Sam Park at ICSA – July 2014 video transcript
ICSA – International Cultic Studies Association
Please note: All Korean names in this document follow the Korean convention of family name first, except for the names of Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han because that is how they are most known in the west.
“There are some articles already written about me, I don’t know if anybody has read them, by a journalist named Mariah Blake. They appeared in ‘The New Republic’ and ‘Mother Jones’. [see links below] So some of this might be old, but there is still new information that wasn’t published in those articles. Hopefully you will find that interesting as well.
Because this is my first time – I am a newbie at this – I thought it wise to read because I have a lot of ground to cover and if I don’t, if I eat into all of your time [gesturing to Donna Orme-Collins who was sitting next to him]. She would not like that.”
Donna: “No, that’s right.”
Sam: “No, I don’t want that to happen. … [laughter]
This is where I want to start. Let’s see how it goes.
I am the secret son (or “Love Child” as depicted in a recent article) of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, billionaire founder of the Unification Church and proclaimed Messiah of all mankind. My mother, Choi Soon-W., was a scion of the powerful and billionaire Choi family, they were the former owners of Korea Life Insurance, the second largest insurance company in Korea, known for its iconic 63-story gold headquarters in Seoul, still the largest gold cladded structure in the world.
I was born into a world of great wealth, fanaticism and hypocrisy. My life reads like a Korean soap opera filled with money, sex, power, and intrigue. I witnessed firsthand how power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I’ve seen how the road to hell is paved with good intentions albeit one warped by a fanatical sense of righteousness where the ends always justify the means. Lastly, I understand the psychology of rejection and secrecy for the circumstances surrounding my birth condemned me—for a large majority of my life—to a life lived in the shadows.
I hold a B.A. in History with a minor interest in Philosophy and Psychology from George Washington University and completed my MBA course-work in Finance from the same university. For the past decade, I’ve been involved in litigation, in one form or another, originating from a 1999 Confidentiality Agreement with my father and the Unification Church movement.
Like my mother, I was once conditioned to believe that my father, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, was the Messiah of all mankind. But unlike my mother, who was brought into the Unification Church by her mother (my grandmother), I was born into it. I did not undergo a “conversion experience” nor did I have to renounce family members or give up a former way of life. The Church was my way of life but I sensed that there was something different about me. That ‘difference’ revealed itself when I discovered at the age of around 12, early 13, that my biological parents were, in fact, Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Choi Soon-W. The people who I thought were my parents and siblings (Pak Bo Hi and his wife, Yoon Ki Sook and their children) were ordered by Rev. Moon to raise me from birth and keep the identity of my real parents a secret. It was this coerced deception and many unfulfilled promises made by my father to my mother, which are at the heart of our litigation with the Unification Church movement.
My mother’s involvement with Rev. Moon started in 1953 when, at the age of 17 years old, he forced himself upon her and took her virginity. At the time [pause] my father said that because my mother was destined to be his eternal bride or the “True Mother” in UC parlance, he had to have sexual relations with her to reverse what the … Forgive me because I am going to bring up FFWPU / UC / Moonie terms. Some of you might know them if you follow the church, but a lot of you won’t – just indulge me because there are a lot of Unificationists out there who may see this and it will probably help them.
My father said to my mother that – he basically raped her – that he had to have sexual relations with her to reverse what the Archangel Lucifer did to the young Eve. Rev. Moon taught that the biblical Eve was seduced by the Archangel Lucifer when she was 17 years old which was the real reason for the Fall of Man as described in the Bible. That is how Moonies think about the Fall of Man.
One cannot understand the context of our involvement with my father and the Unification Church movement without first becoming aware of the central role my mother’s family (the Choi family) played from the inception of his nascent spiritual movement. For both Moonie and non-Moonie alike, the implications of this “hidden history” of the Choi family are compelling and significant.
When my father first met my grandmother in 1953, he knew from her name that she was going to be a very important person to him. Her name was Lee Duk-sam and that literally translates into “attaining the three” which is quite an odd name even by Korean standards. But to any Moonie, her name was significant because it represents the central mandate of the Divine Principle (the Unification Church belief system) which was the three blessings depicted in Genesis 1:28, which is to be fruitful, multiply, and to have dominion over creation.
Owing to the Choi family affluence, my grandmother was the primary financial backer of the nascent UC movement donating several million dollars throughout the 50s and 60s. In fact, there probably wasn’t a soul who wasn’t helped by grandmother in the early church days which is the reason why she was such a beloved figure within the UC. Counting in today’s dollars, a million dollars from the mid 1950’s would equate to approximately $8.5 million dollars today. In addition to selling her million dollar mansion in the early 50’s and donating the proceeds to the Church, she continually donated significant amounts over the decades up even up to her passing in 1973.
▲ Choi Seong-mo 崔聖模 1909-1976 Obituary
My grandfather, Choi Seong-mo, was a substantial businessman in his era. He was a self-made millionaire by 26 (back when a million dollars really meant something) and despite making and losing a fortune three times, by the early 1950’s when my grandmother joined the Unification Church, he had firmly laid the foundation for the Shin-Dong-Ah group (which was the Choi family owned conglomerate) to grow into the multibillion-dollar enterprise it became. As my grandfather’s business expanded, his influence reached into the corridors of power in Seoul, Korea. On many occasions, he was sent at the personal request of the then President, at that time, Park Chung Hee to lead trade negotiations with the US in Washington, D.C. During the Park Chung Hee years, he had a direct phone line to the Blue House, a hotline as they call it, and was head of the organization akin to the council of economic advisors in the U.S., and he closely advised the President on economic policy.
My grandfather built an elite business group and became the second richest man in Korea, as judged by tax payments, behind Lee Byung Chul, the founder of the Samsung Group, who was a close personal friend of his. It’s kind of ironic but when they, the wealthiest men in Korea, met for lunch, they would mostly end up talking about their family and kids, and not business. In some ways, this epitomized the type of man my grandfather was. Despite all his success and power, what really mattered to him the most was the well-being of his children and employees. At heart, he was a humble and noble man and was considered to be the most ethical businessman of his generation, and that is a fact my mother and I are most proud of – especially being Korean with corruption as it was, and basically still is today.
Given the family’s standing, it’s easy to see why my father was transfixed on gaining the support of the Chois. With my grandfather’s support, the corridors of power [i.e. the Blue House] and finance would have been wide open to his nascent movement. There is no telling how high he might have risen with the right backing. For my father, the Chois were the jewel in the crown for the fulfillment of his Messianic vision. To non-Moonies the following is nonsensical so again bare with me, but my father told my mother repeatedly that God was trying to “consummate” all of human history through the Choi family. He believed that my grandfather stood in the historical archangel position, my two uncles (my mother’s younger brothers) stood in the historical Cain and Abel position and my mother and her older sister (who both joined the Church soon after my grandmother joined in 1953) stood in the historical Leah and Rachel position.
My father believed he had to model the life of the biblical Jacob by marrying two blood sisters and have 12 sons with the sisters and their handmaidens. Like Jacob, my father planned to first marry the older sister (my aunt) in 1960 and then seven years later, divorce her and then marry the younger more favored sister, who was my mother. In the years leading up to 1960, most everyone in the church knew about my father’s marital plans to marry both my aunt and my mother, and acknowledged my mother as the future “True Mother” of the Unification Church. According to my father, if he was going to get his mission right, he needed to get these crucial relationships within the Choi family right, by modeling what the Biblical Jacob did.
Unfortunately, due to my father’s over active libido, which resulted in several unintended pregnancies with other women, my aunt’s faith in my father eroded and culminated in her leaving the Unification Church soon after her official engagement to him in late 1959. All this stuff hardly anyone else knows. This is the hidden history which, for good reason, they have tried to keep quiet, because it completely … it’s anathema and it contradicts what they have been teaching the people from 1960. After my aunt broke off their engagement, my father went into a tailspin. A relationship that he cultivated over seven years, which was central to his mission, simply evaporated. Rather than acknowledging his own responsibility, he blamed my aunt and the Chois for failing him which is the typical Rev. Moon modus operandi of passing the buck and blaming everyone else except himself. However, he had a dilemma, he had to keep to the “heavenly schedule” and be married in the spring of 1960, when he was 40 years old. Moonies believe the number 40 holds significant cosmic importance, so he needed to quickly find a bride in a short period of time, about four months.
Talk about a rebound situation. That’s basically what happened when he chose Hak Ja Han, the current Mrs. Moon, to be his wife. Since he felt rejected by the Chois, due to what he believed was my aunt’s betrayal which he took as a personal affront to his authority and wishes, he ended up choosing Hak Ja Han, the current Mrs. Moon. The only criterion he gave to finding his new bride was that she be a “nobody” and a girl where parental approval was unnecessary. As a teenager, Hak Ja Han was smart, hard-working and pretty, but unfortunately for her, she had a mother who was both ignorant and unkind. In many ways, Hak Ja Han was a victim of circumstance, since she was the illegitimate product of an affair between her single mother and a married man with whom she attended the same sex cult prior to her joining the UC, where she ended up working in the kitchen as a maid. Since Hak Ja Han’s biological father didn’t claim her as his daughter, parental approval was never an issue.
Fast forward to 1964 and things are not going well for my father and his grandiose plans for world domination. Four years after the holy wedding in 1960 of the Messiah, my father, and his perfect bride Hak Ja Han occurred and the world barely took notice. One has to understand the general belief of the membership in 1960 in the Unification Church. Moonies at that time, they actually believed and thought that once my father was married to Hak Ja Han, the heavens would open up and the world would miraculously bow down and recognize him as the Messiah, and his wife as True Mother of all mankind, which is a symptom of magical thinking that tends to go on in cults. The reality, however, was a major let down. Ye Jin, their eldest child, who was initially proclaimed to be the “heavenly prince,” ended up being a girl. [Next Hyo Jin was born in 1962.] Hae Jin, the third child, died soon after her birth. The membership growth was stagnant and the church still struggled financially. This was in stark contrast to my grandfather, whose wealth and influence continued to expand and prosper during that period. My father concluded that he had made a mistake by marrying Hak Ja Han, and he needed to course correct and go back to the original plan with the Chois (or what he called the “Choi family Providence”).
My mother’s decision to go to the US in the spring of 1964 to pursue her graduate studies at Georgetown University prompted my father to act on his plan. Essentially, my mother wanted to get away from my father in Seoul, Korea, and give Mrs. Moon some breathing room. Understand that ever since Hak Ja Han married my father in 1960, Hak Ja Han and her mother were very uncomfortable because everyone in the church knew Hak Ja Han was occupying a position never intended for her. This is the reason why Hak Ja Han’s mother encouraged her to have as many sons as possible with my father, because she knew that with each additional son, her daughter’s control over my father would tighten.
Nevertheless, my father had made up his mind and in order to nail down his plan and not lose my mother, he married her in 1964 in a private UC sanctioned ceremony in his headquarters at the Chongpadong Church in Seoul, Korea.
▲ Sun Myung Moon and Choi Soon-wha / Annie Choi in about 1964. This photo was taken around the time of their private wedding. Hak Ja Han is wearing a maroon coat and is holding Hyo Jin. Ye Jin is standing in front of her father. All these Korean members knew about Sun Myung Moon’s secret activities.
Understand what was at stake for my father. He feared that if she left for America he might lose her, and with that the potential access to the Choi family wealth. Also, losing my mother would present him with an existential crisis since the only thing protecting him and the church from my grandfather’s retribution was my mother’s loyalty and devotion to him and the church. And most importantly, by marrying my mother and conceiving children through her, he would be successful in modeling Jacob’s life or Jacob’s Course, as the Moonies call it, and that was probably the most important mandate for him according to the Divine Principle. It has morphed since then, the Divine Principle today is quite different from what it was in the earlier days. They had to adjust it and tweak it to fit the facts that happened after he married the current Mrs. Moon.
▲ Rev Moon and Choi Soon-wha / Annie Choi in Washington, DC, in 1965. She is standing next to Rev. Moon, wearing a white coat and a lilac scarf. Sam Park was conceived around this time in the house of Pak Bo Hi (who is standing on the right) and Mrs Pak (standing on the left).
On the heels of my mother’s arrival to the US, my father soon followed her to the US in 1965. My mother came to the US in 1964, and my father came in 1965. He said that he was basically “risking everything” (those were my father’s own words) to make [her pregnant with] me. His sole purpose was to come and impregnate my mother. He didn’t want to lose her. It was only after he got confirmation of her pregnancy that he left her side. He stayed [in the US] for about three months in 1965 [and then continued his world tour, flying to Canada on July 1st]. I was born the following year in January 1966, and the rest is history.
▲ Rev. Moon, holding Hyo-jin’s hand, returns to Korea on October 10, 1965 after his first world tour. Lee Duk-sam, at the back of the photo, is carrying baby In-Jin. Hee-jin is walking behind his father. Ye Jin is walking between Hak Ja Han and Choi won-pok. Rev. Moon left a pregnant Annie Choi in the US. In 1965, he had two women pregnant at the same time. The date he returned to Korea, 10.10, held magical significance for him.
The truth of the matter was that by the time I was born, Mrs. Moon told my grandmother [Lee Duk-sam] she was prepared to step aside and vacate her position as his wife and “True Mother” in favor of my mother, since my father made his intentions very clear that he was to going back to the Choi family Providence, because he made me. And yet it was my mother’s compassion that prevented him from following through with the plan to remove Hak Ja Han and to allow my mother to assume her rightful position as “True Mother” in UC parlance. My mother wanted to believe in Hak Ja Han’s potential, and as a woman and she didn’t have the heart to displace Hak Ja Han and her four young children. The reason is she had to give me up after I was born. She understood that. In hindsight, if my mother knew then what she knows now, she would’ve taken a far different approach. After I was born, my father wanted to have more children with my mother but she refused because she couldn’t bare the heartbreak of having additional children taken from her and raised by another family in order to keep things a secret from my grandfather [Choi Seong-mo] and the world.
What I have just explained is the real hidden history of the UC. It’s taken a long time for me to reach this podium in order to set the historical record straight but I am relieved this day has finally come since I no longer am burdened with this secret. Given the implications for the UC and the legitimacy of Mrs. Moon as the “True Mother” of the UC and her offspring as the “True Children” or legitimate heirs according to the Divine Principle, it’s easy to see why the UC movement has wanted to keep this information under wraps, and why they have gone to extreme legal lengths to try and maintain secrecy. To argue that my mother is the rightful “True Mother” of the UC is not difficult since Mrs. Moon herself had already done so when she was prepared to vacate her position to my mother in the 1966/1967 time frame. But with the passage of time cocooned in a sycophantic world of great wealth, privileged and absolute power, it’s easy to see how Hak Ja Han lost touch with the conscientiousness of her youth. Add to this, the sad reality of her own upbringing by her mother and it is easy to see how Hak Ja Han never developed the proper skills to raise her own children, who mostly rebuke her today. To argue the merits of my claim as the “rightful heir” to the UC movement is pretty simple when you look at the context and timing of my birth. If Hak Ja Han was the destined True Mother of the UC movement, why did my father step outside of that “sacred and holy” marriage and create me? And why did he tell my mother at the time that he was “risking everything” to do so. Well in my book, that makes me a pretty important cosmic dude, in the UC sense of course, and is one of the reasons why some of my half siblings either hate or are indifferent towards me. This is fine by me since due to the Moon family abuse cycles and their tendency towards narcissistic personality disorder, which is transferred from parent to child, and their delusional absolute thinking (i.e. believing they are special and therefore can mistreat members and other people). This type of thinking and behavior is something I do not share with them.
Now please don’t get me wrong here. I am not campaigning to be the next messiah, or something of that ilk [Laughter], because frankly I am not interested [Laughter], nor am I afflicted with the need to feel special or superior at the expense of others.”
Donna: “Well, that is just what he is saying.” [Laughter] …
Donna: “Come on, that is what he is saying. He thinks he is more special than his father.”
Sam: “You’re cuter, come on.”
Donna: “Ah well, that is debatable.”
Sam: “OK, there you go. OK.”
Sam: “I am woefully aware of my limitations and wise enough not to presume that any body needs me to get closer to God. Believing or claiming to have a “special” or true insight into what God wants is a slippery slope toward complete ego identification.
My mother and I have had unique lives that most find hard to comprehend. To us, it’s the only life we’ve ever known, so there is no point of comparison, but from the outside looking in, I can now appreciate its novelty. Nevertheless, our path to recovery has been long and hard fought and like many in this room, we could not have made it without the support of loved ones and that universal presence of grace and love that is truly beyond understanding. Though we might sound or appear normal, we certainly bear the scars that are permanently etched into our being.
A favorite quote of mine is from Khalil Gibran who said that: “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”
I think we are fortunate because, although we have been through a lot, we can contain a lot. So that has been a blessing from the whole experience. And coming to ICSA has just been amazing. There are a lot of SGAs [Second Generation Adults] here, there are a lot of scholars, and lay people here. It has been a very powerful and encouraging sign to me going forward. There is hope and there is a way for people to recover and to heal from their experiences. Thank you. Thank you all.
My mother endured sexual exploitation from my father at the age of 17, she was arrested and interrogated by the authorities because of this same man, my father, she forsaked a billion dollar inheritance in support of this same man, my father, she conceived a son in secret and was then forced to give him away for the sake of this same man, my father, and now like many other Moonies we both live on the verge of foreclosure and bankruptcy, because over the past five years we have been in litigation to enforce payment owed to us by my father and the UC movement. I, for my part, have for many years sought recognition from a man who I now realise was not emotionally available due to his narcissism. Having a son of my own, I can now recognize how tragic my father’s life choices have been, as I could never conceive of abandoning my son, let alone living a life without him. My father is truly a sad and tragic human being. And the bottom line with him is this: one cannot claim to be the Messiah or the True Father to all mankind, and not be a father to his own son. It is the ultimate hypocrisy. [Applause]
As I mentioned, over the last five years, my mother and I have been embroiled in litigation for what is owed to us by my father and the UC movement. Mind you, 20 million dollars (the value of our legal claim) is a lot of money by anyone’s standard, but like those who sued the UC in Japan in order to claw back or reclaim funds that were coerced through spiritual racketeering, we believe, in principle, that we are doing the same with regards to the millions of dollars my grandmother and the Choi family have donated to the church for over two decades starting from 1953, which again in today’s dollars is well north of 20 million dollars, so actually the UC movement is getting quite a significant discount. The bottom line, again, is this: my grandmother and mother did not sign on for what the UC movement became. They did not sign on for the cult of personality, or the spiritual and financial enslavement of its members, many of whom, especially in Japan, were made destitute, and they didn’t sign on for the creation of a Korean-centric ruling elite who have enforced and maintained the sycophantic cocoon the Moons live in. If the Unification Church ever hopes to become a viable and legitimate organization, it needs to get back to the “unification” part of its namesake. There is no reason other than greed and corruption why the Moon family should horde billions in offshore accounts, while the vast majority of its membership go without. As the saying goes, charity begins at home and it’s time for the UC movement to live up to its founding mandate of creating a one world family, and not merely giving lip service to it. Our hope for coming forward today is really to inspire others to have the courage to take back their power, and stop participating in the lie that unfortunately became the UC movement.
There is one more point I wanted to make before I give the floor to Donna, because people are wondering why did it take so long for me to come forward? Why didn’t I come forward in support of Nansook and Donna. And simply the reason was I realize that I was naive, now. At the time I was hoping for some kind of reconciliation with my father. Despite the church stuff, ultimately he was my biological dad, and as a son, I really wanted to believe in his goodness, I really wanted to believe that he cared, that he really gave a damn. That was the toughest thing to let go of, eventually. Especially with the litigation, when you go through something like that when basically they spend more in legal fees than the value of the suit, that really tells you something about the nature of these people. To treat blood like this, and especially the sacrifices my mother had made. That really shifted me in a significant way, but it was delayed because I didn’t experience that until some time later. And that is when my pivot occurred. So that is the reason why it has taken so long for me to get to where I am today. But at least I got here today and that is the most important thing. So thank you all.” [Applause]
▲ Sun Myung Moon with Six Marys in Seoul in about 1956. The fifth woman from the left is Lee Duk-sam. She was the original wife of Choi Seong-mo. She met the FFWPU / UC in Busan. Moon invested a lot of time and effort to recruit her. He knew her husband was very rich. Choi Seong-mo always hoped his wife would return to him, but she never did.
Park Cheong-sook is standing third from the left, in front of Moon. She was another of the Six Marys. She was the honey trap who Moon persuaded to marry Choi Seong-mo. Park Cheong-sook is named in Choi’s obituary.
Eu Shin-hee also confirms that Moon pushed one of the ‘Six Marys’ to marry the founder of a ‘chaebol,’ a Korean conglomerate. (see Question 10 in the interview she gave which was republished in chapter 7 of The Tragedy of the Six Marys book.)
“Annie Choi joined Moon’s church along with her mother and sister in the early 1950s. … followers were expected to sacrifice everything for the church. For young female members, this included their virginity. Choi says the initiation rites for early female disciples involved having sex with Moon three times. She also alleges that Moon kept a stable of a half-dozen concubines, known as the Six Marys, and inducted her into the group when she was 17. Sometimes, she adds, he would assemble them all in a circle and take turns mounting them. Choi’s account is consistent with those of other early followers, who claim that Moon’s church began as an erotic cult, with Moon “purifying” female followers through sexual rites.”
Mother Jones EXCLUSIVE:
Meet the Love Child Rev. Sun Myung Moon Desperately Tried to Hide
How the family values crusader made the publisher of the Washington Times raise his secret son.
by MARIAH BLAKE December 9, 2013