The Korean background of the FFWPU (formerly the Unification Church), founded by Sun Myung Moon
by Young-Bok Chun
田 永褔. Secretary of the Evangelical Department of the General Assembly of the Korean Church in Japan. The article is compiled by the NCC Study Center, based on a presentation about the Unification Church by the Reverend Chun on Nov. 10, 1975, arranged by the Kyoto Christian Council.
▲ Yong-do Lee 李韻道 is on the right, next to him is Seung-geul Park 朴承傑. Behind them is Ho-bin Lee 李浩彬 who Sun Myung Moon 文鮮明 asked to officiate at his marriage to Choi Seon-gil 催先吉. Choi’s mother, who was a fundamentalist Presbyterian, disapproved of Moon’s religious beliefs.
Let me first clarify my own standpoint in the present discussion about the Unification Church. Last year several Korean church leaders issued a statement which clearly denounced the Unification Church as a non-Christian movement. Later the National Christian Council of Japan also presented its view on the movement, but it merely pointed out which parts of The Divine Principle differed from its own understanding of Christianity, and abstained from claiming that the movement was not Christian. I myself find this vague attitude somewhat unreasonable and basically agree with the Korean church leaders: The Unification Church should not be characterized as a Christian sect.
One has to admit that the Bible is an important part of its teaching; but Islam also recognizes and quotes the Bible and regards Moses and Jesus as great prophets. However, no one would claim that Islam is Christianity. Several of the new religions of Japan stress that their teaching is basically in harmony with Christianity, and often refer to the Bible, but none of them want to call their teaching Christian. The Unification Church claims that it is a Christian church founded on the Bible, but the Bible is interpreted through its holy scripture, The Divine Principle, which is the real basis of its teaching. I have had quite a lot of contact with members and leaders of the Unification Church, but the more I inquire and study their scriptures, the more I am convinced that it is quite unreasonable to call it a Christian sect.
Seen against the background of its origin and development in Korea, it is more correct to call it Moon-ism than Christianity. For it is a movement based on the founder, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon himself. In order to understand the Unification Church, one needs to see it in the light of the general Korean religious background and specific developments in some Christian sects. I will briefly indicate four points: the yin-yang philosophy, the prophetic scripture called Cheong Kam Nok 鄭鑑録, the ecstatic movements which advocated the “restoration of Eden,” and finally some sects which practised sexual rites as part of the establishment of the coming kingdom of God.
1. It is natural to point out the yin-yang philosophy as an important background for Moon’s thinking. In many popular forms this idea has penetrated the religious life of Korea. Even the Korean national flag has the traditional symbol of the “Great Origin,” which expresses the dual nature of the universe. The influence of this yin-yang philosophy is so obvious in Moon’s teaching that it is sufficient just to mention it here. The basic idea of the dual nature of God and the harmonious unification of male and female forces, man and woman included, reflects nothing but traditional yin-yang philosophy.
2. Another important factor which has influenced the Unification Church and several other new religious movements in Korea is the old scripture called Cheong Kam Nok (see below). It conveys both an indigenous form of the yin-yang philosophy, and also a sort of Messianic idea. It is a prophetic scripture and describes the apocalyptic catastrophies in a manner similar to the Biblical Apocalypse. In Cheong Kam Nok there is a prophecy that in the end period “the true man” will appear from the “Southern Ocean,” which is nothing but Korea itself. Moon’s understanding of himself is linked to this tradition. In his teaching there is a strong conviction that he himself is the elected prophet.
3. The idea of the “return to Eden” is another dominant factor in Moon’s thinking. This is not developed by Moon himself, but was one of the central ideas in several Christian movements in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
It is said that Moon was 16 years old when he received the revelation that he was the prophet raised up by God. At that time (1936) there were several ecstatic and messianic movements in Korea, and especially a Methodist pastor called Yong-do Lee seems to have influenced Moon. I often went to these meetings when I was young. The pastor was an enthusiastic and eloquent preacher and advocated a peculiar interpretation of the Bible. During the meetings he used to roll up a newspaper and go around saying, “Satan, get out! Satan, get out!” while the congregation was praying in a state of ecstatic shaking.
This movement advocated the so-called “restoration of the original state” before the fall of Adam and Eve. The congregation was dancing around and crying for the return of Eden. And when the pastor cried, “Adam and Eve were naked before the fall! Take off your clothes!” the men turned to the women and stripped off their clothes, and they danced around naked.
❖ Additional material:
Testimony of one of the first Ewha Woman’s University student to join:
“My name is Mrs. Kang Chung-won and my husband is Rev. Lee [Jae-suk] who is President of Super Denomination in Korea. I joined the Unification Church in 1954 in Seoul.
Because we followed Father [Sun Myung Moon] so fervently people at school and in society began to spread many lies and to oppose us. They spread rumours such as that we had electrical systems and that we danced in the nude. These were completely incredible to any intelligent person. The rumours about dancing in the nude came from people confusing us with another spiritual group which had danced like this thinking that their original sin had been forgiven and that they no longer had to feel shameful about their bodies. [Many members from that group joined the Unification Church.)
[After 14 of us were expelled from Ewha] we went to see Dr. Helen Kim, the Dean of Ewha Woman’s University, but she refused to talk with us saying that we had curtains over our eyes. She said we had gone crazy.
After that incident [the arrest of Father on July 4, 1955] we were always followed by the police, we were ridiculed by society and we had been expelled from school.”
Mr. Lee’s doctor had predicted that he would die of tuberculosis within a short time, but he continued his evangelistic work for more than ten years and had a considerable impact on the churches in Korea. Moon came to him in 1936 [Note: Young Do Lee died in 1933 – Moon joined the Jesus Church, founded on the teachings of Lee, in 1936] and was deeply influenced by him and other charismatic leaders. The movement was suppressed and the leaders were scattered, but Moon, who was a member of the group, brought with him the idea of the return to Eden.
4. Finally I have to mention Moon’s relation to some sects in which sexual rites were practised as a means to create a new mankind. At the age of 25 Moon engaged in this movement which practised the so-called “sharing of blood,” pi kareum (in Korean, in Japanese it is chiwake 血分け). These were rites of sexual intercourse between men and women. The idea was that the children who were going to be born through the “mixing of blood” would be without sin. Because of this “violation of social order” Moon was arrested in 1948 and sentenced to five years of imprisonment. He himself claims that a miracle occurred at that time: all the blood was extracted from his body, but he did not die. He was released during the Korean war in 1952 [in was October 1950], arrested again in 1955 for the same reason, but was later released.
When it was discovered that several female members of Korean churches had been to Moon’s center to receive pi kareum, an increasing number of people started to protest against this movement as a heretical religion. However, Moon did not at this time draw so much attention as another much more influential movement called Chun Do Kwan 伝道館, led by a presbyter called Tae-seon Park 朴泰善. This sect had installed separate rooms in the basement of the churches in which men and women had sexual intercourse. These rites drew a large number of people to the movement.
In 1954 Moon’s movement was established as a separate organization called The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity [or Unification Church for short. Moon later renamed it as The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.] In a later stage the political and anti-communist aspect of the movement has been more and more emphasized.
In 1958 the movement was introduced in Japan. [On May 27, Sang Ik Choi, aka Papasan Choi, went to Japan.] While the practise of pi kareum has been one of the central problems for the movement in Korea, the Unification Church in Japan seems to be extremely strict in sexual matters and it is difficult to trace any practice of sexual rites. But the idea of bearing children without sin is still central.
In 1960 Moon remarried, and called it “The Wedding of the Lamb.” This year was proclaimed as the beginning of the new age, cheong ki won nyon 天紀元年, “The First Year of the Heavenly Era.” All marriages had hitherto been the results of sinful relations, and in many cases people who were already married had to leave their spouses in order to marry according to Moon’s will. Now marriage between the perfect men and women who were willing to follow Moon’s command would initiate the new holy family and their children would be without sin. The mass-wedding ceremonies of the Unification Church are to be understood in this context.
It is often said that Moon himself has never declared himself as the Messiah. However, in 1968 he proclaimed that he was the Messiah, and later, when Korean pastors questioned whether Moon was regarded as the Messiah or not, a spokesman of the movement said that the one who should answer this question was not himself, but God. He himself, however, was convinced that Moon was raised by God to be the coming Messiah. If God had not recognized him, he said, he would not believe in him either.
Compared to Japanese Christians their Korean brothers have a much stronger sense of the uniqueness of Christ as the sole basis for salvation, and I find it strange that Japanese Christians do not take a much firmer stand against the Unification Church.
The Life of Sun Myung Moon – the Messiah of a Perverted Sex Religion (1991)
by Ryo Hagiwara. page 70
“Sun Myung Moon was first arrested by the security police on August 11, 1946. He was detained for three months at the Daedong police station [in Pyongyang]. The charge was for causing social disorder, for alleged sexual immorality.
On February 22, 1948 Sun Myung Moon was arrested for a second time by the 内務省 Ministry of the Interior [not 内務署 the Interior Department] for his coerced marriage with a housewife, Mrs Kim Chong-hwa. On April 27 he was sentenced to five years in Heungnam prison.”
Yong-do Lee wrote at least one book: The Theory of Love. His diaries have been published in ten volumes.
Yong-do Lee 李龍道 is also known as Yong-do Yi and Yong Do Rhee.
Moon joined the Jesus Church, founded by Mr. Lee, perhaps as early as 1932 together with the rest of his family when they all converted to Christianity at that time. Several sources have reported that Moon’s family never joined the Presbyterian church, but they joined the Jesus Church of Mr. Lee. When Moon moved to Seoul he started to attend the Jesus Church branch in Myungsudae. Moon was married to his first wife by a pastor from the Jesus Church. Moon never stated that he met Mr. Lee in person, but he has made many references to him. There is no record of Moon being connected with the Presbyterian Church besides the fact that it excommunicated him in 1948.
Gil Ja Sa Eu (the wife of Hyo-won Eu)
When numerous students and several outstanding professors became Unification Church members, they were given an ultimatum: Leave the Unification Church or leave Ewha Womans University. Mrs. Gil Ja Eu wrote:
… fourteen of us were called to the office of the dean of students. The dean told us, ‘The Unification Church is heresy, and they dance around in the nude. You mustn’t go there.’ We answered, ‘We haven’t even danced fully clothed, much less nude. If we wanted to dance, we would go to a dance hall. Why should we go to church to dance?’ But she said, ‘That’s not true. You don’t know because you’re not in very deeply yet. If you keep going, they will make you take your clothes off and dance.’
(from ‘My Testimony’ by Gil Ja Sa Eu, page 27 – an essay in the Unification Theological Seminary Library, Barrytown, New York.)
from Sun Myung Moon’s Life part 8
Moon’s words about Mr. Lee Yong-do:
“Pastor Lee Yong-do (1901-1933) The movement in the west transferred to Mrs. Heo Ho-bin and the movement in the east came under Mr. Lee Yong-do. Baek Nam-ju had been the Adam-figure, but because of Baek’s failure in fulfilling his responsibility, Pastor Lee came onstage. Pastor Lee’s church was somewhat different from Mrs. Lee’s. Originally, they were united. For a while, they cooperated, but then they separated. What did Pastor Lee do? He established the Jesus Church.
Mrs. Heo Ho-bin was director of the Central Theological Seminary. In 1930, Pastor Lee Yong-do appeared in Korea with fire like that of Elijah.
People who listened to him speak felt overwhelmed by Heaven. God’s grace poured out of him like water. Why did heavenly grace flow from him? Just as the people of Israel had to achieve oneness with Judaism in order to oppose Rome, Christianity had to carry Korea in order to drive away Japan and establish Heaven’s authority. That battle remained. God bestowed energetic fire on him in order that he might work out a way for all branches of Korean Christianity to become one. Only if all of Korean Christianity had united would they have completely avoided being compelled to practice Shintoism, Japanese traditional worship. If everyone had been completely united and fought against the Japanese, the Japanese would not have been able to carry out armed aggression. Why? Because those united people would have been in the position to claim Adam’s authority.
Pastor Lee Yong-do’s death
The established churches of the day opposed those who had special missions. Representative among those who opposed them was Kim Rin-see (1894-1964). He opposed Pastor Lee in writing. He stirred the entire nation against him. Heaven sent Lee Yong-do as a messenger in order to unite all Christians, yet Kim Rin-see did such a thing. Of course, many Christian leaders were behind him.
Pastor Lee Yong-do started the Jesus Church in Pyongyang. He died in 1933. Do you know how old he was at that time? He was just thirty-three years old. He lived as long as Jesus did. Without God’s help, it would have been impossible for Pastor Lee, who was so young, to cause such a cyclone in the Christian community in Korea.
There were two kinds of spiritual movements, one internal and the other external. Two churches, the “Inside the Belly” Church and the Jesus Church, both of which had been receiving teachings from Heaven, should have united. Toward that end, the group from the west traveled to meet the group in the east. Nevertheless, they failed to unite, so God had to establish a new movement. He needed pioneers in a new field, which is why God wanted to have another new person who would follow His directions. This person was from the Kim clan. [reference to Baek-moon Kim?]
The women who mourned Lee Yong-do
Here are some interesting facts. When a spiritual person dies, some people pray for the person. Mr. Lee died alone in Wonsan, but at the very moment of his death, God chose women in faraway places and told them to offer special prayers. Rival Christians may have said it was a good thing and danced in joy at this death, but many put on white garments and prayed for him for three days.
You have to understand that because of God’s hidden will in relation to the providence, He did not want to abandon His nation or His people. Thanks to those women who prayed with all their heart behind the scenes, God’s providence could continue through successive generations.
I looked at many people in the spiritual churches, which is why I am well aware of their activities. I also know many things about the work of Mrs. Gil Son-ju and Pastor Lee Yong-do. I clearly understand what kind of mission they had in those days. When the period of their responsibility was over, there had to be someone who could take over the mission.”
“In three stages, women had to prepare the heavenly providence. Why? Because Eve fell first, God had to call women first so they would be aware of how the Lord would come. Three generations had to prepare those providential activities. In those days, there was great confusion. As you know, going from Mrs. Kim Seong-do to Mrs. Heo Ho-bin and on from there, covered three generations. Thus, the course passing through Mrs. Kim Seong-do, Mrs. Heo Ho-bin and Pak Nopa* – the lady who claimed to be the wife of Jehovah – followed the women’s work. Pastors Baek Nam-ju, Lee Yong-do and Kim Baek-moon led the work being done by the men.”
*Pak Nopa is another name for Pak Wol-yong “the wife of Jehovah.” Moon referred to her many times in his Malssum speeches. Choe Joong-Hyun wrote a PhD thesis in 1993: “Sources give us four different given names of this old woman: Unnae (Malssum 33:134). Ullyong (Ok Se-hyun 1984:320-321), Ullo (Chong Deuk-eun 1958:5), and Wolyong (Tahk Myeong-hwan 1979:56). But here we choose to use “Wolyong” which sounds more natural and familiar as a female Korean name than the other three.”
from Sun Myung Moon’s Life part 9
Moon’s words about Kim Baek-moon:
“Kim Baek-moon and the Israel Jesus Church
Kim Baek-moon (1917-1990) was one of the three main successors to Rev. Lee Yong-do. He led an exemplary life of faith. This group had the status of a John the Baptist group. He heard the voice of God telling him to make a religious retreat. He heard the voice of God telling him to prepare for the returning Lord.
Kim Baek-moon and I were in the position of Cain and Abel, respectively; John the Baptist and Jesus. That’s why we hear the name Kim Baek-moon. Some people say that Rev. Moon was Kim Baek-moon’s disciple. What would I gain from that? He was a Christian, and according to his Christology, Jesus was God. He didn’t know the fundamental Principle. However, when it came to being spiritually attuned, he was on the highest level of faith among the Christians of the time. Because Kim Baek-moon was close to Dr. Syngman Rhee, Kim was a John the Baptist figure. God’s will could have been realized at that time. But it didn’t work out.
The Christian Council of Korea
from Overview of Protestant Churches in Korea:
6. Mystic Spirituality (1930 – 1940)
In the 1930s, changes had arisen on the surface in churches, caused by signs of separation in Presbyterian churches and frustration caused by shrine worship, etc. People began to seek different forms of spirituality. Christians’ commitment to social participation turned to mysticism and pessimism.
… Another example is the mysticism led by Lee Yong-Do. The arising of such faith was inevitable for Korean churches in the 1930s. Lee said that no other spirituality could exist except for the desperate love for Christ. In this sense, his faith can be defined as the “mysticism of the suffering Christ.” With his faith, Lee experienced the joy of forgetting worldly things, which led him away from the world. In order to express such an ecstatic sense of unity with God, Lee used sensual words such as bedroom, embrace, kiss, etc. However, he couldn’t forget Christ’s suffering on the cross. So, his faith was always related with lamentation for Christ. The despair and frustration of the Korean people might have reflected on this faith.
Another example is the mystic spirituality led by Baek Nam-Ju. Park Gye-Ju, a writer, once joined him. Baek’s belief is that God and Christ exist in a person, and the person becomes divine. If Lee Yong-Do hadn’t met them, he might not have ended his life so miserably.
Hwang Gook-Joo is another figure. Hwang had made improper remarks that his head was replaced by Jesus. In the darkest period, Korean churches had been in confusion related with cults.
Kuk-ju Hwang (Hwang Gook-Joo) was famous for his ‘orgies’. Researchers into Korean pikareum generally come to the conclusion that he was the man who started this pseudo-Christian sexual intercourse rite in Korea. There is information about Kuk-ju Hwang here:
There is also this reference in Rev Joseph Chang Hyung Yoo’s A Reformed Doctrine of Sanctification for the Korean Context (Ph.D. thesis submitted to the Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa.) February 2007. Page 423: “Cf. Dong-Ju Lee, “Why do we call the Unification a Heresy?,” Ministry and Theology no. 70 (April, 1995), p.209. In 1957 Dr Sa-Hun Shin disclosed the lineage of a circle of Pigarm [pikareum]. Moon’s Pigarm was traced to Deuk-Eun Jung [Chong], who was a disciple of Kuk-Ju Hwang. Ibid, p. 208.”
Shamanism: The Spirit World of Korea
Any understanding of the so-called New Religions of Korea would be difficult without some knowledge of shamanistic influences upon them.
The following doctrinal statement [was] filed with the Korean Government by Moon’s Unification Association:
1) The one creator is the only God and father.
2) The only son, Jesus, is mankind’s savior.
3) The Second Advent of Jesus is in Korea.
4) Mankind shall become one united family centered around the event of the Second Coming.
5) Ultimate salvation rests upon the elimination of Hell and evil while establishing good and the Kingdom of Heaven.
The letter additionally states that the group also secretly observes such other beliefs and practices as the following:
1) Founder Moon is the Second Advent Jesus.
2) A believer receives a spiritual body by participating in a ceremony known as blood cleansing which is for women to have sexual intercourse with Moon and for men to have intercourse with such a woman. This idea of blood cleansing comes from the teaching that Eve committed immorality with the Serpent and she passes on to all of us serpent blood.
3) Secretly observed doctrines are Holy covenant and are of more value than the Bible.
4) Members who have experienced blood cleansing can produce sinless generation [children].
5) Founder Moon is sinless.
Black Heung Jin Moon – When violence came to the FFWPU (Family Federation for World Peace and Unification) aka The Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han
The Cheong Kam Nok prophecy in the Divine Principle has nothing to do with Sun Myung Moon
Fact: “Cheong-Kam-Nok 鄭鑑録 means: ‘The record of Cheong Kam’
The earliest written evidence of a document called Cheong-Kam-Nok dates from 1785, but it is known that ideas from it were circulating at the time of Cheong Yorip’s plot of 1589. Other plans from the time of Prince Kwanghae onwards had a similar background. Some historians believe that the predictions contained in Cheong-Kam-Nok were symptomatic of widespread distress at the state of the government in mid-Chosŏn. No manuscript or early printed edition has survived: only rough manuscript versions appear to have circulated before the 20th century. The core section tells of Cheong Kam, a supposed ancestor of the Cheong clans, talking with a supposed ancestor of the Yi in the Diamond Mountains and predicting that after some centuries of Yi rule in Hanyang (Seoul), the crown would pass to a Cheong dynasty, set up on Kyeryong-san in South Chungchong province. The Cheong dynasty would be followed in due time by a Cho dynasty, then Pom, Wang and other dynasties, all with different capitals. In the version printed in 1923, other elements of a similar prophetic kind have been added.”
Korea: A Historical and Cultural Dictionary (1999)
by Keith Pratt and Richard Rutt
1. The crown will pass to a Cheong dynasty, then Cho, Pom and Wang. In Korea the family blood-line is crucial. It cannot be changed. Moon is not on the list. The prophecy is about a man named Cheong, descended from Cheong Mong Joo, the most famous scholar in the ancient Koryŏ dynasty. The family name of Cheong is repeated many times.
2. The language of the book is ambiguous and can be interpreted in many ways, but it is clear about the Cheong lineage.
3. When the Cheong-Kam-Nok was printed for the first time in 1923, other material was added. It has mixed sources.
4. “Cheong Do Ryung” means “Cheong – adorable young man of noble descent”. ref scholar Kyuk Am Yu Rok and others. Compare this translation of “Cheong Do Ryung” with the Divine Principle translation below.
5. 鄭 can be written as Cheong / Chong / Chung / Jeong
Divine Principle (1996) pp.404-05 and World Scripture II (2007) page 552
3.3.4 Messianic Prophecies
“The Korean people have long cherished a messianic hope, nurtured by the clear testimonies of their prophets. The First Israel believed in the testimonies of its prophets that the Messiah would come as their king, establish the Kingdom and bring them salvation. The Second Israel was able to endure an arduous path of faith due in part to their hope in the return of Christ. Similarly, the Korean people, the Third Israel, have believed in the prophecy that the Righteous King will appear and found a glorious and everlasting kingdom in their land. Clinging to this hope, they found the strength to endure their afflictions. This messianic idea among the Korean people was revealed through the Chonggamnok, a book of prophecy written in the fourteenth century at the beginning of the Yi dynasty.
Because this prophecy foretold that a new king would emerge, the ruling class tried to suppress it. The Japanese colonial regime tried to stamp out this notion by burning the book and oppressing its believers. After Christianity became widely accepted, the idea was ridiculed as superstition. Nevertheless, this messianic hope still lives on, deeply ingrained in the soul of the Korean people. The hoped-for Righteous King foretold in the Chonggamnok has the appellation Cheongdoryong (the one who comes with the true Word of God). In fact, this is a Korean prophecy of the Christ who is to return to Korea. Even before the introduction of Christianity to Korea, God had revealed through the Chonggamnok that the Messiah would come to that land. Today, scholars affirm that many passages of this book of prophecy coincide with the prophecies in the Bible.
Furthermore, among the faithful of every religion in Korea are those who have received revelations that the founders of their religions will return to Korea. We learned through our study of the progress of cultural spheres that all religions are converging toward one religion. God’s desire is for Christianity of the Last Days to become this final religion which can assume the responsibility of completing the goals of the many religions in history. The returning Christ, who comes as the center of Christianity, will attain the purposes which the founders of religions strove to accomplish. Therefore, with respect to his mission, Christ at his return may be regarded as the second coming of the founder of every religion. When the second comings of the founders of the various religions appear in Korea in fulfillment of the diverse revelations, they will not come as different individuals. One person, Christ at the Second Advent, will come as the fulfillment of all these revelations. The Lord whose coming has been revealed to believers in various religions, including the Maitreya Buddha in Buddhism, the True Man in Confucianism, the returning Ch’oe Su-un who founded the religion of Ch’ondogyo, and the coming of Cheongdoryong in the Chonggamnok, will be none other than Christ at the Second Advent.”
The Words of David S. C. Kim from May 1, 1984
“It was during the first week of February 1954 that I accepted Father as the Messiah, come, as prophesied in the Old Testament and New Testament of the Bible; as the Second Coming of the founders of major religions in other non-Christian sacred books; and as the Righteous Man (Chung Do-Ryung) in the so-called Chung-Gam-Rok, a prophetic book written during the Lee Dynasty in modern Korean history.”
As a Korean, David S. C. Kim would know very clearly that 鄭 is the family name Cheong / Chung and that the prophecy had nothing to do with anyone from the Moon clan.
He was deceiving all the non-Korean UC members. Koreans could understand the real meaning of 鄭.
Here are some examples of 鄭 :
鄭達玉 Cheong Dal-ok, the wife of 金元弼 Kim Won-pil.
鄭大和 Cheong Dae-hwa, the wife of 金榮輝 Kim Young-hwi.