Sun Myung Moon, The Early Years, 1920-53
By Michael Breen
Jerusalem of the East
Pyongyang in 1946 was still a dynamic center for Korean Christianity. Denominations which had been banned by the Japanese had re-established themselves. There were churches everywhere. Christians called the city the Jerusalem of the East. But the writing was on the wall, as the Soviet-backed authorities began breaking up Christian power.l
Kim Baek-moon stayed in the city for a few days and held revival meetings in the Na's home in the northern suburb of Kyongchang-ri before returning to the South. Sun-myung Moon visited some relatives who lived in Chong-up, Pyongyang, and then stayed on at the Na's house. He began holding services there.
|Kim Baek-moon, founder of the Israel Jesus Church (Pak Kyong-do|
A few days after his arrival in Pyongyang, he met Kim Chong-hwa and her husband, who lived nearby. She was the women's group leader at the Somunae-pak Church, one of the largest Presbyterian churches in the city. She would become his main follower in north Korea. "A great preacher has come from Seoul," she told her husband's cousin, Kim In-ju, also a Presbyterian. "Why don't you come and hear him."2
On June 11, the two women went to the Na family's house, where a few people had gathered for a worship service. They noted that the room was not divided, men on one side and women on the other, as in the established churches. As the service began, they were further surprised by the unorthodox style. Instead of the one-hour meeting they were used to, with a few hymns and a short sermon, the service seemed to have no form. The believers, mostly middle-aged women, sang the same hymn over and over again. They also sang some Korean folk songs as well as hymns which, for the orthodox visitors, bordered on the revolutionary.3 As they sang, they noticed the young preacher's eyes were full of tears.
When Moon prayed, his prayer was different from anything they had heard in the churches. He prayed with such intensity and feeling that the sweat and tears seemed to pour from him. "I had never been so deeply struck by anyone's prayer in my life," Kim In-lu recalled. Moon read a passage from the Bible and began preaching. His sermon was on the fact that Jesus' death on the cross was not God's original plan. Jesus should have lived much longer on earth in order to realize God's salvation providence. As he preached, he wept out of sorrow for Jesus. The two women were jolted by the idea that Jesus' death was not destined. They had understood that salvation was possible by virtue of Jesus' death on the cross and had never considered otherwise. It had never occurred to them that he should not have died so young, but should have accomplished God's salvation work through a much longer life. Kim In-ju found herself crying.
That night, she dreamed that she was travelling through a dark tunnel. At the end of it she met Moon. A funeral procession was passing. Fluid from the decomposing body was leaking from the coffin and fell on her clothes. She was afraid. Moon wiped her clothes clean and told her to go to a garden. There, amid beautiful flowers she met Jesus, who took her hand and guided her as she walked. Previously, she had dreamed of Jesus only after many days of early morning prayer. She started attending Moon's services in the hope that she would dream of Jesus more often. She also began to prophecy. She would get up in the morning and words would start pouring out of her mouth. Sometimes she saw visions of the spiritual world, and heard God's voice as clearly as if she were listening to a radio. She felt she was experiencing God not just as an abstraction but as a concrete reality.
In one sermon, Moon taught that Korea was the second Israel and that the return of Jesus would take place in Korea. But, he said, the return would not happen in either the spiritual or supernatural way that Christians tended to expect. He said that, just as the mission of the Old Testament prophet Elijah passed in the time of Jesus to John the Baptist, so the mission of Jesus would pass to another.4 After this sermon, In-ju prayed to ask God where in Korea the Lord would come. In her prayer she had a vision. Jesus appeared, walked into the room and bowed his head and began to pray: "This daughter of yours has to go a very long and difficult way. Let her complete this journey without going astray."
The voice was Moon's. As Jesus finished praying and said "Amen," she looked up but it was no longer Jesus. The face had changed to Moon's. She felt the answer to her prayer had been given. Moon was the Christ.
Some time later, she felt directed by God to read the prophecies of God's kingdom in chapter 60 of Isaiah in the Bible, and heard a voice within her say, "This is the chapter that preacher Moon is to fulfill. The next morning, she went to see Moon, and before she could open her mouth he asked, "Didn't God tell you last night to read Isaiah 60, and didn't he say this was the chapter to be fulfilled now?" Kim In-ju had several such encounters with Moon. Such spiritual experiences, far from being unusual. were common among the early followers.
A few weeks later, Kim In-ju took her eighteen-year-old nephew, Kim Won-pil, to a service. He was shy and overawed by the others in the congregation who were very spiritual and who asked questions he didn't understand. "You meditate a lot, don't you?" Moon asked him. "Your meditation should have some focal point."6
The simple, perceptive advice made a deep impression on Kim. He began coming regularly to the services. He did not have spiritual experiences like the others. He didn't understand the sophisticated concepts, and felt inadequate because he was not able to bring himself to cry like the others did in their prayers. But he found himself feeling peaceful in Moon's presence, and he trusted him. He took notes from Moon's sermons and talks, and studied them. "Please remember, our group is very unique," Moon told him one day. "It is totally unlike anything in the past, or anything that will develop in the future. In all history, there is only one group like this."
In these first few weeks, Moon established the routine of his new role as spiritual leader. Before each 10 a.m. Sunday service, he would pray for hours. Some of the spiritual women would pray overnight, and others would arrive early Sunday morning to pray. In this way, they prepared themselves for the service. When people just dropped in out of curiosity, Moon found he had difficulty preaching, but if the congregation had prepared as the spiritual women instructed them, the inspiration would come. Sometimes the services would last for hours, and the believers became so inspired that they would stand up and dance around. As the Na's house faced the road, the noise began to attract attention.
Those who attended without their husband or wife began to experience problems at home. After hearing Moon's explanation that the fall of man had been sexual and how God's heart was broken by the loss of his children, many felt impure and stopped sexual relations with their spouse. Suspicious husbands and wives came to find out what was going on, and would see many men and women in the same room, singing and talking together for hours, which was very unusual, given the strict Korean customs prohibiting contact with the opposite sex. Rumors of orgies spread. One husband became convinced that the handsome young preacher was having an affair with his wife, and reported him to the Communist authorities.7
On August 11, 1946, in response to the complaint, agents came and took Moon to the Daedong security police station It was 11 p.m. when they arrived, and the other prisoners in the crowded cell were asleep. His experience behind bars in Seoul made him mindful of the social code among prisoners. The first rule was that, whatever his job or crime, the new arrival is at the bottom of the ladder. He accordingly took a space by the toilet.8 In the morning, the cell chief, the prisoner who had been there the longest, looked him over.
"Let this man come and sit here next to me," he instructed the others in the cell. "He is someone special." To everyone's surprise, when Moon sat down beside him, the man bowed respectfully.
"Now I have met the man I wanted to meet," the man said. He introduced himself as Mr. Hwang, and explained to Moon that he was a member of a religious group which had received revelation that they would meet the Lord in prison. The leader of the group, a spiritual woman, Huh Ho-bin, and the other group leaders were in neighboring cells. "Last night I dreamed that I saw her bowing to someone, and when I woke up this morning I saw the person was here in this cell. It was you.
"Why are you being held?" Moon asked.
"They say that if we deny our revelations they will let us go, but the leaders are refusing to do it," he explained.
The man recounted the history of Mrs. Huh's group. The story began in Cheolsan, the home town of Moon's wife, with a woman called Kim Song-do, an uneducated believer who had converted to Christianity after being cured of a mental illness by a faith healer.9 The woman found that she had a healing ability, and laid hands on her son and cured him when he was sick. As her faith deepened, persecution from her Confucian husband increased. He tore her clothes to prevent her from going to church. The husband finally decided to leave his wife, and died shortly afterwards. She continued going to church.
In 1924, Kim's church minister was arrested for adultery.10 She was shocked and prayed deeply about how a man of God could make such a mistake. Satan appeared to her and mocked her. Then Jesus appeared in her prayers and told her that adultery was the root of sin. He also said that his crucifixion had been the result of the mistrust of his own people, that the Second Advent of Christ would occur through another man and that he would appear in Korea. She wrote Jesus' words out on twelve large strips of paper six foot long by one foot wide. She was told to teach what she had learned. Her minister said it was the work of the devil, but her story got round and soon many Christians began to visit her. As interest grew, the Presbyterian Church expelled her.
Kim began holding services at home, teaching that believers should repent for the death of Jesus as if they had killed him themselves. .She received revelation that men and women should prepare themselves for the coming Lord, that single people should not marry, and that married couples should refrain from sexual relations. People came to see her from all over Korea, and she taught them to prepare for the coming Messiah. Her group expanded to nearby towns and to Jeongju, Anju, Sukcheon, Pyongyang, Wonsan, Haeju and Seoul.
The services were very noisy and ecstatic. In 1934, the Jesus Church held joint services with Kim's unregistered group to protect them from the Japanese authorities. As we saw in chapter three, the Jesus Church was rapidly expanding. This relationship lasted for three years until the Jesus Church, upset by the group's heretical belief that the Lord would return in the flesh and by claims of some of the believers that Kim was the Lord, severed ties. Baek Nam-ju, who had been expelled from the Jesus Church for adultery, helped Kim set up her group independently and suggested the name, Holy Lord Church. Her eldest son, Chung Suk-cheon, was registered as the nominal leader.
|Kim Song-do, founder of the Holy Lord Group (HSA-UWC, Seoul)|
Some of Kim's group believed she would never die. Mrs. Kim, more realistically, began to prepare her daughter-in-law - the daughter of a minister - to inherit her mission. She instructed her son and daughter-in-law to refrain from sexual relations. Suk-cheon was not so taken with the idea, and he objected. Later, half his body became paralyzed, which believers saw as a judgment from heaven for his disobedience.
In 1943, one of Kim's young followers told a person to whom he was witnessing that Japan would decline and Korea would become an advanced power in the future. He didn't realize he was speaking to a policeman. Kim and her two sons were arrested and tortured severely. They were freed without charge a hundred days later. Weakened by torture, Kim Song-do died the following April, aged sixty-two.
Her mission, Moon's cell-mate explained, passed on to another woman, Huh Ho-bin, who was the leader of the Holy Lord Church in Pyongyang. Huh and her husband, Lee Il-duk, were such fanatical followers that they would go to Pyongyang train station to wait for Kim to arrive, even after she had died. Every time Mrs. Huh received a revelation, her stomach would move as if she were pregnant. This unusual experience was cited by the followers as further evidence of the truth of Kim's teaching that, contrary to common Christian belief, the Lord would be born in the flesh. Huh's group became informally known as 'Bokjung-Kyo' literally the In-the-Belly Church.
Jesus is said to have appeared to Huh and told her details of his suffering life that are not in the Bible. She claimed Jesus told her that his mother had neglected him, that Joseph did not love him, and that he was never given good food or decent clothes even on his birthday. As he confided in her, Jesus said to her, "You are my mother." He would be her teacher, and wanted to experience from her the love of a mother and a wife, he said. In an original and remarkable expression of devotion, Mrs. Huh and her followers made a set of Korean and western clothes for Jesus for every three days of his life from birth to the age of thirty-three. A room was specially set aside for the task. For each item they bought only the best material, they did not barter the cost, and in hand sewing they tied off every third stitch. When this labor was complete, Jesus told her to do the same for the coming Lord.
"The new Lord is twenty-six and you must serve him well, as you have served me," Jesus said.
Some three hundred people helped her in this endeavor, providing money and time. Discipline was very strict. Her husband obeyed her instructions, even on one occasion in winter when she ordered him out of the house, barefoot, in a symbolic rejection of the archangel who defiled Eve.
"Don't come back for six months. You can live by begging," she said. As he totally followed the penance, she accepted him back after six days.
Huh received a revelation that Japan would surrender on July 7, 1945, by the lunar calendar (August 16 by solar calendar). She spoke out confidently about this, and subsequently was arrested by the Japanese colonial authorities. At her trial she was asked, "Who is higher, God or the Emperor."
"God!" she shouted. She was sentenced to death, but Japan was defeated a few days before the sentence was to be carried out. In prison, she had received a revelation that the Emperor, whose voice had never been heard, would broadcast to the people. Her followers believed her, and the prophecy came true. Then she told her followers that God had said she would meet the new Lord when Japan falls. When she was released, her followers were ecstatic in anticipation. They began again to prepare clothing for the Lord. She then received a revelation that the people should not pray, but should bow to God as if he were there. Moon's fellow prisoner, Hwang, said one night he bowed five thou sand times. As expectation mounted, they bought a beautiful house in Pyongyang for the Lord, assigned twelve disciples and seventy apostles. Huh's sixteen-year-old daughter was prepared as a bride.
Huh said they would meet the Lord when they had gathered in one place. Later she clarified the message, saying that she had received a revelation that she would meet the Messiah in prison like Choon-hyang - the heroine in an old Korean folk tale who is unjustly imprisoned for spurning the advances of a corrupt governor. In the tale, Choon-hyang's faithful lover comes to the prison in beggar's rags, having apparently fallen on hard times. After she pledges her true love to him, he reveals his true role as an undercover investigator for the king, and rescues her.
In 1946, leading members of the In-the-Belly group gathered, thinking they would meet the Lord. Instead, they were arrested by the Communist authorities and imprisoned. As the group lived on donations and many members had sold their property and donated the money, the authorities accused the leaders of fraud. However, during the interrogations, the police were unable to find evidence to corroborate the charge. They decided on a face-saving pretext to release them - the leaders should deny the belief that Huh's belly moved as if with child every time she had a revelation. They refused, despite torture. Hwang told Moon that Mrs. Huh's brother had already died from beatings.
"Your group is specially prepared by God," Moon said to his cellmate. "I will take all responsibility if you deny to the authorities your experiences. Just deny the facts and you will be released. Please tell Mrs. Huh to do the same."
When the prisoners were gathered at midday to eat, Hwang conveyed the message to Huh. But she refused to accept what he told her. Hwang himself denied the revelations at his next interrogation and was released11
Shortly afterwards, Huh's husband was transferred to the same cell as Moon. Moon gave him the same advice as he had given Hwang, but he said he would follow his wife. Moon then tried to smuggle a note to her. The message, written with mud using a fish bone as a nib on a piece of white cloth, said: "The writer of this note has a mission from heaven. Pray to find out who he is. If you deny everything you have received, you will be released." After Huh read it, the note was discovered by a guard. Moon was exposed as the culprit and was severely tortured
This incident happened on September 18. He had already been held for almost six weeks, during which time his interrogators had tried to get him to confess to being a spy for the American Military Government which was ruling in south Korea. They demanded to know why he had come from Seoul and been living in Pyongyang without an identity card. He explained that he had come to preach the word of God and that he was not a spy.
The north Koreans had inherited the Japanese torture methods and added some Soviet refinements. For several days during the interrogation, Moon was not given food and not allowed to sleep. When he began to fall asleep, a guard would shout or hit him. The guards were on three-hour rotation duty. After a couple of days, he devised a way to totally relax his nervous system for a few minutes at a time, while keeping his eyes open. He was also beaten savagely. He steeled himself to endure each time. With each blow he imagined God's blessing would increase.12
Moon was eventually interrogated by a Soviet investigator and declared innocent. On October 31, authorities notified his followers that they could come and collect him. His chief follower, Kim Chong-hwa, and her husband, Chong Myong-sun, came to the prison with the young Kim Won-pil and Na Choi-sup, the daughter of his landlady. They were shocked when they found him. He had been thrown out into the yard, half dead from the beatings, his clothes stuck to his body by clotted blood. As they took him home, he was vomiting so much blood that they thought he would die. There was talk of preparing a funeral.
Kim Won-pil went to a Chinese clinic at the bottom of Mansudae Hill in the center of the city and bought some Chinese medicine. After three weeks, Moon began to recover.
Soon he was teaching again. In December, Kim Chong-hwa's brother-in-law, Cha Sang-soon, and two womlen, Ok Se-hyun and Chong Dal-ok, became followers. Ok was a wealthy, middle-aged woman, who had received revelations that the Lord would come.
|Ok Se-hyun, a follower from Pyongyang (HSA-UWC)|
One of the first things Moon did when he had recuperated was to ask thirty-seven year-old Cha, a longtime Presbyterian, to find out what had happened to Mrs. Huh. Mr. Cha visited Huh's mother, who told him that the members were still in prison She seemed happy to meet him.
"I had a revelation yesterday that an important visitor would come." she said. Cha asked her how she thought the Lord would return "He will have a good character, be good-looking and educated and my daughter is going to meet him in prison," she said.13
Huh eventually died in prison. The other leaders of the group were all sent to a labor camp when the Korean War broke out in 1950, and are believed to have been killed.
Had Huh simply prayed about who had sent her the note, Unificationist elders teach, God would have showed her, and she would have denied her revelations to the interrogators simply to obtain release.14 Again, as with Kim Baek-moon's Israel Church, we can only speculate on the development of Moon's mission if the In-the-Belly group had joined him. Where Kim would have formulated the doctrine and provided influence, Huh and her followers would have brought ceremony and disciplined spirituality to a new movement led by Moon. Although they had prepared Huh's daughter as a bride for the Christ, Moon would not have married her, of course, as he was already married. The preparation was an act of devotion and obedience to Huh's revelations. As a postscript to this encounter, however, it should be noted that, when Moon's wife left him and he remarried, his new bride was the daughter of the only known survivor of Huh's group. Had the en counter with Huh had a happier outcome, in the worsening political climate Moon may also have taken his new following to south Korea, instead of staying in Pyongyang, where he would shortly face a second arrest.
In January, 1947, he moved to the house of Kim Chong-hwa and her husband, Chong Myong-sun, who had become the leading members of his small group. He told the Na sisters the move was necessary because their house was too near the road and the services attracted too much attention. But he may also have doubted their commitment to him, for Choi-sup was already becoming disturbed by the spiritual experiences of other members of the group that equated Moon with Jesus. "I prayed very much to see if what he said was true," she said. "I prayed so hard I couldn't eat. Finally I decided it was false. I believed in him just as a good Bible teacher." She and her sister went to south Korea, where they enrolled in Kim Baek-moon's new seminary course.
"Why does he say that?" an annoyed Kim asked in a sermon, after the Na sisters reported that Moon was saying that Kim should follow him, not the other way round. In another sermon, he told his group that Moon was claiming to be the new Christ."15
Moon's new landlord, Chong Myong-sun, worked at a nearby sock factory which was run by his brother.16 He supported Moon, and his wife made Moon's clothes and did his washing. There, for the next year, Moon held services which, by the end of 1947, were being attended regularly by around forty people.
During the day he would take care of members, and pray and study the Bible. He invested himself completely in his followers. Many had been led directly through revelations. He fasted three days, and sometimes seven days, for each new person.
In 1947, he wrote a hymn for the congregation to sing. He called it 'Song of the Victors' The first verse went:
Sing a loud hosanna to the Lord.
Offer everything with humble heart.
Come attend the Lord, o rejoice in him
Who brings new life to all the world.
Let us go determined to seek and find
All the promised glory of the Lord.
There we'll sing new songs in the garden fair,
Songs of freedom bright with happiness.17
One day in 1947, a middle-aged woman, Chi Seung-do, walked in at the end of a service after hearing the hymn-singing as she was going by.
|Chi Seung-do, who joind Moon in Pyongyang (HSA-UWC, Seoul)|
"Where are you from?" Moon asked her.
"I've just come from the service at the Sangjon-hyon Church."
"How long have you been a Christian?"
"For 24 years."
"Then God must have given you some special revelations in that time."
"In 1943, God told me I would find the Messiah in five years if I prayed. Now God has led me here."
"Well, if God leads you so well, you should pray more." In her prayers over the next week, God showed her signs that convinced her Moon was the Lord.18
In the meantime, the Christian churches were running into more and more difficulties with the government. The Communists had been obliged to tread lightly with the churches at first, in view of the Christian contribution to the anti-Japanese movement. Not only had they been more effective than the Communists during the occupation years, but also, at independence, Christianity was the single most influential force in the country. Furthermore the North, and especially Pyongyang, was the strongest Christian area. There were around three hundred thousand Protestant believers and fifty thousand Catholics in north Korea in 1945. Ironically, the Communists had been stronger in south Korea than in the North at the time of independence.
The first open confrontation was not long in coming. It followed the establishment in 1945 in Shin-uiju, North Pyong-an Province, of the Christian Social Democratic Party as the first political party in north Korea.19 The founders were two Presbyterian ministers, Yoon Ha-yong and Han Kyong-jik. In a Communist raid on a local church committee meeting to plan the party's inauguration in Yong-am-po, twenty-three people were killed. This lead to a major protest in Shin-uiju by Christian students. In Pyongyang, Christian leader Kim Hwa-sik and forty others were arrested the day before the planned inauguration of a Christian Liberal Party.
The turning point came when Christian clergy refused to attend a Communist ceremony marking the anniversary of the March 1st (independence) Movement. About sixty ministers were arrested, but Christians went ahead and held their own ceremony with ten thousand people in Jangdae-hyon Church in Pyongyang. The church was raided by security police during the service, and protesters took to the streets. Faced with such massive opposition, the authorities turned to more subtle tactics, exploiting divisions and infiltrating churches. To co-opt the powerful Christian leaders, the Communists enrolled Protestant minister Kang Yang-uk, a maternal uncle of Communist leader Kim Il-sung, to try and persuade Christians to abstain from politics. His pro Communist Christian League, set up in the spring of 1946, met with little success at first. He had been one of the ministers who urged Christians to worship at Shinto shrines during the Japanese rule, and was not popular. But by 1949, ministers and laity were being coerced to join the League. Those who refused were arrested.
At the same time as the League was set up, the government confiscated property belonging to fifteen thousand Buddhist temples, Christian churches, and other religious organizations, under a land reformation law. In August, when heavy industry was nationalized, the government took the opportunity to confiscate all remaining properties, thereby leaving religious groups totally reliant on donations from their members. Education was also brought under government control, and Christian-run schools were taken over. on November 3, 1946, Christians, organized by the Five Provinces Presbyterian Association, boycotted the general election which was held on a Sunday. The boycott brought intensified pressure from the government.
Despite the mounting oppression, many religious believers, through other-worldliness or simple naivete failed to grasp the seriousness of the anti-religious drive. Many meekly acquiesced to Communist pressure or simply tried to ignore it. The colonial experience blinded many Koreans to their fundamental divisions. "I was not so concerned about the Communists. They were Koreans," said Han Joon-myong in an interview. Han, who was one of the founders of the Jesus Church, said: "I thought we disagreed in politics but that in heart we were brothers. I was wrong." During the Korean war, he miraculously survived a massacre of some three hundred ideological offenders by Communist authorities in a cave in October, 1950. It took this experience, he said, to convince him that the Communists did not look upon him as their brother.20
The Communists were also able to make use of inter-religious and inter-denominational rivalries. No Christians are known to have objected to the arrest of the In-the-Belly Church members, for example. In actuality, it appears they welcomed such moves, seeing God's hand moving in divine retribution against heretics.
Similarly, Sun-myung Moon could expect no support for his right to preach from the Christian establishment, for whom he represented a growing nuisance. He was attracting good Christians away from their churches. Several of his followers were prominent lay figures, and their ministers resented their abrupt departure and the loss of the weekly donations.21 Kim Chong-hwa, for example, had been the women's leader at the Somunae-pak Presbyterian Church, a huge church with thousands of members, which ran two mission schools. Kim In-ju's father, Kim Chi-joon, was an elder of the Jangdae-hyon Presbyterian Church, the city's biggest church. Ok Se-hyun's husband was an elder at the Jangdong Presbyterian Church. Chi Seung-do was a member of the Sangjon-hyon Presbyterian Church. Chong Dal-ok was the daughter of a Methodist minister.
However, the main challenge as far as the churches were concerned was that Moon was teaching heresy. He was convincing people that the second coming of Christ would occur in Korea. Several ministers visited him to thrash out some theological issues, but gave up when he politely countered with biblical explanations.22 He fielded questions about his own role by telling people they should pray about it. After coming out of prison, he told followers they should pray in the name of the new Christ. Some people believed, on the basis of revelations and spiritual experiences, that he was himself the new Christ. Others, such as Kim Won-pil, came to a similar conclusion from listening to his teaching and observing his lifestyle and behavior.23
The criticism and angry opposition from their families and churches made even the most spiritual members doubt at times, but as they so solved their difficulties their faith grew. They discussed their problems with Moon. He sometimes offered interpretations of their spiritual experience, but otherwise he rarely talked about spiritual phenomena. Moon's attraction for the small group of Christians that grew up around him lay in his passion for and his new insights about God, not in any supernatural arts. He never referred to his visions, nor did he make bold prophecies or perform healings. He listened to his followers' problems and advised them on their life of faith.24
The followers were not always so sensitive to one another. The more spiritual types testified impulsively, without letting others discover Moon's teaching and its significance for themselves. One lady in a service declared that she had seen Jesus in Moon's heart. Another spiritual woman announced to the other members that Moon himself was the Christ. Those who had received similar revelations were further inspired, but for others such pronouncements by the spiritualists were disturbing. Attempts by some followers to convince outsiders that Moon was the Christ soon ended any hope of reasonable consideration of his teachings from established church officials.
Almost all those who continued to follow him had to endure some measure of persecution. Ok Se-hyun was beaten by her husband. Kim Won-pil was thrown out of his home by his family, and took lodgings in Ok's house. Kim In-ju was told by her parents that she was in the grip of Satan. They believed that Jesus would return literally on the clouds, as the Bible said, and were convinced that their daughter, who was talking about Christ returning as another man, was completely possessed.
"We must drive Satan out to rescue you from the anti-Christ," they said. They regularly beat and whipped her. She was forbidden to go out to attend what was being called the 'Moon House.' Sometimes after she had been whipped, she looked outside her window and could see two or three of the members dressed in white, standing in the street, praying. She knew that Moon had sent them and felt comforted. On one occasion, her parents visited the house of their nephew, Chong Myong-son, where Moon was staying. When he saw Moon, her father grabbed hold of his hair and began yelling at him.
"You think you're Jesus? You think you're Jesus?" He wouldn't let go. Moon didn't move. In the melee, Kim Chong-hwa kicked In-ju's mother, and one of the members, a woman called Chong Deuk-eun, bit In- ju's father's hand. "Look what kind of person you are following," he said to her later at home, holding up a bruised fist.25 Matters were not helped when the woman who had told Kim In-ju's mother that In-ju had been sneaking off to the 'Moon House' went blind, and the church elder, who had been telling her father not to allow her out to attend Moon's meetings, had a stroke and became half-paralyzed.
An even more serious case of what the followers interpreted as retribution involved the husband of another follower, an ardent Christian called Pak Ul-nae. Pak's husband sometimes came to the house and shouted obscenities through the window of Sun-myung Moon's room . One night after doing this, he suddenly died of a heart attack. These incidents added to the sense of controversy which surrounded the dynamic young preacher.
Moon tried to defuse some of the animosity, sending Cha Sang-soon to explain his teachings to a number of Christian figures. The move met with little success. At the Jangdong Church, when he tried to see Choi Pil-gun, the minister and president of the Pyongyang Seminary, Cha was bodily thrown out of the church by six or seven officials.26
The churches realized that, without government power, they would not be able to prevent Moon from preaching, so they began to write formal protests against him. By early 1948, his followers say, the Communist authorities had received some eighty complaints that Moon was swindling Christians, breaking up families and committing adultery. In order to investigate the allegations, the police sent a spy, a woman who stayed for a few days and asked many questions.
Meanwhile, in mid-February 1942, Chi Seung-do said she had received a revelation that March 1 would be a special day for Heaven. Moon, who was always responsive to his followers' spiritual experiences, said they should prepare to celebrate the day, and asked Cha to go to Jeongju and invite his family. Cha took the train and stayed at the Moon's home in Sangsa-ri for three days. At dinner the whole family, including the relatives, gathered and Cha told them that their son was the returned Christ. Cha felt that Moon's grandfather accepted what he had told them, but that the other relatives were sceptical.27 In fact they were critical. They had expected Moon would become some kind of leader, and now that Korea was freed from Japanese control, he could become a politician without getting into trouble. He could even be the president one day, some relatives thought. But what was he doing claiming to be the Messiah? The Messiah was coming in the clouds, as the Bible said. It had never even been suggested the Messiah could be a person other than Jesus. It was as if he was disposed to cause trouble. They grumbled against him: "We were expecting him to become a traitor, but he's become a traitor in the religious sense." But, still, he was family, and they were worried about him.
Cha returned to Pyongyang on February 2~ with Moon's mother and brother, to find that Moon had been arrested by the police on February 22. The followers said the police had come about two hours before the Sunday service was due to start. Kim Chong-hwa, Ok Se-hyun, Kim Won-pil, and a young woman who had come to a service were arrested at the same time. The woman and Won-pil were released after two days of interrogation. Ok was released after nine days. They were not beaten, but suffered sleep-deprivation. Kim Won-pil concluded from his interrogation that the authorities figured that Moon was deceiving believers to get them to donate their money to him. The police questioned Won-pil's primary school children to find out what he was teaching them. Ok was asked if Moon was a south Korean spy.
The trial was set for April 3, and then delayed to April 7, so that Communist police and other officials could attend. It had been billed as the trial of 'Jesus who had come down on the clouds to save the people.28 Many Christians came to the court.29 Most of the followers came, except for Kim In-ju who was being confined to her home by her parents.
Sun-myung Moon, his head shaven, was brought in with other prisoners whose cases were being heard that day. Among them was his follower, Kim Chong-hwa. Moon's handcuffs were removed and he sat down on a bench opposite the judge. Then he stood up, stretched and sat down again.30 The other prisoners kept their heads hung low, their eyes on the ground. Some of the followers sitting in the back began to pray aloud.
He stood accused of spreading falsehoods. Deceiving innocent people for their money, and using those people to get more money from others. He was also charged with destroying the family and institutions, bringing disorder to society.
"How did you come down to earth?" the prosecutor asked him. "By cloud or by plane?" The Christians in the courthouse laughed. He didn't respond.
"What were you wearing when you came down from heaven? Jesus had a thorny crown. How about you?" He kept silent.
"What did you study at college?"
"I majored in electrical engineering."
"Please explain how electricity is produced." The question was designed to show that God, like electricity, is invisible but man-made. He explained the principles of electricity in detail. Eventually the judge interrupted. "OK, that will do." The defense lawyer, who had agreed to defend him at his followers' request, made an appeal for leniency. But given the nature of the system and the political importance of the trial in the context of the anti-religious drive, the gesture was useless. During the course of the trial, some people yelled out threats and calls for capital punishment. "He should be killed!" someone shouted from the gallery. "He should be beaten to death!" shouted another.
The trial lasted four hours and was over by lunch time. When the judge read the verdict, Moon requested he delete the part about spreading falsehoods and deceiving people The judge ignored the request and announced his decision. Moon was sentenced to five years. Kim Chong-hwa was given eighteen months The crowd of Communist and Christian onlookers seemed quietly pleased with the outcome.
The handcuffs were put back on. His followers were able to hand him a lunchbox. He held the box in the cuffed hand and, as he was taken away, he smiled, lifted his free hand and waved.