Cham Bumo Gyeong: Episode 180

Cham Bumo Gyeong
Book 7: True Parents’ Course of Suffering and Victory
Chapter 1: Suffering and Victory during the Japanese Occupation and in Communist North Korea
Section 3: Pyongyang and Hungnam, Paragraph 22-30

Godible is made possible by listeners like you!

22  The work at the fertilizer factory in Hungnam was hard labor. In society, people eat pork at least once a week because pork fat is said to dissolve when digested. Beef fat congeals, but pork fat melts, becoming accessible to the body's cells, performing a cleansing action on them. When we were working at the fertilizer factory, they knew we would die quickly if the fertilizer compounds stayed in our bodies. When they provided pork fat once a week, the prisoners would eat it ravenously.

How could we ever expect to eat meat at Hungnam? We thought, "Never mind meat, we would be satisfied even to eat our fill of rice." Yet breakfast was only three spoonfuls of food. And then we had to work for eight hours straight, doing hard labor. After we ate breakfast, we walked about four kilometers to the factory. In our undernourished state, we stumbled as we walked. Even under those conditions, we still had to do hard labor for eight hours.

23  Food is the savior for those who are dying of malnutrition and sickness. Thus, one small bowl of grain in prison was valuable enough for someone to trade for a house he would receive when he was released into the world. The prisoners were so starved that if someone died while eating, the other inmates opened his mouth, took out the grains of food and ate them themselves. There can be no insanity worse than that.

Also, when an inmate would bite down on a stone in his rice and spit it out, others would grab it and try to suck on even one grain that might have stuck to that stone. Truly, it was a living hell.

This is how the communist authorities eliminated so-called reactionary elements. Every year, more than a third of the prisoners—400 out of 1,000—died, and their bodies were carried out through the back gate of Hungnam Prison. Everyone in that prison died within three to four years. The authorities' strategy was to cause people to lose all the fat in their bodies and then work them to death. The plan was not merely merciless. There is a limit to mercilessness. There is a limit even to cruelty. But this was beyond any limits.

24  When I entered Hungnam Prison, there were nearly 1,000 prisoners there. In a year, approximately 40 percent died. That means that there was a death almost every day. I saw boards carrying dead bodies leaving through the back gate. Inmates in my cell died like that. It means that if there were 30 prisoners in a cell, more than 10 died in one year. And it was not like they died while being taken care of and eating well. Hunger came first before sickness. When one became sick, if he was unable to work he would get only half his daily food ration. In prison, to get a full portion of boiled grain was like being in heaven and to get only half a portion was like being in hell. No matter how much I try to describe this to you, you will not be able to understand it.

Because only those who went out and did a day's work received full rations, prisoners labored even when they were seriously ill. Even if they collapsed as soon as they left the prison gate, they still crawled to the work site. They had to find a way to at least pretend to work. They somehow endured to the end of the day, being desperate for their bowl of boiled grain. To get their food when they returned to the prison was their all-consuming purpose in life. So when the food was delivered, there was no "sick" person; everyone ate their portion of food. It was not uncommon that, after a man received his rice and bowl of soup, while eating desperately with all his strength, he would drop his spoon, close his eyes and die.

25  There are incidents that I cannot forget even now. When I was in Hungnam Prison, my mother came to visit me once a month. She would bring me a bag of powder made of mixed grains. I shared it with all the inmates in my cell. There were about 30 people, so each portion was not big. I put a spoonful of it on a piece of newspaper and gave it to each of them. In our situation, that powder was more precious than ribs of beef. Even one bean in the prison was more precious than ten cows outside. Even an inmate who kept up appearances and maintained his dignity would shoot out his arm when he saw a single bean dropping to the ground. More than 30 people shot out their arms to grab that one dropped bean. This situation is probably beyond your ability to imagine.

26  When I was in prison, the days I shared the mixed grain powder were feast days. I did not try to keep it for myself, but freely shared it with the others. I mixed the powder with water and kneaded it into cakes, which I wrapped in newspaper and brought to the work site. I waited until lunchtime for us to eat them. I cannot describe how desperate I was, suppressing my hunger until lunchtime, waiting to eat those cakes of grain. But I endured, so that I could share them with others. All morning long, while working and sweating, that was the only thing I had in my mind.

When it was lunchtime, I shared the cakes, and we ate. That factory was huge, so the work area was divided into the first and second work sites, and there were several large piles of fertilizer. We slaved there during work time, but during our 15-minute break when I shared those mixed-grain cakes, it was indeed the kingdom of heaven. Anyone who has not experienced this will not understand. You cannot buy that experience with a million dollars, because those moments are stained with blood and tears. That is the world where you must invest absolutely everything you have.

27  In prison we were always hungry to the point of dying. Cod liver oil smells fishy, but in the prison if you could mix your food with cod liver oil, you would not detect any fishy smell. Even if you drank a cup of cod liver oil, you would not smell anything fishy. Rather, you would find it a pleasant aroma. To that extent our bodies were lacking in fat. We were starving that much. That is why, no matter how difficult our work was, we longed to eat. That is why, not knowing how soon we would die, we pushed ourselves to do heavy labor simply for the food. If we did not work, our food was reduced by half, which was a death sentence for us.

In those circumstances, I had to reassure the other prisoners and educate them. I saved a lot of people there. "In your life at this factory," I would tell them, "you will have such and such symptoms. You will experience this and that. Unless you go over these challenges, you will surely die and be carried out the north gate. So listen to me." Many people were able to survive situations of certain death because they followed my advice. They became my disciples. Thus I educated people, even in prison.

28  In Hungnam Prison, we longed to eat so badly that we would go out to work even if we were ill. Afterward we returned and received our food. Often, someone would die while chewing on a mouthful of food, unable to finish his ration of three spoonfuls. Then a fight would break out among the inmates near the dead man, as they tried to claw the rice from his mouth and eat it themselves. To survive in that environment, for 15 days I shared half of my portion with others and ate only half. With that condition, I resolved that I would survive not just three years but five years and even ten years.

In nature, there are invisible vibrations. Because I loved nature, nature wanted to save me by giving me some of that vibrational energy. Imagine an apple orchard and smell that orchard's fragrance filling the air. Pretend that the fragrance is an apple and swallow that fragrance in a gulp. For me, this was like eating a real apple.

29  I had the experience of being truly grateful for one apple in my hand. It happened when I was in the communist prison. They gave us a piece of fruit twice a year, on May 1 and January 1. They distributed an apple to each of us. We were not allowed to make a choice, but were given one according to our order in line. No matter what kind of apple we were handed, whether worm-eaten or in any condition, we had to accept it.

When the apples were distributed, people generally began chewing them immediately and finished them in less than a minute. But I thought, "What a beautiful color this apple is! Let me eat the color first." Then, "Now that I have eaten its color, let me actually enjoy its taste." That's how I thought. So I opened my mouth to eat, but I did not feel like eating it. I just feasted my eyes on the apple and enjoyed its fragrance. I felt that I did not need to eat the apple. Even so, I was not supposed to carry it around with me, so I had to eat it. When I actually ate it, I prayed to God. In my prayer, I said, "I am the first person in the world who thinks this way when eating an apple." With the pride that I experienced in my prayer, I ate.

30  In prison, I did not complain that there were not any side dishes. While drinking only water and eating only plain grains, I would give thanks to Heavenly Father. Then I would say to myself, "Aren't you the one who represents the hope for tomorrow?" With that, I would eat.

In the prison, even if a side dish was served, we could not eat the grains and the side dish together. Since there were about 1,000 inmates, the guards could not distribute the soup and grains together. We had to finish our meal within one hour. Soup was served on one side and the grains were served on the other side, so we had to move about and line up for each dish. It took about 30 minutes to get our grains, and another 30 minutes to get our soup. So by the time we got both, mealtime was already finished. Within three minutes of finishing our meal we had to leave for the job site.

That was why we could not have the grains and soup together. We had to eat whatever came first, whether soup or grains. Whatever was given first, we had to eat it while standing in line. If we were given grain first, we ate that first; we just ate the plain grains. That is where I learned to eat food without side dishes.

Actually, even plain grains are very tasty. From my childhood I used to enjoy the crust of burnt rice, and I think God trained me well from my early days. That crusty burnt rice I remembered from the past had the same taste as the plain grains that I ate in prison. If the grains I was given had a little of that burnt taste, it was really tasty, to the extent that I forgot it was just plain grains. In this way, I always ate the grains and the soup separately. Even in such circumstances, I was resolved to offer my life for the Will and lived with determination that I would fulfill the dutiful ways of filial piety and loyalty to God.

Share this Godible. Start a conversation.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at
You can also share your testimony about Godible here!

Godible is made possible by listeners like you!

Asset 1@72x.png