Cham Bumo Gyeong: Episode 59

Cham Bumo Gyeong
Book 3. The Beginning of True Father's Public Course and the Founding of HSA-UWC
Chapter 2: True Father’s Journey to South Korea and His Course in Busan
Section 2. A New Beginning in Busan, Refugee life
Section 2. A New Beginning in Busan, Paragraph 08

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Section 2. A New Beginning in Busan

Refugee life

Upon arriving at Heukseok-dong, Seoul, True Father found his way to the home of Kwak No-pil, a fellow believer with whom he had been close when they both attended the New Jesus Church in Myeongsudae. Mr. Kwak, however, had already left for Busan. True Father unpacked his things and stayed there for a few days.

On December 30, 1950, after searching far and wide, he found the residence of his former landlord Mrs. Lee Gi-bong and her family and met with them. They talked long into the night. After he returned to Mr. Kwak’s house early on the morning of December 31, the police came and took him to the Heukseok-dong police substation for questioning. Earlier Kim Won-pil had been called to the military recruiting station to possibly be drafted into the defense corps; now True Father likewise had to go in for processing. He was given a physical checkup at the military field base set up in the Changgyeong Palace.

However, seeing True Father’s short hair and hearing his explanation that he had come from North Korea, the examiner gave him a class C exemption, because he was worried that if Father were a spy or a deserter from the North Korean army, it might cost him his job. The result was that True Father was exempt from military service. Kim Won-pil was also given the same exemption. Both then returned to Mr. Kwak’s house in Heukseok-dong, where they welcomed the New Year. Two days later, with his exemption papers, True Father went to the police substation and was issued a refugee ID.

On January 3 the entire population of Seoul was ordered to evacuate the city because the South Korean army would be starting its retreat the following day. True Father and his companions joined the refugee trail once again and headed for Busan.

1  When I traveled to South Korea from North Korea, I had a shaved head. In those days, when you joined the army they shaved your head. As I was young, when I came to South Korea I was supposed to enroll in the army. New recruits would undergo their physical examinations at the Changgyeong Palace. I had been released from prison not so long before then, but still I wasn’t too skinny. As they were taking my medical history, one of the officers asked me, “Where are you from?” In those days, people could not tell who was a soldier and who was a spy. Because of my short hair, he thought I might be a spy. He knew that if he sent a spy to the army, he could lose his job. So, after talking to me, he stamped my paper “third class,” which meant I was exempt from military service. I carried this paper with me, and it was accepted everywhere. That was the only identification I had.

2  I underwent hardships, but they were not just ordinary ones. As we fled south, the North Korean army was so close behind us that we could hear their shouts. Along the way we went through many dangerous situations due to the presence of the Soviet, Chinese and North Korean armies. Finally we came to the refugee area in Busan. Among the refugees, I believe we were the last ones to reach the area, arriving right after the battle at the Nakdong River. The South Korean forces had made their last stand. My path as a refugee was extremely difficult. There were many unforgettable stories.

These were not just steps in my personal life but steps to heal the wounds of God’s bitter sorrow by paying indemnity for history. You must understand that from the very beginning I had already made up my mind that I would not tread a comfortable path. I am not the kind of person who looks back to see if there might have been another, easier, way.

While living as a refugee I had no house; I slept outdoors on the grass or in the sandpits with the sky as my blanket, watching the stars and shedding tears of bitter sorrow for the Korean Peninsula.

3  It took 55 days for us to walk from Pyongyang to Busan. We begged for food along the way and, interestingly, God knew very well when we were hungry and tired. He knew it. Once I thought, “The day after tomorrow, we will get chicken.” Then it happened that a lady came and greeted me, saying, “Welcome.” I asked, “Who are you? I do not know you.” Then she said, “Last night, I had a dream of my great-great-grandfather, who said that a noble guest would come and told me to prepare chicken and rice cakes for him. So I did.” I asked her, “How did you know what he would look like?” She said, “I was told he would come as a shabby-looking passerby, and your face looks very similar to his.” Can you believe that such things happened? In that way, I was treated to rice cakes and chicken. These kinds of things happened quite often.

4  Those who followed me in North Korea were very enthusiastic people. They followed me day and night wherever I went, meeting with whomever I met. But after I was imprisoned, most of them disappeared. Even the most unforgettable among them drifted away. There was one person to whom I wrote a heartfelt letter and had someone deliver it to him. But then, when I went to visit him, he had already changed. He said, “If you are the Son of God, why did you end up in prison? Your teaching is all false.” He did not even care to read the letter. Instead he said, “Oh, a heretic is released from prison! Did you come here to spread your heresy?” So I took the letter back.

I was still carrying that letter with me when I passed through Yeongcheon, North Gyeongsang Province in South Korea. There, as I was crossing a bridge beside the railroad tracks to go to Busan, I took out that letter and read it one more time. Then I tore it up and threw it away. That was January 18, 1951. There were so many unforgettable incidents like that.

I already knew that even the most zealous among my followers could lose trust, betray me and leave. When I was in prison, that man’s spirit had come to me, greeted me, and in tears told me the story of his situation, saying, “I am leaving you now.” I had thought, “How can this be?” But, as I later discovered, it was at that time that he left me.

Father’s suffering life as a refugee

Arriving at Choryang Station in Busan on January 27, 1951, True Father cooked rice in a butter tin in the waiting room. He ate it with Kim Won-pil, and they spent their first night there. At the time Busan was teeming with refugees. The next morning, they managed to find Kwak No-pil, who had left his Busan address for them at his home in Heukseok-dong, Seoul before fleeing to Busan ahead of them. They spent three days with him.

Then on January 31, True Father unexpectedly met his friend Aum Duk-mun, with whom he had studied in Japan. Aum Duk-mun would become a prominent architect and design the Se-jong Center in Seoul. Mr. Aum insisted that True Father come and stay with him at his rented single room in Bumin-dong. Reluctantly True Father went there and stayed for a while with Mr. Aum’s family of four—himself, his wife, and their two children. After listening to True Father’s words for a week, Mr. Aum knelt down before him and confessed, “I can no longer regard you as simply my friend; you are my teacher, a great saint and philosopher.”

In early April, True Father and Kim Won-pil went to live in a laborers’ camp, which was nothing but a cramped barracks behind Choryang Station. They stayed there for more than ten days. Then they ran into Kim Won-deok, who had been one of True Father’s followers in Hungnam Prison. They stayed at his home in Goejeong-dong for about two weeks. For about four months, from May to August, they resided at a boarding house located at the entrance of Beomnaetgol, which before the liberation had been living quarters for employees of a Japanese-run electric company. They also stayed at Pier Three in Busan Harbor for about half a month, working as porters. Sometimes True Father had no choice but to sleep in a sunny spot in the woods or a bomb shelter. Occasionally he even begged for food and laid down to rest under the eaves of strangers’ homes. Such was the tearful life he led as a refugee.

5  When I arrived in Busan, it was flooded with people; they were packed in like sardines. There were no rooms available anywhere. In every trash can or empty box even, there would be two or three people squeezed in. All the refugees who had fled from all over Korea gathered in Busan. It was like a melting pot. There was no space even to put your foot down. Every village around Busan was overflowing with people. Even when trying to just stand still, I would be jostled this way and that. That was my daily life.

Having come to Busan, I had nothing to wear and nothing to eat. I had to make money, even a few pennies, so I worked at various odd jobs. Even in those circumstances I was still able to start a new church movement.

I had no home of my own and it was February, so it was very cold. I worked on night shifts and came back between 10:00 p.m. and midnight. It was very cold at night, so I would sleep curled up like a shrimp and cover myself with a coat down to my knees. I still remember that experience. I asked a member to keep that coat as a memento, but someone threw it away because it was old and tattered. If that coat had been preserved so that you could see it today, you would shed tears. It was such a memorable coat. Living like that, I walked step by step to lay the foundation we have today.

6  In those days, I often slept between two rocks on a hill during the warmest hours of the day, around 1:00 or 2:00 p.m., covering myself with a coat. Then, one rainy day around noontime, in front of the Chohung Bank, I met a friend of mine from my school days named Aum Duk-mun. When I saw him, I could not help but loudly shout out to him, so everyone turned around and stared at me. He said that he never imagined he would see me again. He thought I had died in North Korea. As soon as we met, he invited me into his home. I am still grateful for his act of kindness. There were too many refugees sitting and resting under the eaves of people’s houses at night. I can never forget how he took me to his house and treated me well.

7  After I came out of Hungnam Prison, it took me four long months to get to Busan. You cannot imagine how dirty my clothes became. My clothes were so dirty that I wore them inside out. In Busan there was nowhere to sleep. It was December and really cold, and I was wearing just one layer of clothing. When I came to Busan, I tried to avoid the cold by working as a laborer at the military base near the harbor at night. Working at night was easier than trying to sleep. During the day, I went into the hills around the city to find a place to sleep in the forest and spend some time alone.

8  When I was a refugee in Busan, I slept near the pier or on a hillside. It was interesting. In early February when it was cold, I would lay down on my military coat and wrap myself up in it. Because it was very cold, I worked during the night and slept during the day, from around 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. It was good to sleep on the sunny side of the hill, sitting still and sleeping like a pheasant. After waking up from sleep and straightening my clothes, I thought of Kim Sat-gat’s poem “The Wanderer.” When I had money and wanted to eat porridge, I would go to the harbor near the wharves. There were women there who sold red bean porridge that they cooked, covering their pots with a cloth to keep it warm as if they were loving and caring for their babies. I would buy a bowl of porridge and eat it. In those days, those porridge-sellers were my friends.

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