly, or council of religious representatives, within the structure of the United Nations."[70] In the same year, he joined with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in sponsoring the Million Family March in Washington D.C., a follow-up event to the Million Man March held in 1995.[71]

In 2003 Moon sponsored the first Peace Cup international club football tournament.[72][73][74] The Los Angeles Galaxy, which competes in Major League Soccer, played in South Korea in the Peace Cup.[75] During the event Pelé, widely regarded as the best soccer player of all time and former Brazilian Sports Minister, met with Moon.[76]

On 12 September 2005, at the age of 85, Moon inaugurated the Universal Peace Federation with a 120-city world speaking tour.[77] At each city, Moon delivered his speech titled "God's Ideal Family – the Model for World Peace".

In April 2008, Moon appointed his youngest son Hyung Jin Moon to be the new leader of the Unification Church and the worldwide Unification Movement, saying, "I hope everyone helps him so that he may fulfil his duty as the successor of the True Parents."[78]

In 2009, Moon's autobiography, As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen (Korean: 평화를 사랑하는 세계인으로),[79] was published by Gimm-Young Publishers in South Korea. The book became a best-seller in Korea and Japan.[80][81][82][83]

By 2010, Moon had given much of the responsibility for the Unification Church's religious and business activities to their children, who were then in their 30s and 40s.[84] In 2012, the South Korean press reported that Moon traveled worldwide in his private jet which cost $50 million.[85][86]

Illness and death

On 14 August 2012, after suffering from pneumonia earlier in the month, Moon was admitted to Saint Mary's Hospital at The Catholic University of Korea in Seoul.[87] On 15 August 2012, he was reported to be gravely ill and was put on a respirator at the intensive care unit of St. Mary’s Hospital.[88] On 31 August 2012, Moon was transferred to a church-owned hospital near his home in Gapyeong, northeast of Seoul,[89] after suffering multiple organ failure.[90] Moon died on the morning of 3 September 2012 (1:54 am KST) at the age of 92.[91]

Honorary degrees and other recognition

Moon held honorary degrees from more than ten universities and colleges worldwide;[92][93][94] at least one of which, the University of Bridgeport, received significant funding from his organizations.[95] He was a member of the Honorary Committee of the Unification Ministry of the Republic of Korea.[96] In 1985, Moon and his wife received Doctor of Divinity degrees from Shaw University.[97]

In 2004, at a ceremony on 23 March in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, in Washington, D.C., Moon crowned himself with what he called the "Crown of Peace", in the presence of numerous U.S. representatives. Some lawmakers who attended subsequently told reporters that they had been misled as to the nature of the event.[98][99]

Moon was posthumously awarded North Korea's National Reunification Prize in 2012[100] and a meritorious award by K-League.[101][102] On the first anniversary of Moon's death, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressed condolences to Han and the family saying: "Kim Jong-un prayed for the repose of Moon, who worked hard for national concord, prosperity and reunification and world peace."[103]

In 2013, Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai stated: "I remain greatly inspired by people like Reverend Dr. Sun Myung Moon, whose work and life across continents continue to impact positively on the lives of millions of others in the world."[104]

Activities and interests


In 1964 Moon founded the Korean Culture and Freedom Foundation, which promoted the interests of South Korea and sponsored Radio Free Asia. Former U.S. Presidents Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon were honorary presidents or directors at various times.[105]

In 1980, Moon asked church members to found CAUSA International as an anti-communist educational organization, based in New York.[106] In the 1980s, it was active in 21 countries. In the United States it sponsored educational conferences for Christian leaders[107] as well as seminars and conferences for Senate staffers and other activists.[108] In 1986, it produced the anti-communist documentary film Nicaragua Was Our Home.[109]

Moon founded the Family Party for Universal Peace and Unity in different countries.[110] Thus, Ek Nath Dhakal, a Member of Parliament (MP) from the party is a member of the Unification Movement and leader of the Nepalese chapter of the Universal Peace Federation.[111] Official events have periodically been held in honor of Sun Myung Moon in the municipalities of Korea.[112] Moon's projects have been lobbied in the National Congress of Brazil by Brazilian MPs.[113][114][115] Moon has held dialogues between members of the Israeli Knesset and the Palestinian Parliament as part of his Middle East Peace Initiatives.[116]


Main article: Unification Church business activities

News World Communications, is an international news media corporation[5] founded by Moon in 1976. It owns United Press International, The World and I, Tiempos del Mundo (Latin America), The Segye Ilbo (South Korea), The Sekai Nippo (Japan), the Zambezi Times (South Africa), The Middle East Times (Egypt).[117] Until 2008 it published the Washington D.C. based newsmagazine Insight on the News.[5] Until 2010, it owned the Washington Times. On 2 November 2010, Sun Myung Moon and a group of former Times editors purchased the Times from News World.[118]

Tongil Group is a South Korean business group (chaebol "Tongil" is Korean for "unification," the name of the Unification Church in Korean is "Tongilgyo."), founded in 1963 by Moon as a nonprofit organization which would provide revenue for the church. Its core focus was manufacturing but in the 1970s and 1980s it expanded by founding or acquiring businesses in pharmaceuticals, tourism, and publishing. [8] Among Tongil Group’s chief holdings are: The Ilwha Company, which produces ginseng and related products; Ilshin Stone, building materials; and Tongil Heavy Industries, machine parts including hardware for the South Korean military.[10]

The church is the largest owner of U.S. sushi restaurants and in the Kodiak region of Alaska, is the area's largest employer.[119][120] The church owns the only automobile manufacturing plant in North Korea, Pyeonghwa Motors, and is the second largest exporter of Korean goods.[121][122][123][124]

In 1989, Moon founded Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma,[125] the most successful soccer club in Korean football, having won a record 7 league titles, 2 FA Cups, 3 League Cups, and 2 AFC Champions League titles.

In 2004, Moon held an opening ceremony of the largest helicopter manufacturer in Asia, with 500 VIPs participating. Called Washington Times Aviation, the company produces Sikorsky helicopters on a sub-contract basis.[126] The same year, Moon launched a $ 1.5-billion construction project to build 70-story twin skyscrapers in Seoul.[127] The next year he bought an area of 46,000 m² in Seoul, also for the construction of skyscrapers.[128] Currently the project is under construction and scheduled to be completed by 2013.[129]

In 2011, construction of $18 million Yeosu Expo Hotel was completed; the hotel located at Moon-owned The Ocean Resort in Yeosu, the venue of the Expo 2012.[130] The opening ceremony was attended by the governor of the province.[130][131] Another one, The Ocean Hotel, was completed in February 2012.[132] Moon-owned Yeongpyeong Resort, The Ocean Resort and Pineridge Resort are scheduled to host the Expo 2012,[133][134] 2018 Winter Olympics[135][136] and Formula 1.[137] Moon also managed the FIFA-accredited Peace Cup.[138] The FIFA itself has funded more than $2m for the Peace Cup since 2003.[139]


In 1962, Moon and other church members founded the Little Angels Children’s Folk Ballet of Korea, a children's dance troop which presents traditional Korean folk dances. He said that this was to project a positive image of South Korea to the world.[140] In 1990, Moon founded the $8-million Universal Ballet project, with Soviet-born Oleg Vinogradov as its art director and Moon's daughter-in-law Julia as its prima ballerina. It was described by The New York Times as the top Asian ballet company.[141]

In 2010, the Little Angels traveled to the United States to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. This was sponsored by the Korean War 60th Anniversary Memorial Committee, whose chairman, Bo Hi Pak, is also the president of the Little Angels.[142] Later that year they traveled to the other 15 nations which had sent troops to support South Korea in the United Nations force.[143][144] In 2011, the Universal Ballet spent about $10 million on a tour of dozens of countries. In 2013 the ballet will tour with the Little Angels in the U.S., Canada, Japan, G-20 countries and major cities of Russia.[145] The tour is partially funded by the South Korean government.[146]


Further reading

External links

  • Biography in church sponsored encyclopedia
  • Short biography at US church home page
  • Teachings Integrated videos and transcripts

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