WP 03/30 Theological Uproar in Unification Church; Rev.
Theological Uproar in Unification Church; Rev. Moon Recognizes
Zimbabwean as His Reincarnated Son
By Michael Isikoff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Every night last fall, students at the Unification Theological
Seminary would gather for the latest revelations from the land of
the dead. A senior named Charles was hearing voices -
"channeling," it was called - and relaying startling messages:
Heung Jin Nim Moon, the late son of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, was
speaking from the "spirit world," watching and judging them.
Then last November, the sprawling 230-acre campus in upstate
New York was abuzz. The moment had arrived, seminary officials
proclaimed: "Lord" Heung Jin Nim, killed in a 1984 car crash at
age 17, had come back, reincarnated in the body of a visiting
church member from Zimbabwe.
"About mid-November, I was told there was a black brother from
Africa who had been prepared by Jesus . . . and that Heung Jin
Nim had assumed his body," said Dick Richard, a former seminary
student who recently left the church. "It obviously scared a lot
of people there . . Moon, the Messiah."
In the months since, the Unification Church has experienced
what some members believe is the most momentous spiritual event
in its 34-year history. The appearance of the young Zimbabwean -
apparently accepted by Moon as the reincarnated soul of his dead
son - has sparked a theological uproar among Moon's followers,
generating new debate over the direction of his controversial
Among those most troubled are political groups and journalists
who have aligned themselves with - or gone to work for - some of
Moon's secular enterprises. Some senior officials of The
Washington Times, which was founded by Moon, have been anguished
over the affair, according to sources there. While now publicly
dismissing reports about the new Heung Jin Nim as "wild" rumor,
Editor in Chief Arnaud de Borchgrave previously worried that the
Zimbabwean might be a North Korean plant designed to discredit
Moon because of his staunch anticommunism, according to two of de
"From the bottom of my navel, I don't want to know about
this," said Ron Godwin, The Times' senior vice president for
business and a former executive of Jerry Falwell's Moral
Majority, when asked about the new Heung Jin Nim. "I know that
such a person exists and that he's been preaching in the church.
But I will walk a mile not to get involved . .
At least one issue has worried many of the paper's executives:
Details are skimpy, but Bo Hi Pak, the Times president, was
admitted to Georgetown Hospital for tests last year from Dec. 9
to Dec. 17, saying he had recently fallen down a flight of
stairs, according to hospital sources. No injuries were found.
Later, Pak underwent surgery in South Korea to repair a blood
vessel in his skull, according to Times executives.
Many at the newspaper and in the church, although they have no
firsthand knowledge, believe the Zimbabwean is responsible for
Pak's injuries. Kate Tsubata, a church member, said she attended
a lecture in January by a church elder who referred to Pak's
having been beaten by the reincarnated Heung Jin Nim. "There are
a lot of people around here who would like to do to this guy what
he did to Dr. Pak," said a senior Times official, who asked not
to be identified.
Another element to the story has created, if not anguish, than
no small degree of curiosity. Four years ago, Moon married off a
dancer in the Washington Ballet named Hoon Sook Pak to the spirit
of his recently deceased son. The union was critical because
Unification theology teaches that one must be married to ascend
to heaven, church members say. The teen-age Heung Jin Nim was
single when he died.
Hoon Sook Pak, who has since taken the name of Julia Moon, is
the daughter of Pak, the Times president. The arrival of the
Zimbabwean last fall set off speculation within the church.
Would Julia Moon live as the wife of the new Heung Jin Nim?
"There was quite a bit of talk about that," said John Raineri,
a member of the church for 12 years and a photographer at The
World and I, a sister publication of The Washington Times.
"People wanted to know."
But the new Heung Jin Nim soon addressed the ticklish issue
directly. Since the Zimbabwean's body was merely the instrument
of Heung Jin Nim's spirit, there was no need for him to cohabit
with Julia Moon. "I'm not for her," the Zimbabwean explained at a
San Francisco ceremony, according to Rainieri. "I'm not destined
Much more about the new Heung Jin Nim is mysterious. Even his
original name, what passport he carries and his whereabouts (he
is believed to be in either South Korea or Zimbabwe) remain
official church secrets. When Raineri tried to take pictures of
the Zimbabwean in Washington last November, he said, church
security officials seized his camera, saying they feared an
It isn't even clear whether the Zimbabwean's exalted position
is permanent. "He carries the spirit of Heung Jin Nim, but no one
knows how long it will stay," said one senior official in Moon's
"These are internal matters," said John Biermans, spokesman
for the Unification Church, when asked to comment for this story.
"These aren't things that are relevant to the public."
Nevertheless, interviews with more than a dozen church
members, former church members and officials of organizations
financed by Moon's businesses have established this much:
The Zimbabwean, described as a baby-faced black man of medium
build in his early twenties, was a Unification Church member for
three years when he began making claims last year to hearing the
voice of Heung Jin Nim. After word of these revelations spread
during the summer, Chung Hwan Kwak, the director of the church's
World Missions Center in New York, flew to Zimbabwe to
investigate, according to Gordon Anderson, Kwak's deputy and the
secretary general of the Moon-financed Professors World Peace
Kwak apparently determined that the Zimbabwean was the genuine
article. "It was the way this brother had profound insights into
(Moon's) Divine Principles, which is our main teaching," said
Anderson. "There were insights Rev. Kwak had never heard before
. . . insights as profound as Rev. Moon's."
Other church accounts are more specific. "Rev. Moon gave him
(Kwak) five questions which only his son could have known about
and he (the Zimbabwean) answered every one," said Kate Tsubata,
quoting church literature and accounts from church leaders. "When
the guy came to America, Mother and Father flung their arms
around him and hugged him .
Since the fateful encounter with Kwak, the Zimbabwean, having
taken the name of Heung Jin Nim, has toured Europe, the United
States and South Korea, preaching about world peace, Adam and
Eve, and the "Divine Principles." He has presided over church
ceremonies of confession, admonishing the faithful for their
sins. One unfaithful husband was ordered to stand and kiss his
wife in public for 20 minutes straight.
He appears to have enormous stamina. "The guy talks nonstop,"
said photographer Raineri, who saw the Zimbabwean in a circus
tent on campgrounds outside San Francisco. "I've seen him speak
for three days straight and he doesn't rest the whole time."
He wears pastel-colored Oriental robes, speaks perfect English
and has a great booming laugh. He appears to know not a word of
Korean. Sometimes, he gets political. A Heung Jin Nim prayer
sheet distributed within the church calls on members to pray that
the 1988 elections "favor TP" (True Parent) and for the American
Freedom Coalition, a Moon-sponsored political lobbying group,
which has been promoting a pardon for Oliver North.
While causing great excitement within the church, the Heung
Jin Nim "reincarnation" has taken some further strange twists.
In some of the ceremonies, the new Heung Jin Nim has reportedly
gotten rough, slapping or hitting some church members, according
to present and former church sources.
Dick Richard said he saw one student with a black eye shortly
after seeing the Zimbabwean. Tsubata tells of a friend who
recounted being slapped repeatedly, 10 or 12 times. "He described
them as stinging slaps to the face, causing him to see stars,"
she said. "But afterwards, he felt good."
Anderson met the Zimbabwean last fall at a church ceremony in
the World Missions Center in midtown Manhattan. About 100 church
members were present, he said. Their heads were bowed as the new
Heung Jin Nim walked around the room listening to each one's
confession and instructing them to repent, usually by fasting and
special 5 a.m. prayers, recalled Anderson.
"He did slap, but he didn't strike hard enough to hurt
anyone," said Anderson, a member of the church for 14 years who
holds a doctorate in philosophy of religion. "He cuffed me on the
ear a little bit."
Anderson also said listening to the Zimbabwean was deeply
moving. "I don't know what it was like for the 5,000 when Jesus
was preaching to them," he said. "But he was very . . .
The most sensational aspect of the Heung Jin Nim saga -
dealing with Pak, the presumptive father-in-law of Heung Jin
Nim's spirit - is also the murkiest. According to accounts that
have been circulating within the church for months, Pak and other
members of the "36 families" - the inner circle of Moon's
disciples - were summoned to meet the Zimbabwean and confess
shortly after his arrival last fall. No outsiders were present.
None attending the session has spoken publicly.
Stories that Pak had been injured spread rapidly throughout
the church, partly because of Pak's position as Moon's most loyal
deputy. Questions arose as to whether the Zimbabwean was
responsible. Kate Tsubata said she was inclined to be skeptical
until she heard the church elder describe a meeting with the Rev.
Moon in which Moon was asked about the new Heung Jin Nim's
reported violence. The lecturer "then added how `even Col. Pak
had been beaten,' " said Tsubata. "He just let it drop . . . It
was quite significant."
Pak is out of the country and unavailable for comment,
according to his office. "It's a sensitive matter," said Pak's
son, Jonathan Park, yesterday. "It would be totally inappropriate
for me to comment one way or another."
Since the incident, Pak has rarely been seen around The
Washington Times. He attended the office Christmas party two
days after his release from the hospital and had to be led around
the building by an aide clutching his elbow. "He literally
couldn't walk without assistance," recalled Kirk Oberfeld,
managing editor of Insight, a national weekly magazine published
by The Times. "He was dizzy, his equilibrium had been affected."
When asked about his health then, Pak was mum. "It was very
clear he didn't want to talk about it," Oberfeld said. "He just
said, `I'm not feeling terribly well.' "
Pak returned to Korea, where, according to sources at the
newspaper, he was hospitalized once again, undergoing head
surgery. He returned to The Times, smiling and ambulatory but
somewhat weaker and subdued on Friday, March 18. Times officials
put up a big "Welcome Home, Dr. Pak" banner in their auditorium,
and Pak spoke for about 10 minutes, telling the assembled he was
making a "rapid recovery." The next day, a Saturday when the
newsroom is mostly empty, Pak and Moon arrived at The Times
together, touring the newsroom and offices.
More recently, reports of the Zimbabwean's roughness have
tapered off. When Raineri attended the ceremony in San
Francisco, he said, the new Heung Jin Nim did little more than
grip people by the shoulder.
"I believe he must have gotten some word from Father to lay
off the physical thing," said Raineri.
John Rees, a co-owner with de Borchgrave of Early Warning, a
private intelligence newsletter, said he first learned about the
Zimbabwean around Christmas and quickly called it to the
attention of the Times editor in chief.
"His attitude was primarily one of concern that it would make
the paper look ludicrous," recalled Rees about his conversation
with de Borchgrave. "He immediately came to the conclusion that
Heung Jin Nim was a plant by the North Koreans."
"That certainly occurred to me," said de Borchgrave this week.
"The North Koreans have had a very strong presence in Zimbabwe
since day one."
But, in a telephone interview from Paris, de Borchgrave
emphasized that he has since dismissed the entire matter as
nothing more than unconfirmed rumors. "It just sounds so
ridiculous," said de Borchgrave. "This nameless Zimbabwean - that
strikes me as suspicious right there . tell you."
But de Borchgrave acknowledges he has not pursued the
question. A veteran foreign correspondent who formerly worked
for Newsweek, de Borchgrave said he met with Pak in South Korea
shortly after Pak's surgery and never brought the matter up. He
also met with Moon. "The conversation was entirely about the
future of the world, about glasnost and perestroika," said de
Did he ask Moon about Heung Jin Nim? "Good God, no," he said.
"There's all sorts of crazy happenings in my church - the
Catholic Church - and I don't try to find out about them."
De Borchgrave did pick up the latest information circulating
in church circles: that the Zimbabwean plans to start a newspaper
in his native land. But, he concluded, "all of this does not
affect the (Times) in any shape, matter or form."
Others are not so sure. Although nobody purports to know what
higher purpose Moon has in mind, some students of his movement
believe the appearance of the new Heung Jin Nim signals an
upheaval in his church. According to this theory, prominent
among some at the Times, "Moon is playing Mao and the Zimbabwean
is his Red Guard."
Frederick Sontag, a Claremont College philosophy professor and
Moon biographer, notes that even while Moon's political and
business activities have expanded in recent years, his religious
following has dwindled, having lost the fervor of earlier days.
Sontag estimates the number of U.S. members in the church at less
than 5,000, and others put the figure below 3,000.
"The church began as a spiritual movement, but in recent
years, it's become sort of humdrum and dissolved into more of a
business," said Sontag, who serves as the editorial director of
Paragon House, a Moon-financed publishing company. "This (the
reincarnation of Heung Jin Nim) has been revitalizing . . . a
sort of calling back to spiritualism WP 03/28 Even in South
Korea, Few Know Extent of Rev. ...
Even in South Korea, Few Know Extent of Rev. Moon's Empire
By Fred Hiatt
Washington Post Foreign Service
SEOUL - In a skyscraper office high above the Han River, men
in identical navy athletic jackets and women in tailored brown
suits worked their way through piles of papers and files.
In one corner of the large room crowded with wooden desks, a
portrait of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon sat on the floor, leaning
against a wall. It was the only visible clue that this recently
opened headquarters of the Tong Il Co. Ltd. was the control room
of Moon's business empire in his native land, the flagship of
Unification Church enterprises in South Korea.
Moon's business efforts in the United States, from fishing
boats to newspapers to flower-selling in airports, have been
objects of curiosity and extensive investigations. But even
within South Korea, few people realize that the church also
controls one of the largest and fastest-growing conglomerates in
this nation's fast-growing economy.
The Tong Il Co. alone, one of more than 20 firms associated
with the church in South Korea, employs more than 5,500 people
and last year sold nearly $200 million worth of auto parts,
machinery and weapons. Total sales for the seven largest firms
in the conglomerate were estimated at $460 million, an increase
of 40 percent over the previous year, according to business
analysts here. The Tong Il group's products range from machine
guns to ginseng tea, from axles to ornamental pagodas carved from
Although it began as a rudimentary firm manufacturing shotguns
and relying on church members' unpaid labor in 1959, it has
evolved into a modern industrial combine that connects to the
church only at the top, analysts say. The businesses remain
shrouded in mystery, however, and one of the most puzzling
mysteries concerns the source of their rapid growth. For while
profits have been low or nonexistent for many years, new capital
has continued to surge into the conglomerate, analysts said.
In the United States, many analysts have assumed that funds
for the church's money-losing operations, such as the Washington
Times newspaper, have been funneled from South Korea. But
analysts in South Korea, where the church has invested vast sums
in money-losing enterprises, have made the same assumption, in
reverse. "Where is the money coming from?" one stock analyst
asked. "Nobody knows."
"It's a mystery on the stock exchange," agreed Kim Goon Ho, an
analyst at Coryo Research Institute. "Tong Il's future is bright,
because the prospects for the auto parts and machine industries
in Korea are bright. But the source of capital is a mystery."
Some analysts, such as former church member Lee Dae Bock,
believe that much of the money comes from profits generated by
church-related businesses in Japan. In particular, marble vases
and religious objects produced by the Il Shin Co. in Korea are
sold at high profit in Japan, Lee said.
The Japanese Federation of Bar Associations supported that
claim in a report this month that accused businesses connected to
the Unification Church of using unfair pressure tactics to sell
such supposedly supernatural objects at extremely high prices.
The lawyers' group condemned what it called an "unprecedented
victimization of consumers."
A spokesman for the church in Tokyo, Hiroshi Sakazume, said
the church has no connection to the sales businesses, adding that
"worshipers have the freedom to choose their own occupation."
"We presume the existence of satans standing behind the
Japanese Federation of Bar Associations," Sakazume said.
After rapid growth in the past several years, the conglomerate
- known as a chaebol in Korean - plans to invest an additional
200 billion won ($264 million) for growth and modernization
during the next three years, according to a recent analysis in
Business Korea magazine. This investment comes despite a
reported net profit of less than $10 million in 1986 and net
losses in prior years, according to a report by the Management
Efficiency Research Institute.
"The biggest puzzle for local businessmen and the general
public was the seemingly unending source of such huge sums of
money," Business Korea reported.
Church and company executives declined repeated requests for
interviews, although one official agreed to answer selected
written questions on condition he not be named. This account is
based on those answers and on company publications and interviews
with Korean businessmen, investment analysts, journalists and
former church officials.
Church spokesman Sakazume, in Tokyo, also provided the
following statement in written Japanese when asked for comment by
The Washington Post:
"We have nothing to do with any kind of business, because the
church is not engaged in profit making of any kind. Worshipers
have the freedom to choose their occupation. There are some
left-wing people in the Japan Federation of Bar Associations who
deny the existence of God.
"We deeply regret that for their own reasons they persecute
religions and infringe on the freedom of religion which is
guaranteed by our constitution, using the mass media, such as the
Asahi Shimbun (newspaper), as a tool. We want to arouse media
people's attention not to be used by them. We presume the
existence of satans standing behind the Japan Federation of Bar
Moon founded the Unification Church in Korea more than 30
years ago. Although about one-fourth of South Korea's 42 million
people are Christian, the church has had limited success in
recruiting followers here, with outside observers estimating
membership at about 20,000 and the church claiming 400,000.
Nonetheless, the church presence here has been considerable,
and controversial. Its strongly anticommunist philosophy
encouraged close working relations with the authoritarian and
military regimes that ruled South Korea for much of the past
three decades, and government aid has been instrumental in the
church's business growth, according to former officials.
The church prospered especially under the late president Park
Chung Hee, who ran South Korea from 1961 until his internal
security chief assassinated him in 1979. The Park regime
designated Tong Il as a weapons manufacturer, protected its auto
parts business and worked closely with church anticommunist
Lee Dae Bock, for example, who served as a church official for
20 years, was secretary general of the Seoul chapter of the
Federation for Victory over Communism when he resigned in 1983.
He said the church maintained close ties with South Korea's
omnipresent internal security forces through such organizations.
The Koreagate investigation in Congress in 1977 and 1978
unearthed a CIA memo that linked the formation of the Unification
Church to Kim Jong Pil, first director of the Korean CIA and now
an opposition party leader in Seoul. Kim denied any links to the
church in a recent interview.
Jonathan Park, the son of Bo Hi Pak, Moon's top deputy and a
key official in church-affiliated businesses in the United
States, said in a recent interview that there was no financial
connection between church companies and the South Korean
government. "I am 100 percent confident there is no government
financial support or contribution," Park said. "And as far as I
know, there never has been."
The Koreagate investigation, which focused on Korean
influence-peddling in the United States, also prompted the regime
to distance itself from Moon's church, as did criticism from
mainstream Christian churches. The government of president Chun
Doo Hwan, who ruled from 1980 until last month, was "very careful
not to come too close, but also careful not to stray too far,"
according to Yu Jae Gol, a journalist who investigated the
church's financial empire for the respected Shin Dong-A monthly
Tahk Myeong Whan, a preacher who is Moon's most persistent
critic here, said the church continues to enjoy close ties with
police. Tahk has tracked the church and other groups he calls
cults for more than 20 years through his International Religious
Tahk said he has survived booby-trap bombs set in his car and
other attacks, most recently when dozens of young men interrupted
a lecture he was giving and beat him, breaking his leg.
Certainly, government aid was instrumental in Tong Il's early
growth, according to former officials and company documents.
Moon's first business venture was the Yeohwa Shotgun and Air
Rifle Co., established in December 1979 to produce and sell
Lee Dae Bock, who eventually concluded that the church was "a
money-making business posing as a religion," said that sales
languished until Moon himself took charge of the business.
"He ordered all leaders and congregations to sell rifles," Lee
said. "He allocated quotas. . . . The basic method of making
money was to exploit the labor of congregations."
Business improved further in the mid-1960s when the company
won a government contract to produce mock wooden rifles for high
school and university military training, Lee said. In 1968, the
company changed its name to Tong Il, which means unification.
Four years later, the government designated Tong Il as an
official producer of transmissions and axles, according to
company documents, probably for military vehicles as well as for
heavy trucks and buses. The company also won a government
license to make firearms that same year, Yu said.
Since then, Tong Il has grown into "the recognized ROK
(Republic of Korea) leader for small and medium caliber gun and
cannon barrels," according to one company catalog. Products
include Vulcan antiaircraft guns, heavy machine guns and grenade
Chae Hee Pyung, a Tong Il official, said at a conference last
fall that military business, including a technology link with
Rockwell International, accounts for more than 30 percent of the
Like the other companies in the conglomerate, Tong Il does not
advertise its connection to the Unification Church. But the
president of Tong Il is Moon Sung Kyun, described by Yu Jae Gol
as a distant relative of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
And, according to stock market documents, the publicly traded
company is 32 percent owned by the Tong Il Religion Support
Foundation, which is headed by another relative, Moon Seung Yong.
Yu said the church uses the foundation to control its entire
A senior official of the Washington Times said that during a
visit to the Tong Il plant several years ago, he and other
executives were told by a company official that Tong Il provided
direct financial support for the newspaper. "I was told that
company provided $25 million of the subsidy we get," said the
official, who asked not to be identified.
Moon's overall organization has invested more than $200
million in the Washington Times and related publications, such as
Insight magazine, since the paper was founded in 1982, according
to Times executives. The paper's subsidy last year was $35
million, these executives said.
The Tong Il company was built on the labor of church members,
Lee said. "They never paid them, up until 1975," he said. "After
'75, they started paying low wages."
Church members would frequently live in company dormitories,
rising at 5 a.m. to pray before photographs of "the Real Father
and Real Mother," Lee and Tahk said, meaning Moon and his wife.
Non-church members came under strong pressure to convert.
In recent years, however, Tong Il has recruited more
non-church members with technological skills and military
backgrounds, a company official said. The official said that
only 5 percent of the work force now belongs to the church.
Last summer, Tong Il endured two months of damaging strikes at
its factories on the southern coast. One issue, Lee said, was
non-church members' complaints about discrimination in
promotions, a charge the company official denied.
"My judgment is that they had more-than-average damage from
labor disputes last year," stock analyst Kim Goon Ho said. The
strikes have accelerated automation plans, according to the
Moon's best-known company in South Korea is not Tong-Il, but
its affiliate, Il Hwa Co., meaning "One Peace." Il Hwa, with
2,500 employees, is the nation's largest exporter of ginseng, a
native root said to have health-enhancing properties, and
recently moved successfully out of the health foods market with
the soft drink McCol.
Il Hwa is not listed on the stock market and is believed to be
owned entirely by the church and its foundation. Its sales
increased from $51 million in 1985 to $69 million in 1986 to an
estimated $132 million last year, according to the Management
Efficiency Research Institute.
"The ultimate goal of Il Hwa is to enhance the health and
happiness of all mankind," the company said.
The church foundation also owns 44.5 percent of the Il Shin
Co. (meaning One Belief), which makes decorative pagodas and
religious objects out of stone and marble. The company sells
most of the objects in Japan, where its hard-sell tactics -
warning of disaster if pagodas are not purchased - and markups of
1,000 percent or more have brought criticism from some consumer
Recently, the company has diversified into production of
building materials for domestic use.
A fourth company, Hankook Titanium, is 26.1 percent owned by
the church foundation and 24 percent owned by a related
foundation in Japan, according to stock records. The company,
which recently benefited from a government decision to bar DuPont
from building a similar plant in South Korea, makes materials
used in paint and other industrial products.
Tahk said that Moon controls more than 50 firms altogether,
while Business Korea identified 23 such firms. Their interests
range from fishing to construction, trading, water bottling,
brickmaking, jewelry handicrafts, machinery sales and printing
and publishing. The church recently applied for permission to
publish a daily newspaper in Seoul, according to the Korean
In addition, the church is a major holder of real estate. On
one of the most valuable plots of land in Seoul - a $200 million
lot near the National Assembly - the church has unsuccessfully
sought government permission for a 100-story skyscraper.
Staff reporter Michael Isikoff contributed to this report.