▲ Atsuko Kumon Hong on fire in the lobby of the Cheongshim Village building in August 2013.
The Korean leadership of the Moon church make many demands on the Japanese members for money and further recruitment. Leaders like Reverend Masahiro Ono were under great pressure to fulfill a never-ending stream of goals by fixed dates. Reverend Ono was apparently asked to return donations to Atsuko Hong’s spiritual child. At the same time he was trying to collect money for the Moon church of Korea.
More Japanese women join than men. This results in international marriages. Many Japanese women are married to Koreans. The Korean members, and sometimes their families who may not even be Moon church members, can make demands on the Japanese wives, who may be reminded of all the ‘crimes’ that the Japanese committed against the Koreans during their 40 year occupation (1905-1945).
Japanese wives who face difficulties frequently do not feel supported by ministers in the Moon church of Korea. They are told they have to pay indemnity for Japan’s past, or for their own sinful lineage.
Being a Japanese leader, as was Reverend Ono, or a Japanese wife with a Korean husband, such as Atsuko Hong can be challenging.
At the time one of Atsuko Kumon Hong’s friends, Linda Feher, said: “I couldn’t believe that the official story the Unification Church [in America] used to report the burning only referred to her by her maiden name, Kumon. No one in America knows Atsuko by her maiden name. If they only refer to her as Atsuko Kumon no one in America will think they know her. The name people know is Atsuko Hong.”
• “Atsuko was a very shy, sensitive private person”
• joined CARP at Hiroshima University in Japan
Linda Feher: “John Paul Hong [Hong Jong-Pyo], was the Korean leader in Clifton NJ, when I lived there. Many was the time Reverend Hong told the story of how he got matched to Atsuko. He was clearly struggling with the match! He said that Father had her photo in his hand. Father pointed indiscriminately at the Korean men sitting at his feet while holding Atsuko’s photo for them to see. The Korean men started to look to each other asking quietly… “Me?” “You?” then Father let her photo go and it landed on John Paul Hong. He was NOT happy about his fate!”
• married in the 6500 couples of October 30, 1988
• the Hong family moved to the US (Washington and New Jersey)
• Atsuko did not speak much English
• Atsuko was often absent from home and traveled between Korea, Japan and the US.
Linda Feher: “John Paul Hong had several children with his blessed wife, Atsuko. But he never loved her and they eventually got divorced. She suffered because she was given, by Moon, to a man who did not want her. She suffered tremendously before the issue of her spiritual son’s money was ever an issue.”
• Apparently her husband got custody of the children
• Atsuko did not see / was not able to see her children
• Atsuko left the US and was a resident of Korea at the time of the attack.
• Her ex-husband lives in the US
• After the divorce she found herself “disenfranchised” from the Moon church in Japan.
• She was not included in the list of participants at the memorial event.
▲ Cheongshim Village ‘Silvertown’, Cheongpyeong, where the incident happened.
• They were in the lobby of the building known as Cheongshim Village, Silvertown, [a retirement home] to check in. Address: Songsan-ri, Seolak-myeon, Gapyeong-gu, Gyeonggi Province. The facility is owned by the Unification Church.
• She had travelled there with Reverend Masahiro Ono, the Japanese Church leader of the Hyogo region headquartered in Kobe.
• Tim Elder: “Controversy over a Japanese member’s request for the church to refund a donation led to a vicious attack Thursday that so far has two members fighting for their lives.”
The fire was the day before a memorial service for Sun Myung Moon was to be held in a nearby stadium. Although Moon died on September 3, 2012, his followers observed its anniversary in 2013 on August 23 according to the lunar calendar. Moon was 92 when he died, and had 16 known children. He was buried behind a $1billion palace overlooking the sprawling complex.
▲ Sun Myung Moon’s coffin is carried at his September 2012 funeral.
August 22, 2013 at 3:26pm. fire at Cheongshim Village.
Report: “Atsuko Kumon Hong doused Reverend Masahiro Ono and herself with flammable liquid, paint thinner, from a five-liter container. She then set fire to the liquid using a cigarette lighter. A third person, a 57 year-old woman, was also splashed with the liquid and caught fire when she fell down as she tried to get away. The three who caught fire panicked and ran out of the building, away from the water coming from the sprinkler system. Fire extinguishers had to be used to put out the fires on their bodies. Witnesses said this took about five minutes.”
The fire set off the sprinkler system in the lobby, preventing the fire from spreading to others or to the building itself.
The three were transported initially to Cheongshim Hospital, where Atsuko Kumon Hong and Reverend Ono were found to be in critical condition with third degree burns over much of their bodies. The two were transferred to the Hallym University Medical Center in Seoul for specialized treatment. The third victim remained in Cheongshim Hospital, because her injury (second-degree burns) was not as severe.
When Atsuko arrived at the hospital, she told the staff, “I have no money. I did it because I don’t want to live. Why am I at a hospital? I didn’t come here, someone brought me here.”
• September 6: Two visitors who came to see Atsuko Kumon Hong and Masahiro Ono were thrown out of the hospital by a Japanese Moon church member in charge of security.
• Tim Elder: “My efforts to follow up on Atsuko’s condition seem to have hit a brick wall. People in positions to have direct knowledge who were helpful until recently are suddenly no longer helpful. One such person said: “I can’t say anything. I’ve been told not to.” I worry that our sister’s situation may have changed.”
• Atsuko Kumon Hong died on September 12 (aged 53)
• This news was withheld by the Moon church of Korea.
• Rev Ono’s wife was with him in the hospital.
The UC of Korea made this official announcement:
“Japanese Church Regional leader Masahiro Ono (6500 couples), who suffered a burn injury, received a number of operations and his condition was improving, but the injury from his burn deteriorated and he passed into spirit world from blood poisoning at 5:07 pm on September 20, 2013, by the solar calendar. He was 54.”
• Reverend Ono’s death was announced within hours
Timothy Elder: “Reverend Ono passed into spirit world at 5:07pm, Friday [20th], at the Hallym University Medical Center in Seoul. I am at the hospital now, I offered my greeting to Reverend Ono in the mortuary section of the hospital. Korean church officials are arranging the customary seonghwa ceremonies. Reverend Ono’s passing came as a surprise to me. I had heard he was making progress. I learned today his condition began to deteriorate on Thursday.”
• The Japanese woman (aged 57) who was accidentally caught in the fire returned to Japan.
• details of Atsuko’s funeral are unknown
The UC of Japan made this official announcement:
“Yesterday, September 26 (Thursday), a Seonghwa Ceremony (Gobyeol Shik) was held for Regional Leader Masahiro Ono at the Shinjuku church [in Tokyo]. It was attended by some 450 people, including people affiliated with Headquarters and church leaders. Please refer to the official Unification Church web site for details.”
• October 2, Korean news report gives some further details, some come from an investigation conducted by the local police. LINK
Tim Elder: “Information on Atsuko Kumon [Hong]’s motive in the attack is sketchy, but it appears related to her efforts to help another member, her spiritual child, secure a refund of a 20-million-yen donation made sometime previously to the Hyogo region of the Japanese church, where Mr. Ono serves as regional leader. Sources within the church told blogger Kazuhiro Yonemoto that an agreement was made with the spiritual child to make the refund in installments, and that about 1.5 million yen had been paid out. This, however, appears not to have satisfied the spiritual child or Atsuko Kumon [Hong]. She appears to have traveled to Cheongpyeong for the purpose of confronting Mr. Ono about the donation refund.”
Police are investigating whether the sister had some personal issue with the minister, or if the incident was somehow related to the commemoration of Reverend Moon’s passing. Police say they have not confirmed that the sister has a history of mental illness. “The thing about mental illness is something the Unification Church is saying,” one police official said.
Tim Elder: “Kazuhiro Yonemoto is a Japanese journalist who writes about the Unification Church. At times, he has written sympathetically enough to be ostracized by the journalism community in Japan. At other times, he writes so truthfully as to make Moon church leaders and members squirm. I’ve known about him by reputation for about four years. He doesn’t always get it exactly right, but he seems to be a credible writer. … Yonemoto adds his opinion that this incident appears to have resulted from the lack of proper communication channels within the Japanese UC. In particular, he says Japanese UC members lack horizontal communication lines – where they can go to a friend or colleague and talk about problems.
He also gives the opinion that donations are the weak point of the Japanese UC. He says that UC leaders need to deal with refund requests with greater sincerity and realize that a member requesting a refund is always in the weaker position and will always have strong feelings of insecurity.”
Tim Elder: “The [Moon church owned] Segye Times said the incident ‘appears to be an accidental incident’. It gives no explanation, though, on how the sister ‘accidentally’ happened to have a container of flammable liquid with her.”
Tim Elder: “I expect the ramifications of this incident to be most serious in Japan. Japan’s government made a serious attempt to close the church in 2008 and 2009. This incident may be the spark they need to try again.”
It was very difficult to get any information on this tragic story at the time. The Moon church worldwide was trying to stop any unfavorable information from getting out. Tim Elder was a valuable source of information which was appreciated. He evidently felt that the story should be made public and made an effort to get it out. Because of his position, and where he lived, there were certain constraints on what he could do, but he seems to have shared as much as he felt he could at the time, out of his genuine concern for ALL of those caught up in the tragedy.
▲ 天福宮 Cheon Jeong Gung Palace at Cheongpyeong which cost $1billion to build.
Two members who visited Atsuko Hong in hospital were kicked out by the Moon church
The testimony of one Japanese sister:
“With the desire to help [Atsuko] I visited [her] on September 6…”
“I wanted to help her, even if it was by raising funds. I phoned the hospital [where Atsuko was being treated] and asked if it was possible to visit her. The nurse explained that it would be fine, if it was within the visiting times. On September 6, I went to see her in intensive care during visiting times.
When I was waiting in the intensive care visitor’s waiting room, by chance I met another member I knew. She was a member from the Heavenly Palace 天福宮 [Cheon Jeong Gung Palace at Cheongpyeong]. We decided to go into intensive care together.
The lady member [Atsuko] was lying in bed sleeping. Her whole body was wrapped in bandages.
The church leader was in the next bed. His upper body was bandaged. Although his eyes were open he seemed to stare at nothing and seemed to not know what was happening.
Then suddenly a Japanese Church female member grabbed my arm from behind. She said, “Who are you? You cannot visit without my permission. Please go out.” She was showing us the door and pulling me by the arm out of intensive care. The member from the palace at Cheongpyeong said, “I came to pray. I came from the Heavenly Palace,” but the Japanese lady member just said, “Please go out. Who are you? Which church are you affiliated with? I represent both the Church of Japan and the Korea Church. I am in charge. Please write your names here on this roster sheet,” She spoke loudly as she thrust the roster sheet at us. She caused a commotion in the hospital room.We reluctantly decided to leave the intensive care unit because we did not want to become a nuisance to the other patients.
We went to the waiting room. I tried to say, “I came because I wanted to know how she was, and, as a member, if there was something that I could do to help.” But the Japanese female member will not listen at all. She loudly demanded “Please write your name and your church membership. I will take a picture of you. Chairman Y told me to do that, and I will tell Chairman Y what happened.”
I tried several times to explain to her why I came to visit, but she didn’t listen at all.
Other patients become annoyed at all the loud commotion in the waiting room. The nurse told us many times, “Please be quiet.” Eventually I decided, without completing my explanation, to get out of the waiting room so we did not become a nuisance to the other patients.
We were chased out into the hallway. The female member from the Heavenly Palace was sat on a chair and weeping. She said, “I just came to see if she is going to survive or not… Why?… and I just tried to pray…”.
I was stunned by this situation. I didn’t know what to do. It seemed totally incomprehensible.
When I heard this story about the two members who went to visit following the August 22 incident, I was very surprised.
In Korea the above report was shared to the internet community.
Following that the Korea Association [of the Unification Church] made an announcement called ‘Notice from the Association’ in which they said, “There are some people who like to use sad stories of members who were at the crossroads of life and death to meet their own political purposes. These people distort the background information and tell the story in an exaggerated manner.”
To me, it does not seem that the members who visited were politically motivated.
Sun Myung Moon:
“As you know, our Japanese Church has been selling their houses and all their assets to support our activities in America. If you’re not sure about it, go and visit Japan and see for yourself. By the same token, if our American members, all of you, are willing to sell your houses and assets in order to save South America, and contribute the money to help the poor people there, then the unification between North America and South America will naturally take place.”
December 22, 1994 – The Leaders’ Meeting at East Garden
Translator – Peter Kim
This has been edited from Linda Feher’s original submission:
Atsuko Kumon Hong and her children were victims of Moon’s loveless legacy.
I know countless members who have suffered beyond reason because of the matching ‘choice’ Moon made for them.
… Moon took God’s place in the three blessings. He took all three blessings away from every member.
See Atsuko burn. The flames are real. How deeply must she have been hurting in her mind and in her heart that the burning of her body was the lesser of the pains she was in?
This is Moon’s legacy. This is the result of the Moon family’s love of money over the lives of people. This is how deeply Rev Moon hated the Japanese. It is how deeply he taught his own children to hate and use the Japanese members causing them untold suffering.
First the Moons bleed the Japanese to death financially and then they discard them as losers when they are “burned out” and cannot produce any more wealth for them.
When the Japanese find that they are destitute after giving everything they have to the Moon dynasty where do they go, who takes care of them?
Does anyone know?
Does anyone care?
If the Japanese dare to ask for any of the monies they have “donated” to be given back to them, as is the case with Atsuko Hong, who was asking that the money her spiritual child donated to the church be given back, they are stone walled until they stop seeking to get back what they gave.
For the Moons the money only flows one way.
The Moons are nothing more than a spiritual vacuum siphoning off the wealth of their believers. That’s their legacy.
Atsuko Hong is just the tip of the iceberg of pain that is the Moon legacy.
Ask yourself what it took to drive her to this.
Suicide of Sun Myung Moon money mule in Uruguay
Japanese woman recruited and sold by the Moon church to a Korean farmer
Why did a Japanese Moon church member kill her Korean husband?
Moon extracted $500 million from Japanese female members
6,500 women missing from Moon church mass weddings
The Moon church of Japan used members for profit, not religious purposes
Human trafficking of Flipinas by the Moon church of Sun Myung Moon is despicable
“Sell your house if you love Japan” – members squeezed dry just after March 2011 disaster.