Top photo: Moon Sun-myung (left) meets North Korean founder Kim Il-sung in Pyongyang 6 December 1991. (Yonhap News)
Following Sun Myung Moon’s passing in September 2012, The Korea Herald reflected on the relationship he and Mrs Moon (Hak Ja Han) had built with North Korea over 20 years.
Moon builds 20 years of relations with North Korea
By Shin Hyon-hee
Sept 3, 2012
Moon Sun-myung, the deceased founder of the Unification Church, had developed ties with North Korea over the past two decades through a raft of industrial and aid projects.
Born in Jeongju, North Pyeongan Province, Moon made a foray into the reclusive country after a 1991 meeting with Kim Il-sung, its late founding father.
While Moon also urged the resumption of inter-Korean talks and reunions of separated families during the meeting, Kim reportedly asked him to arrange a meeting with George H.W. Bush, the U.S. president at the time.
The landmark talks led to various programs. The church set up a firm in 1994 to carry out tours to Mount Geumgang and created a 300,000-square-meter peace park in his hometown a few years later. It also launched a council for consistent humanitarian assistance to Pyongyang in 2000 and has invested in a light industry complex in the southeastern port city of Wonsan and the Raseon special economic zone.
December 6, 1991
True Parents Meet Kim Il Sung
True Parents met North Korean President Kim Il Sung on December 6, 1991. Their meeting was the high point of a week-long visit to North Korea that had begun on November 30. It also culminated more than four decades of True Father’s public work as he returned to the land of his birth, upbringing and call to ministry. More than that, it encapsulated and vindicated True Parents’ life course as they turned a former enemy into a friend. True Father stated on his return:
“No one can claim more justification than I for harboring feelings of ill will against North Korea. I received severe persecution from the current government of North Korea because of my position as a religious leader and my unswerving anticommunist principles. I was tortured harshly and then imprisoned for nearly three years in a labor camp. There I witnessed the deaths of many who also had been imprisoned without cause. …
Now I have visited North Korea in the spirit of true love. True love is love that loves even that which cannot be loved. …
As I set foot in Pyongyang, my heart was as clear as the autumn sky. I did not feel that I was entering the house of my enemy, but rather that I was returning to my hometown to visit the house of my brother. I carried with me to North Korea the principle that I have always lived by: that is, to forgive, love and unite.”
Still, it wasn’t easy. North Koreans were shocked by the manner and extent to which True Father criticized their ideology. Besides saying, “Juche ideology is not going to work. … The world is not this small. … You people are in … [a] cave,” True Father made several staggering proposals. In one meeting he asked the government officials in the audience to persuade Kim Il Sung to place a large announcement in the North Korean newspaper instructing that the 30,000 to 40,000 spies and agents in the South surrender to Rev. Moon and be instructed in his headwing ideology. In another session, True Father stated that he had to be the initiator and leader of reunification efforts, with Kim Il Sung and South Korean President Roh Tae-woo working as deputies under him.
North Korean officials who had dealt with True Father were fearful of a disastrous encounter with their leader. However, their fears were misplaced. Kim Il Sung directed that True Father’s speech at an opening banquet be published in North Korea’s only newspaper, Rodong Shinmun, and it was, word for word, including all references to God. He also overruled his subordinates and insisted that he wanted not only to meet Rev. Moon but also “to have lunch with him as well.” According to Dr. Bo Hi Pak, “The big man recognized the big man.”
Significantly Kim Il Sung chose to meet True Parents at his Hamheung palace, about one hundred and fifty miles from Pyongyang, near Heungnam. In fact, the route from the state guesthouse to Kim Il Sung’s residence passed right by the Heungnam prison and fertilizer plant where True Father had been imprisoned for two years and eight months from 1948 to 1950. Dr. Pak speculated that this was a symbolic apology for earlier mistreatment.
On meeting, True Father and Kin Il Sung gave one another “a big bear hug.” Their private 90-minute conference went exceedingly well, with True Father cordially presenting his ideas for Korean reunification and Kim Il Sung reportedly initiating applause and saying “thank you” three times. They exchanged hunting and fishing stories during the two-and-a-half-hour luncheon and afterward strolled hand in hand down a long hallway for official pictures.
The Pyongyang newspaper carried a large front-page photo of them holding hands with big smiles on their faces, something that North Korea experts regarded as extraordinary. Later, the Segye Ilbocarried the same photograph. Kim Il Sung reportedly requested True Father to arrange a meeting with U.S. President George H.W. Bush. He also offered True Father first rights to develop North Korea’s Diamond Mountains as a tourist area. They both agreed to cooperate in establishing a place where members of separated families could meet and in facilitating the exchange of mail. Kim Il Sung told True Father that he would preserve his birthplace as a shrine and that he was welcome to return any time.
December 7, 1941
Japan Attacks Pearl Harbor
On the morning of December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy launched a surprise military attack against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Japanese sank or damaged all eight U.S. battleships, three cruisers, and three destroyers. One hundred eighty-eight U.S. aircraft were destroyed; 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 others were wounded. The following day, December 8, the United States declared war on Japan. President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed December 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy.”
During the war True Father was enrolled in Waseda Koutou Kougakko, a technical engineering school affiliated with Waseda University in Japan, while active in the Korean student underground independence movement. He began his public ministry with the defeat of Japan and independence of Korea in 1945.
December 7-9, 1974
San Francisco Bay Area Welcomes “The Day of Hope”
True Father’s December 7-9, 1974, San Francisco Bay Area Day of Hope tour stop was the greatest success since Madison Square Garden. The December 7 kickoff banquet, held at the Fairmont Hotel, brought out 1,160 San Franciscans. A letter of welcome from California Governor Ronald Reagan was read, and proclamations were announced from San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, San Leandro, Concord, Burlingame, San Mateo, Stockton, Menlo Park and Hayward. The city of Oakland proclaimed December 9 as Sun Myung Moon Day and presented True Father with a tie tack and cuff links in the shape of an oak tree.
The December 9 talk brought 5,000 people to the 3,200-seat San Francisco Opera House, with the overflow directed to the Municipal Auditorium a block away.
December 7, 2002
National Blessing for Reconciliation
True Parents conducted an “Interreligious and International World Peace Blessing and Marriage Rededication Ceremony” on December 7, 2002. It was the fourth in a series of clergy and interreligious blessings conducted during that year. This Holy Marriage Blessing, also referred to as the “National Blessing for Reconciliation,” marked the 61st anniversary of the Japanese bombing raid on Pearl Harbor. It included some 300 Japanese leaders who expressed their wish for reconciliation among former enemy nations.
More than 1,200 couples filled the Marriott Crystal Gateway in Arlington, Virginia, which was the main Blessing venue. The Rev. Dr. E.V. Hill, a nationally famous pastor and friend of presidents, participated and said in his public remarks, “God meant for me to be with you. All races and religions are here. I am meant to be with you and know you and become your brother.” There was a reconciliation ceremony for three representatives of the Abrahamic faiths and others for representatives of the communist and democratic worlds, white and black pastors, and for Native Americans. It was noteworthy that American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) pastors formed a highly effective outreach team in supporting the Holy Marriage Blessing.
December 9, 1969
Korean Cultural Foundation established
The Korean Cultural Foundation was established in Seoul on December 9, 1969, in order to support the Little Angels, who had been enhancing the nation’s prestige by promoting Korean culture around the world.
In obedience to True Parents’ instructions, Korean elders created a foundation to manage the Little Angels. They obtained permission from the Ministry of Culture in December 1969. The Little Angels troupe has visited more than seventy nations, performing more than six thousand times, and, acting as an emissary of peace, has met top-level leaders in more than fifty nations. (Courtesy of the History Compilation Committee.)
December 9, 1993
True Mother’s first speech in South America
The first-ever speech of True Mother in South America took place at the Naun Plaza Hotel in Brasilia, Brazil, on December 9, 1993. At this speech, part of True Mother’s “True Parents and the Completed Testament Age Tour,” the president of Brazil’s Congresso Nacional warmly welcomed her. She spoke about the importance of the mother’s role in the Completed Testament Age, and the audience responded with warm applause. The South American leg of her speaking tour continued through Montevideo, Uruguay, on December 10, Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 11, and Lima, Peru, on December 13. (Courtesy of the History Compilation Committee.)
December 9, 2018
Minnesota Family Church Dedicated
On December 9, 2018, the first-ever Unification Church building in the U.S. to be built from the ground-up, celebrated its grand opening and dedication. Since its ground-breaking on May 20, the Minnesota Family Church dedicated itself to the realization of the $3 million project, more than three years in the making. Having spent more than two years of searching and failing to with offers to purchase an existing church building and having reviewed over 50 potential plots of land, the current site was found next to a beautiful park not far from the church’s previous location.
At the dedication, District 9 Pastor Rev. Hyungtae Ha expressed his appreciation to North America Continental Chair, Dr. Ki Hoon Kim for his prayers and joenseoung for the community. He noted that Minnesota was Dr. Kim’s first assigned district as a leader in the 1980s. Dr. Kim obtained True Mother’s approval for the project, was present for the ground-breaking and joined in the dedication. The new building was designed to contain a stunning sanctuary, a social hall and a youth education zone. Rev. Ha emphasized that members were not only constructing a new physical church but also creating a vision for the future, supporting True Mother’s direction for witnessing, blessing and youth education. He also offered thanks for donations that poured in from around the country. It was noted that the beautiful and modern building will serve as a model and reference for any communities who are planning to build a church of their own.
December 10, 2013
True Mother and Korean FFWPU Aid Typhoon-Afflicted Philippines
Super Typhoon Haiyan—one of the strongest storms recorded on the planet—smashed into the Philippines on November 8, 2013. The deadliest Philippine typhoon recorded in modern history, it killed at least 6,300 people. The international community responded generously with monetary aid and aid workers. One Unificationist city leader was killed and 100 members in the Philippines’ central region were left homeless.
After hearing reports about the situation in the Philippines on November 15, True Mother gave a direction that one million dollars should be sent to the Philippines, and the Korean Family Church designated November 17 as a “Day to Support Members in the Philippines,” fasting in the morning and kicking off a campaign to collect donations and relief supplies until December 10. Korean FFWPU President Kyeng Seuk Lu visited the Philippines, bringing with him 200,000 dollars in donations collected by Korean church members and delivering a message of encouragement. More than 5,000 Philippine church members who had participated in international marriage blessings were living in Korea, and another 7,000 in Japan.
December 11, 1964
German Unification Church legally registered
The German Unification Church was the first to be established in Europe, and its founding is considered also to be the beginning of the European church.
The roots of the European and German church go back to 1961, when several Germans who lived in the United States joined under Dr. Young Oon Kim in San Francisco. After three years, several returned to their home country.
The first was Peter Koch, who arrived on June 11, 1963, in his hometown of Muenster, Germany. Following him were Ursula Schuhmann, Barbara Koch (Vincenz), Paul and Christel Werner with their 11-year-old son, Klaus, Elke Klawiter, and Peter Politzki. The first member who joined in Germany was Reiner Vincenz, who joined in the summer of 1964.
December 11, 1971
True Parents Arrive in America
Accompanied by Mrs. Won Bok Choi, Rev. Young Hwi Kim (president, HSA-UWC Korea) and Mr. Mitsuharu Ishii (director, HSA-UWC Business Enterprises, Japan), True Parents arrived in Los Angeles, California, on December 11, 1971, to begin a new phase in their global ministry. However, things did not go smoothly: They were denied visas, ironically, because of alleged communist affiliations. As a consequence, the group flew to Toronto, Canada, the next day.
This problem was straightened out over the following week, thanks to high-level contacts that U.S. Unificationists had cultivated through the Freedom Leadership Foundation (FLF). Cleared to enter the United States, True Parents arrived in Washington, D.C., on December 18. It was there that True Father announced his plan to hold revival meetings in major U.S. cities. As the Unification Church in America to this point consisted of disparate missionary groups, it is appropriate to date the birth of the church in America from True Parents’ arrival. And since True Father had not spoken publicly either in Korea or Japan, the birth of the U.S. church coincided with the beginning of a new phase in his public ministry.
December 11, 1985
True Father Returns to Korea after Danbury
The “Danbury Course” was decisive in sparking widespread grassroots support for True Father across the United States from minority communities and those concerned about religious and civil liberties. In fact, a broad spectrum of 1,600 clergy and prominent laypeople welcomed True Father back from prison at a “God and Freedom” banquet held in his honor at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.
A similar event occurred in Korea on December 11, 1985, when some 2,300 dignitaries from a diversity of fields, including a former prime minister of the Republic of Korea, attended a welcoming banquet at the Hilton Hotel Convention Center to pay tribute to the conclusion of True Father’s 40-year ministry and to welcome him back to his homeland. Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone of Japan and five former presidents of Latin American countries presented gifts and plaques of appreciation.
From this point, True Parents initiated activities in Korea through the Korean Root-Finding Association, the Citizens’ Federation for the Unification of the Fatherland, the Segye Ilbo newspaper, business investments and cultural work that would culminate in his meeting with North Korean President Kim Il Sung in 1991.
Sources: The Korea Herald and the Sunhak Institute of History (USA), accessed 11/12/2021.